Caring for Puppies and Kittens

No two ways about it, puppies and kittens are adorable. It’s easy to be transfixed by the tiny paws, tiny noses, and big bellies galloping around your home in a riot of excitement. Puppy- and kittenhood, the first six months of life, can be one of the best times in a pet’s life, but it requires some diligence and special care from loving pet owners.

First off, if you’re in the market for a new pet, be sure you allow him enough time with his mother and his littermates to be healthy and well socialized. Young animals should be adopted when they’re ready to be socialized somewhere between 10 and 16 weeks for kittens and seven to 10 weeks for puppies. Once you get them home, and have picked up the litter, collar, leash, pet bed, and everything else you need, you can start to be a wonderful pet parent.

A Trip to the Doctor
The first thing you should do with your new kitten or puppy is make an appointment to see a veterinarian. Young animals, whose immune systems are not yet running at full force, are more vulnerable to parasites like fleas and worms as well as respiratory infections and other conditions. Your veterinarian will record your pet’s weight, perform a physical exam, and possibly do a fecal exam or a blood test, in order to rule out parasites or other potential problems. There are several conditions, such as orthopedic problems, that can be effectively treated if they are caught when animals are young, so seeing a veterinarian early is vital.

It’s also important that your little pet sees the veterinarian because he needs to be immunized. Puppies and kittens are initially immune to many diseases because of the antibodies they receive from their mothers’ milk. After weaning, however, they need to receive a series of vaccines in order to develop immunity on their own. Vaccinations for kittens generally include rabies and a “combination” vaccine for feline distemper and respiratory illness, and can also include feline leukemia, depending on where the pet lives and whether or not he goes outdoors. Puppies receive more vaccines, usually distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, rabies, and sometimes bordetella. If you’ve adopted your puppy or kitten from a humane society or a reputable breeder, he has probably already had his initial vaccinations. He needs to continue to be vaccinated every three to four weeks, however, until he is five or six months old. After this point, you and your veterinarian can discuss how often he will need booster shots.

Kitten- and Puppy-Proofing Your Home
One of the most important things you can do for your kitten or puppy is give him a safe environment to live, play, and explore in. You can think of young cats and dogs much like you think of toddlers: they’re not entirely stable on their feet, they’ll put almost anything in their mouths, and they’re curious enough to get into just about everything. With that in mind, you can take a few of these precautions to keep your home safe for your little pet.

Keep toxic and dangerous materials, such as cleaning solutions, antifreeze, and medications, in a locked cabinet or in a room your pet doesn’t have access to. Don’t trust an unlocked cabinet near the ground inquisitive kittens and pups have been known to paw doors open.
Patrol your house with an eye out for small holes or gaps in floorboards, walls, baseboards, heating vents, and anywhere else a small animal could squeeze into and get stuck. While you’re at it, look over your furniture for potential hazards. Kittens in particular can squeeze into holes underneath box spring mattresses and upholstered chairs, and they can be trapped in the mechanism underneath a reclining chair.
Try to remove everything in sight that is small enough to be chewed or swallowed, including paper clips, coins, rubber bands, staples, pen caps, thread, dental floss, earrings, needles, and thumbtacks. Puppies from the larger breeds might even be able to swallow something as large as a pen, a rock, or a piece of silverware. Objects like these can choke animals if swallowed, or they could do a lot of damage to the digestive system.
Until your little one becomes very stable on his feet, you may want to block off stairs and ledges with a baby gate or a wide piece of plywood. Remember, puppies and kittens can jump surprisingly high, so you’ll want to use a tall gate.
Both dogs and cats tend to think that the toilet is their own private water fountain. Small pets can fall in and injure or drown themselves when they try to drink, and automatic toilet bowl cleaners can be harmful or even fatal if drunk in large amounts or by a young animal. Keeping the toilet lid shut should ward off problems.
Watch out for heavy or fragile objects placed on unstable bases. A carousing puppy could accidentally knock over a lamp on an end table, for example. An iron sitting on an ironing board could also be easily toppled.
Young animals have the instinct to chew, so you may want to cover electric cords with rugs or plastic cord guards, which are available at hardware stores.
Some of the prettiest plants inside your house or in your yard may be poisonous to your pet. Keep azalea, daffodil, rhododendron, oleander, mistletoe, hydrangea, morning glory, diffenbachia, sago palm, Easter lily, and yewplants out of your kitten or pup’s reach, as they can all be harmful or even fatal to animals.
Young animals need a safe haven to stay in when they can’t be supervised. You can confine them to a crate or take one room of the house and make it into your pet’s home for when you’re gone. It should include a soft, warm place to sleep and plenty of toys, and it should be regularly examined for the hazards listed above.
If it seems like your little guy is ravenous on a regular basis, it’s because he is. Young animals develop at an amazing rate, and they need a lot of calories and fat, protein, and vitamins to fuel their growth. Just after weaning (at somewhere between four and six weeks old), puppies and kittens need about twice the energy of an adult dog of the same size. This need gradually decreases until they reach adulthood.

Because of these high energy needs, you should feed your pet a high quality puppy or kitten food. Stay away from foods labeled “maintenance” or “adults only” they don’t contain a high enough percentage of fat and protein to meet a juvenile’s needs. You can begin by setting out the amount of food recommended by the manufacturer. Keep an eye on your young animal’s weight. If he seems to be getting thin, you can feed him more. Most cats and dogs won’t become overweight during their first six months they’re growing too fast but it’s possible, so you can watch out for weight gain. Starting at about six months, or a little later for cats, you can start mixing the puppy or kitten food with an adult food.

With a young animal, you have a great opportunity to make grooming into a pleasant experience for both of you. Cats and dogs don’t automatically hate nail clipping, ear cleaning, and baths they’re just nervous and unused to being handled that way. It’s only after a negative experience, like being held down or punished for struggling, that they begin to associate grooming with discomfort. You can avoid this negative association by starting when your pet is young and allowing him to adjust gradually to the grooming process. You can make grooming fun, with lots of petting, praise, and treats. Eventually, the time you spend brushing, washing, and handling your pet may become enjoyable to both of you, allowing you to bond in a relaxed atmosphere.

Handling You can start getting your kitten or puppy used to being touched as soon as you bring him home. When he’s calm and relaxed, try looking in his ears while you pet him. If he becomes nervous or uncomfortable, stop until he calms down. You can also gently play with his paws, first by gently touching them, then by picking them up and massaging the pads. Get him used to having his stomach touched (which is particularly important for cats), his armpits and groin examined, and his mouth opened and his teeth touched. This will not only help your pet see this kind of touching as soothing and nonthreatening, but it will also let you check for parasites, unusual lumps under the skin, and other health problems. You should start with short sessions about two or three minutes as puppies and kittens have short attention spans and will quickly become antsy. You can build to longer sessions as your pet gets older.
Brushing This is one of the easiest parts of grooming for a young pet to get used to. He may initially be a bit frightened of the brush, so you can start by simply showing him the brush, letting him sniff it, and giving him praise and a treat. Next, you can run the flat side of the brush along his body, letting him adjust to the rhythm and motion of brushing. When you switch to the bristled side of the brush, brush often enough that you don’t have to pull through mats or tangles, so the experience will be pain free.
Ear cleaning Most animals aren’t wild about having their ears cleaned, so try to be patient and give your little pet a lot of encouragement. You can start by just touching the outer rim of the ear, using a cotton ball and ear cleaning solution from your veterinarian
Trimming toenails Puppies and kittens can grow sharp little claws very quickly, and they may need to be trimmed as often as once a week for the first few months of life. This can be a challenge with young cats and dogs, because their nails are small and it’s difficult to see the quick, which supplies blood to the nail. Start by only snipping off the very tip of the nail. As you and your pet become more comfortable, you can start to snip the nail away in thin cross-sections, checking each layer until you see a dark area in the center, which signals the beginning of the quick.
For more information on grooming your pet, see Grooming Your Pet, Trimming Pet Toenails, and Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth.

Once you bring your little one through his first months safely, you can be proud of your accomplishment as a pet parent. Though it can take a lot of work, raising a well-fed, well-groomed, and happy puppy or kitten is a big step toward having a well-fed, well-groomed, and healthy adult pet.

Your Pet and Human Drugs

Thinking about giving your pet an aspirin to ease its pain? Think again! Human painkillers including ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen can be dangerous and even deadly to animals. Though acetaminophen can ease a human tension headache, one tablet of 500 mg extra strength acetaminophen can kill a 7-pound cat. Human medications are not designed for the animal body, and can have deadly effects when given to pets

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

What is feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)?

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a disease caused by a coronavirus infection. Many different strains of coronavirus are capable of infecting cats, but most do not produce serious disease. FIP-producing strains are distinguished by their ability to invade and grow in certain white blood cells. The infected cells transport the virus throughout the cat’s body. An intense inflammatory reaction occurs in the tissues where these virus-infected cells locate. It is this interaction between the body’s own immune system and the virus that is responsible for the disease.

Infected cats shed coronavirus in their saliva and feces. Most cats become infected by inhaling or ingesting the virus, either by direct contact with an infected cat, or by contact with virus-contaminated surfaces like clothing, bedding, feeding bowls, or toys.

Although the virus can survive for a number of weeks in the environment, it is rapidly inactivated by most household detergents and disinfectants. An inexpensive and effective disinfectant is one part of household bleach in thirty-two parts of water (4 ounces of bleach per gallon of water).


Is FIP related to feline leukemia?

FIP and feline leukemia are caused by different viruses. Some cats that have FIP may also be infected by the feline leukemia virus, but the diseases are two separate entities.


What are the signs of FIP?

Initial exposure to the FIP virus usually results in no obvious clinical disease, although some cats may experience a mild upper respiratory disease that is characterized by sneezing, watery eyes, and watery nasal discharge. Some cats may experience a mild intestinal disease. Most cats that undergo the primary infection completely recover, although some of them may become virus carriers. Only a small percentage of exposed cats develop the lethal disease: weeks, months, or perhaps years after primary infection.

The onset of clinical signs of lethal FIP may be sudden (especially in kittens), or the signs may gradually increase in severity over a period of weeks. Many cats have nonspecific signs such as intermittent inappetence, depression, rough hair coat, weight loss, and fever.

The major forms of lethal FIP are effusive (wet) FIP, noneffusive (dry) FIP, and combinations of both. The most characteristic sign of effusive FIP is the accumulation of fluid within the abdomen and/or chest. When fluid accumulation becomes excessive, it may become difficult for the cat to breathe normally.

The onset of noneffusive FIP is usually slower. Fluid accumulation is minimal, although weight loss, depression, anemia, and fever are almost always present. Signs of kidney failure (increased water consumption and urination), liver failure (jaundice), pancreatic disease (vomiting, diarrhea, diabetes), neurologic disease (loss of balance, behavioral changes, paralysis, seizures), enteritis (vomiting, diarrhea), or eye disease (inflammation, blindness) may be seen in various combinations. FIP is often a difficult disease to diagnose because each cat can display different signs that are similar to those of many other diseases.


What are the chances my cat will get FIP in its lifetime?

Young cats (less than two years of age), older cats (over ten years old), cats in poor physical condition, and cats undergoing concurrent infections or stress are more susceptible to FIP. It is a relatively uncommon disease in the general cat population, probably affecting fewer than one percent of the cats brought to a veterinarian’s office for treatment. In multiple-cat populations such as some shelters and catteries the disease rate can be much higher, affecting up to 10 to 20 percent of the susceptible population over a period of several months.


Are there any laboratory tests that can detect the FIP virus?

The KELA, ELISA, IFA, and virus-neutralization tests detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies in a cat. A positive test result only means the cat has had a prior exposure to a coronavirus — not necessarily one that causes FIP — and has developed antibodies against that virus. If the test is negative, it means the cat has not been exposed to a coronavirus.

The number, or titer, that is reported is the highest serum dilution that still produced a positive reaction. Low titers indicate a small amount of coronavirus antibodies in the serum, while high titers indicate greater amounts of antibodies. A healthy cat with a high titer is not necessarily more likely to develop FIP or be a carrier of an FIP-causing coronavirus than a cat with a low titer. It also is not necessarily protected against future FIP virus infection.

Recently, two new tests have been developed that can detect parts of the virus itself. The immunoperoxidase test can diagnose FIP more accurately than traditional histopathologic examination because it detects virus-infected cells in the tissue. A biopsy of affected tissue is necessary for evaluation. Another antigen test utilizes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect viral genetic material in tissue or body fluid. Although this test shows promise, PCR is presently only capable of detecting coronaviruses in general, not necessarily those that cause FIP.


How is a positive diagnosis made?

A presumptive diagnosis of FIP can usually be made on the basis of clinical signs, routine laboratory tests, and evaluation of abdominal or chest fluid. Some cases, however, present a diagnostic challenge, since the signs of illness are not distinct for FIP. In all cases, a tissue biopsy is the only way to absolutely confirm a diagnosis of FIP.


Is there a cure for FIP?

Currently, FIP is considered to be a routinely fatal disease once a positive diagnosis has been made. Unfortunately, no cure yet exists. The basic aim of therapy is to provide supportive care and to alleviate the self- destroying inflammatory response of the disease. Some treatments may induce short-term remissions in a small percentage of patients. A combination of corticosteroids, cytotoxic drugs, and antibiotics with maintenance of nutrient and fluid intake may be helpful in some cases. In the future, combining immune-modulating drugs with effective antiviral medications may prove to be beneficial for treatment of FIP.
















Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

What is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus? 
Virologists classify feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) as a lentivirus (or “slow virus”). FIV is in the same retrovirus family as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), but the viruses differ in many ways including their shape. FIV is elongated, while FeLV is more circular. The two viruses are also quite different genetically, and the proteins that compose them are dissimilar in size and composition. The specific ways in which they cause disease differ, as well.


How common is the infection? 
FIV-infected cats are found worldwide, but the prevalence of infection varies greatly. In the United States, approximately 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV. Rates rise significantly-15 percent or more-in cats that are sick or at high risk of infection. Because biting is the most efficient means of viral transmission, free-roaming, aggressive male cats are the most frequently infected, while cats housed exclusively indoors are much less likely to be infected.


How is FIV spread? 
The primary mode of transmission is through bite wounds. Casual, non-aggressive contact does not appear to be an efficient route of spreading FIV; as a result, cats in households with stable social structures where housemates do not fight are at little risk for acquiring FIV infections. On rare occasions infection is transmitted from an infected mother cat to her kittens, usually during passage through the birth canal or when the newborn kittens ingest infected milk. Sexual contact is not a major means of spreading FIV.


What does FIV do to a cat? 
Infected cats may appear normal for years. However, infection eventually leads to a state of immune deficiency that hinders the cat’s ability to protect itself against other infections. The same bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi that may be found in the everyday environment–where they usually do not affect healthy animals–can cause severe illness in those with weakened immune systems. These secondary infections are responsible for many of the diseases associated with FIV.


What are the signs of disease caused by FIV?

Early in the course of infection, the virus is carried to nearby lymph nodes, where it reproduces in white blood cells known as T-lymphocytes. The virus then spreads to other lymph nodes throughout the body, resulting in a generalized but usually temporary enlargement of the lymph nodes, often accompanied by fever. This stage of infection may pass unnoticed unless the lymph nodes are greatly enlarged.

An infected cat’s health may deteriorate progressively or be characterized by recurrent illness interspersed with periods of relative health. Sometimes not appearing for years after infection, signs of immunodeficiency can appear anywhere throughout the body.

  • Poor coat condition and persistent fever with a loss of appetite are commonly seen.
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and mouth (stomatitis) and chronic or recurrent infections of the skin, urinary bladder, and upper respiratory tract are often present.
  • Persistent diarrhea can also be a problem, as can a variety of eye conditions.
  • Slow but progressive weight loss is common, followed by severe wasting late in the disease process.
  • Various kinds of cancer and blood diseases are much more common in cats infected with FIV, too.
  • In unspayed female cats, abortion of kittens or other reproductive failures have been noted.
  • Some infected cats experience seizures, behavior changes, and other neurological disorders.

How is infection diagnosed? 
Antibody tests detect the presence of antibody in the blood of infected cats.

Positive results

  • Because few, if any, cats ever eliminate infection, the presence of antibody indicates that a cat is infected with FIV. This test can be performed by most veterinary diagnostic laboratories and also is available in kit form for use in veterinary clinics. Since false-positive results may occur, veterinarians recommend that positive results be confirmed using a test with a different format.
  • Infected mother cats transfer FIV antibodies to nursing kittens, so kittens born to infected mothers may receive positive test results for several months after birth. However, few of these kittens actually are or will become infected. To clarify their infection status, kittens younger than six months of age receiving positive results should be retested at 60-day intervals until they are at least six months old.

Negative results

  • A negative test result indicates that antibodies directed against FIV have not been detected, and, in most cases, this implies that the cat is not infected. Nevertheless, it takes eight to 12 weeks after infection (and sometimes even longer) before detectable levels of antibody appear, so if the test is performed during this interval, inaccurate results might be obtained. Therefore, antibody-negative cats with either an unknown or a known exposure to FIV-infected cats-such as through the bite of an unknown cat-should be retested a minimum of 60 days after their most recent exposure in order to allow adequate time for development of antibodies.
  • On very rare occasions, cats in the later stages of FIV infection may test negative because their immune systems are so compromised that they no longer produce detectable levels of antibody.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are designed to detect short segments of a virus’s genetic material. While antibody-based tests are ideal screening tests for infection, in certain situations (such as confirming infection in antibody-positive kittens or determining infection of cats vaccinated with antibody-producing FIV vaccines), PCR-based tests, in theory, would be superior. Although PCR testing methods offer promise and are being actively explored, at this time unacceptable numbers of false-positive and false-negative results prevent them from routinely being recommended.


How can I keep my cat from becoming infected? 
The only sure way to protect cats is to prevent their exposure to the virus. Cat bites are the major way infection is transmitted, so keeping cats indoors-and away from potentially infected cats that might bite them-markedly reduces their likelihood of contracting FIV infection. For the safety of the resident cats, only infection-free cats should be adopted into a household with uninfected cats.

Vaccines to help protect against FIV infection are now available. However, not all vaccinated cats will be protected by the vaccine, so preventing exposure will remain important, even for vaccinated pets. In addition, vaccination may have an impact on future FIV test results. It is important that you discuss the advantages and disadvantages of vaccination with your veterinarian to help you decide whether FIV vaccines should be administered to your cat.


I just discovered that one of my cats has FIV, yet I have other cats as well. What do I do now? 
Unfortunately, many FIV-infected cats are not diagnosed until after they have lived for years with other cats. In such cases, all the other cats in the household should be tested, as well. Ideally, all infected cats should be separated from the noninfected ones to eliminate the potential for FIV transmission. If this is not possible-and if fighting or rough play is not taking place-the risk to the non-infected cats appears to be low.


How should FIV-infected cats be managed?

  • FIV-infected cats should be confined indoors to prevent spread of FIV infection to other cats in the neighborhood and to reduce their exposure to infectious agents carried by other animals.
  • FIV-infected cats should be spayed or neutered.
  • They should be fed nutritionally complete and balanced diets.
  • Uncooked food, such as raw meat and eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products should not be fed to FIV-infected cats because the risk of food-borne bacterial and parasitic infections is much higher in immunosuppressed cats.
  • Wellness visits for FIV-infected cats should be scheduled with your veterinarian at least every six months. Although a detailed physical examination of all body systems will be performed, your veterinarian will pay special attention to the health of the gums, eyes, skin, and lymph nodes. Your cat’s weight will be measured accurately and recorded, because weight loss is often the first sign of deterioration. A complete blood count, serum biochemical analysis, and a urine analysis should be performed annually.
  • Vigilance and close monitoring of the health and behavior of FIV-infected cats is even more important than it is for uninfected cats. Alert your veterinarian to any changes in your cat’s health as soon as possible.
  • There is no evidence from controlled scientific studies to show that immunomodulator, alternative, or antiviral medications have any positive benefits on the health or longevity of healthy FIV-infected cats. However, some antiviral therapies have been shown to benefit some FIV-infected cats with seizures or stomatitis.

How long can I expect my FIV-infected cat to live? 
It is impossible to accurately predict the life expectancy of a cat infected with FIV. With appropriate care and under ideal conditions, many infected cats will remain in apparent good health for many months or years. If your cat has already had one or more severe illnesses as a result of FIV infection, or if persistent fever and weight loss are present, a much shorter survival time can be expected.


My FIV-infected cat died recently after a long illness. How should I clean my home before bringing in a new cat?
Feline immunodeficiency virus will not survive outside the cat for more than a few hours in most environments. However, FIV-infected cats are frequently infected with other infectious agents that may pose some threat to a newcomer. Thoroughly clean and disinfect or replace food and water dishes, bedding, litter pans, and toys. A dilute solution of household bleach (four ounces of bleach in 1 gallon of water) makes an excellent disinfectant. Vacuum carpets and mop floors with an appropriate cleanser. Any new cats or kittens should be properly vaccinated against other infectious agents before entering the household.


Can I become infected with FIV? 
Although FIV is a lentivirus similar to HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) and causes a disease in cats similar to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) in humans, it is a highly species-specific virus that infects only felines.

A number of studies have failed to show any evidence that FIV can infect or cause disease in people.


Why should I have my cat tested?

Early detection will help you maintain the health of your own cat and also allow you to prevent spreading infection to other cats.


Under what circumstances should FIV testing be performed?

  • If your cat has never been tested.
  • If your cat is sick, even if it tested free of infection in the past but subsequent exposure can’t be ruled out.
  • When cats are newly adopted, whether or not they will be entering a household with other cats.
  • If your cat has recently been exposed to an infected cat.
  • If your cat is exposed to cats that may be infected (for example, if your cat goes outdoors unsupervised or lives with other cats that might be infected). Your veterinarian may suggest testing periodically (yearly) as long as your cat is exposed to potentially infected cats.
  • If you’re considering vaccinating with an FIV vaccine.





Disaster Preparepdness


With recent storms and power outages, disaster preparedness has made front page news.  Many of us have the intention of making plans for our homes and loved ones, but we didn’t.  There is no time like the present to set up your plan and gather supplies.

* Proper Identification:  in the event of a natural disaster, or even a house fire, a collar showing clear, up-to-date ID is crucial.  It is strongly encouraged that all pets have a microchip implanted as means of permanent identification, ensuring that the information corresponding to the microchip is updated as well.  Keep a copy of your pet’s current medical record/vaccine history in a safe place, along with a current photo.

*Supplies: a well stocked bin of pet supplies is essential!  Stock enough food and drinking water for no less than 3 days, but it doesn’t hurt to have more on hand.  Also include a copy of your pet’s medical records/vaccination history (in a water safe bag), along with a photo, leash and collar, litter, medication, litter trays, etc.

*Carriers and Crates:  a carrier or crate can temporarily house pets at vet clinics or even hotels that would not normally take pets.  Cat carriers should be large enough to hold a cat and their littler box.

Get more information on disaster preparedness at

[courtesy: Fetch]

Bill-Jac food recall

August 24, 2012 – Bil-Jac Foods of Medinia Ohio has announced a voluntary dog food recall of a limited number of one of its dry products due to possible contamination with mold.

According to a company spokesperson, the recall includes only the 6 pound package of its Bil-Jac Adult Select Formula dry dog food with a lot code of 1792-02 and a Best By date of 27 December 2013.

The products in question are currently being tested for the presence of mold toxins and the company has assured us they will share more information as it becomes available.1

Be sure to save a link to this page as additional information will be posted here as soon as it is published.

What You Can Do

You can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to

Famous Pets

Ever hear of Benji, Lassie and, of course, the venerable Rin Tin Tin? Of course you have. Everyone has. When you think of famous pets, these three inevitably come to mind. Dogs seem to get most of the glory, with the lion’s share going to just a few. Although it seems we’re living in a canine-centric world, there are many unsung heroes and celebrities in other species.

Take the pig from the hit movie “Babe.” Or the parrot from the flick “Paulie” – which was basically Babe with wings. These pets (and yes, a pig does qualify as a pet, albeit an unusual one) showed as much


cinematic spunk as any canine. So before you think the world has simply gone to the dogs, consider the following famous pets.

Famous Cats


The feline icon of 9Lives, Morris rejected his first dish 33 years ago. Morris’ famously finicky nature has been passed down through three tabbies to the present Morris IV, who debuted in 2000.

The original Morris was rescued from an animal shelter in Illinois. His rugged good looks – for a cat – soon made cat


lovers swoon. He was dubbed (no kidding here) “the Clark Gable of cats.” He lived to the age of 19.

Morris II was found in a New England animal shelter. He made the transition from commercials to movies, appearing in the Burt Reynolds movie “Shamus.” He passed away at age 15.

The third and fourth Morris’ followed in the tradition of the first two: they were rescued from shelters combed to find cats that share the physical traits of the first two. They have appeared with many celebrities, including legends Bob Hope and Lily Tomlin.

In 1988 and in 1992, he campaigned for president, and polls showed that Morris had greater name recognition than the candidates – at least among the non-voting members of the public. Alas, the Constitution does not recognize the candidacy of pets.


Although not famous in the United States, Margate captured the hearts of Britons for the way she wooed Winston Churchill, one of the great leaders of the 20th century. In 1953, Margate, then just a stray black kitten, impudently marched on the doorstep of No. 10 Downing St. (where the Prime Minister lives and works).

Churchill had just finished writing an important speech on the need for Western solidarity in the face of Communism. The speech was to be given in the town of Margate. He took the kitten’s presence as a good luck sign and a show of support. Churchill adopted the kitten immediately and named her Margate.

The speech was a success, and 10 days later Margate was promoted to a place of honor in Churchill’s bedroom. Soon after, she managed a coup d’etat and slept with Churchill thereafter.


Belonging to the Clintons, Socks was the first cat to grace the White House since the Carter administration (First Daughter Amy Carter owned a cat named Misty Malarky Ying Yang). She moved into the White House in 1993 and, like the Bush dog Millie, soon had a best seller on her life in the Executive Mansion.

But in 1997, her star was eclipsed by Buddy, a Labrador retriever. When President Clinton was mired in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, it was Buddy who was seen trodding faithfully next to him. (Clinton obviously took Harry Truman’s advice to heart: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”)

When the Clintons left the White House, Socks did not join them. Instead, she found a home with the president’s secretary, Betty Curry.

Famous Horses


For those too young to know, Trigger was the horse ridden by Roy Rogers, the “King of Cowboys.” Together, Trigger and Rogers performed stunts at rodeos and were featured in numerous movies and television segments.

Trigger had his own fan following, but few people know his original name: Golden Cloud. That wasn’t western enough, so the name was changed to suit Hollywood’s vision of a Western horse. Trigger and Roy Rogers performed together for 27 years. The horse died in 1965 at the age of 33.

Silver, of course, was the Lone Ranger’s faithful steed. Silver was an Arabian horse that carried Clayton Moore across more than 60 movies. But like Trigger, Silver’s name was changed. His original name was Dusty. It didn’t quite fit with the Lone Ranger’s calling card – leaving behind a silver bullet.

In 1957, Silver won an award for excellence from the television and motion picture industry. Beyond that, not much is known about the actual horse.

Mr. Ed

You don’t need to be an adventure-seeking equine to be famous. The horse who portrayed the talking equine Mr. Ed was a show horse owned by the president of the California Palomino Society.

Mr. Ed was encouraged to speak using peanut butter, which made the animal move his mouth more (the speech, of course, was dubbed in). The popular show lasted from 1961 to 1965. Mr. Ed retired after the show, but his retirement was marred by a number of ailments, including arthritis and a broken leg.

Legend has it that Mr. Ed died in 1979 in Oklahoma, but that horse was actually one used to pose for publicity photos. Mr. Ed was 19 in 1968, so it is likely he was put to sleep around 1970, without fanfare.

Other Famous Dogs

There have been many celebrity dogs with resumes and film credits that rival any veteran actor. But fame can be fleeting, especially if you’re a dog. Here are a few dogs whose names once rolled off the lips as easily as Rin Tin Tin. All of the following are buried at the prestigious Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, in New York (established in 1894, Hartsdale was the first pet cemetery in the United States):


Storm was a rugged German shepherd who appeared in many hit television shows. He played in many action shows, including “Adam 12,” “Bonanza,” Ironsides” and “Police Story.”


This Yorkshire terrier was an inveterate globe-trotter, and was often seen accompanied by beautiful and glamorous models. Sir has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.


Boots, a veteran dog actor of the 1940s, helped raise more than $9 million in bonds to support the American war effort during World War II. He appeared before troops at more than a 150 locations and performed before President Franklin Roosevelt. He died in the early 1950s.

Choosing a Dog: The Right Age, Breed and Temperament for Your Family

A dog’s breed and temperament, combined with your lifestyle and personality, all play an important role in determining what kind of dog is the best fit for you. For instance, a slight or shy person could find a large-breed dog—especially one that is boisterous or hyperactive—difficult to control. On the other hand, a timid, little dog may not be a suitable match for an adventuresome, outgoing, or loud person.

So with all the choices available, how do you go about selecting the right dog for you?

Deciding Between a Puppy and a Full-Grown Dog
If you are considering adopting a dog, first determine whether you want a puppy or an adult dog. Adopting a puppy has certain advantages—you will be able to choose a dog with the best temperament for you and ensure he gets a proper education before behavioral problems or bad habits develop. But puppies bring added responsibilities, too. During the first few months, a puppy requires more of your time than an older dog.

  • Puppies should not be left alone for extended periods of time.
  • They need to be fed several times a day, constantly monitored, and handled with care.
  • Owners must fill the void created when they take a puppy away from his mother and littermates.
  • Attention is required to properly house-train a puppy.
  • Other training is required with goals suitable for the puppy’s age. (Training goals will change as the puppy matures.)

If you do not have the time required for a puppy, consider adopting a full-grown dog that has already gone through the puppy stage.

  • Usually an older dog will be housebroken and less likely to chew anything and everything within reach.
  • More advanced training can begin immediately.
  • As a newcomer to your family, however, even older dogs require attention and understanding while they become oriented to a new environment.

Before adopting an older dog, learn as much as you can about his background, such as the details of his diet so you can be sure any change in diet will not be abrupt. If adopting a dog from another home, ask for a favorite item, such as a toy, a blanket, or a pillow that the dog can take with him. This will help in the transition.

Understanding the Importance of Temperament
Temperament has nothing to do with a dog’s size, breed or upbringing—temperament is something innate in a dog. A dog’s temperament has a lot to do with how easily he can be trained and, while good training can improve certain traits in a dog, training cannot change a dog’s temperament.

There are a variety of temperaments in dogs, and some dogs can have a combination of temperament traits, but generally speaking, dogs have four basic temperament types:

  1. Nervous – This bottom-of-the-pack dog requires more effort and perseverance on your part to train. An older, nervous dog can act in a variety of ways around strangers. He might bark but then back off, or circle while barking and growling. Another nervous type might settle down when the stranger is seated but bark and possibly try to attack when the visitor gets up to leave. A fear of strangers makes a nervous dog a challenge to train.
  2. Timid – Also a bottom-of-the-pack dog, a timid dog will hold his ears back, squirm, put his tail between his legs, or roll onto his back. You can easily train this type of dog once he recognizes you as his leader.
  3. Dominant – This top-of-the-pack dog requires owners to demonstrate their own leadership through a consistent and committed effort to train the dog, no matter how long it takes. When around strangers, this dog stands his ground and, under some circumstances, attacks. He will not relinquish his leadership position easily and, if you move too quickly with training, he could bite. With professional help and a lot of determination, however, even the most dominant dogs can be trained.
  4. Middle of the Pack – This dog is easy to train because he wants to please his owners out of respect for them as the leaders of the pack. Usually friendly toward strangers and not aggressive toward other dogs, this type of dog is delightful to own.

Choosing the Best Breed for Your Personality
In addition to recognizing an individual dog’s temperament, you would do well to investigate the breed that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Listed here are some of the most popular breeds and, based on our experience with hundreds of thousands of dogs worldwide, how their personalities and characteristics might match the requirements of different types of owners. While some breeds do have tendencies toward a certain temperament, keep in mind that this is not absolute. Use the information as a guide, but we recommend you make your final decision based on background information and observation.

Sociable Dogs with Soft, Even Temperaments          
These breeds are typically less demanding and more docile, making them perfect for elderly people and families with children. They are loving and respond well to lots of attention, and prefer to not be left alone.

American Cocker Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Golden Retriever
Lhasa Apso

Dogs that Require More Discipline
Often exuberant, many of these breeds require more discipline and exercise—but are great for people with lots of energy. Their loyal, loving natures still make them wonderful family pets.

Afghan Hound
Bull Terrier
English Cocker Spaniel
Doberman Pinscher
German Shepherd
Great Dane
Miniature Schnauzer
West Highland White Terrier

One-Person Dogs
Protective of their homes and owners, these breeds are perfect for people who live alone. Not in all cases, but these breeds tend to be less suitable for families.

Chow Chow
Shih Tzu

Mixed Breeds
Generally hardier and less prone to hereditary faults, mixed breeds can be pets that are just as good—and sometimes better—than purebreds. Still, some are better than others. As a basic guideline, a pup is likely to inherit his size from his mother but be slightly smaller than his largest parent.

Designer Dogs
Designer breeds, crosses between two purebred dogs, were developed to create a mix of the best characteristics of each breed. For instance, the Goldendoodle combines the family-friendly traits of the Golden Retriever with the non-shedding, hypoallergenic traits of the Poodle. Some of the more popular hybrids are the:

Puggle (Pug/Beagle)
Schnoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle)
Labradoodle (Labrador/Poodle)
Chorkie (Chihuahua/Yorkshire Terrier)

Just like people, dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. A dog’s breed and temperament, combined with your lifestyle and personality, all play an important role in determining what kind of dog is best for you. Do a bit of research first, then visit your local shelter. There is a perfect dog for everyone.

Famous Cats

How many of these famous cats do you recognize?



Felix the Cat

This black-and-white scamp graced silent films and news strips starting in 1919.

The Cheshire Cat

When Lewis Carroll debuted “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in 1865, he gave us one of history’s most curious cats. The rotund riddler is best known for his grin, which inspired a common saying.

Tom the Cat

Hanna-Barbera’s Tom has been chasing his foil, Jerry Mouse, since 1940.

The Cat in the Hat

Dr. Seuss debuted his mischief-making cat in a 1957 learn-to-read book. Since then, the larger-than-life cat has become a cultural icon.

Sylvester the Cat

Looney Tunes’ scheming “puddy tat” started chasing his adorable feathered prey in 1945.

Socks the Cat

Socks had a rags-to-riches story; the stray made it all the way to the White House

Morris the Cat

This spoiled tabby was a finicky ’70s spokes-cat.

Hello Kitty

Since her birth in 1974  this kawaii  Japanese cat has graced stickers, notebooks and over-the-top goods for jet-setters, fashionistas  and even expectant moms.





Garfield the Cat

On June 19, this famous comic strip grump celebrates his 33rd birthday. When not mailing pests overseas or tormenting his owner’s dopey dog, Garfield can be found wisecracking through daily comic strips.


Hip Dysplasia

Has Rover been limping around your house lately? Is he having trouble making it up the stairs? Does he seem sluggish and reluctant to stand up? If so, your pet may be suffering from hip dysplasia, which affects the connection between the ball and socket of the hip joint.

Even if your pet is free of these symptoms, he may still develop the disease. This issue of Pet Planet will help you identify signs of hip dysplasia and teach you how to care for your ailing friend.

What is hip dysplasia?

In basic terms, hip dysplasia means “badly formed hip.” In unaffected animals, the ball at the end of the leg bone fits smoothly into a pocket in the hip, just as pieces of a puzzle fit together. In affected dogs, the “pieces” don’t come together as well. The ball may roll around loosely in the socket, making for a rather uncomfortable fit. This looseness is what may cause your pet to limp or seem pained during certain activities.

Who gets it?

The joint disease is common in large dogs; about 50 percent of some larger breeds are affected. Less commonly, the disease also can occur in medium-sized breeds and even in small breeds. It primarily strikes purebreds, but it can develop in mixed breeds, particularly when both parents are prone to the disease. Dogs with a higher incidence of hip dysplasia are German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, rottweillers, Great Danes, golden retrievers, Doberman pinschers, mastiffs, and St. Bernards. Greyhounds and borzois have a lower incidence. Cats may develop dysplasia, but they rarely have severe symptoms because they weigh less and put less strain on their joints.

How can you screen for hip dysplasia?

Because dysplasia is passed down from dogs to their puppies, breeding symptom-free dogs is important. You should look back three or four generations to check for carriers in the bloodline. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (, a nonprofit organization that consults with breeders and purebred dog owners, will review dogs’ hip X rays and provide OFA certification for dogs that have normal hips. If you have questions about OFA certification, your veterinarian can give you more information.

Breeding two animals with excellent hips still won’t guarantee that all of the puppies will be free of hip dysplasia, but you’ll have a better chance of getting a dysplasia-free pup than if you breed two animals with fair or poor hips.

When do signs show up?

Dogs of all ages are subject to the symptoms of hip dysplasia, but in most cases, they don’t begin to show up until the middle or later years. If you want to check your pet for hip dysplasia at a younger age, schedule an X ray and physical with your veterinarian. If you are able to nip the problem in the bud at an early stage, you will prevent your dog from experiencing even greater problems down the road.

Dogs that show physical symptoms may walk or run with an altered gait, often resisting movements that require full extension or flexion of their hind legs. Many times, they run with a “bunny hopping” gait because their legs are stiff and painful after exercise or first thing in the morning. Dysplasia also may cause arthritis, which affects movement in affected dogs. Some pets will warm up nicely after they’ve been moving for a while. Other dogs’ gait will worsen with exercise, and they may resist extended activity.

As dysplasia progresses, dogs may lose muscle tone and even need help getting up. Many owners attribute the changes to normal aging, but once their pets are treated for dysplasia, owners may be shocked to see more normal, pain-free movement.

What can be done to prevent hip dysplasia?

Because hip dysplasia has a genetic basis, you can’t determine whether your puppy will get dysplasia by how you raise him, but you may influence when he begins to develop symptoms. If your pup has genes for hip dysplasia, it’s a good idea to prevent overly rapid growth while Rover is an adolescent because the additional weight puts strain on the hip, further loosening the ball-and-socket fit. If your young furry friend is at the high end of the weight scale or is a large breed, you should begin feeding him an adult dog food or a puppy food specifically developed for bigger dogs.

Dysplasia also may be aggravated by rough play, jumping, climbing stairs, sliding on slick floors, calcium supplementation (which can increase the rate of bone formation), or forced running for any distance, especially on hard surfaces. You can keep your canine buddy’s joints healthy by avoiding these situations as much as possible.

How do you treat a pet with hip dysplasia?

Dogs with hip dysplasia may be treated surgically or nonsurgically, depending on your veterinarian’s recommendations and the severity of the problem. Nonsurgical treatment to improve mobility and reduce pain includes the use of drugs like aspirin, phenylbutazone, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories), and steroids. These drugs should be administered only under the supervision of your veterinarian. Your veterinarian also might ask you to restrict your pet’s exercise. An ideal exercise for dysplastic dogs is swimming, which doesn’t stress their aching joints.

Surgery can correct current problems and/or keep the condition from progressing. Several surgical procedures are common; your veterinarian will recommend one depending on your dog’s age and the state of his joints.

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) often is used for dogs younger than 10 months that show signs of dysplasia on X rays but that haven’t yet developed symptoms. Surgeons will break the pelvic bone and realign the ball and socket correctly. As the bones heal, they will begin to fit together normally.

Total hip replacement is another option. This procedure involves removing the bad hip and replacing it with a prosthesis. In order to qualify for this procedure, your dog must be full-grown and weigh at least 35 pounds. Your veterinarian also may recommend other surgical options.

If you suspect your dog may have hip dysplasia, arrange for an X ray and physical exam. If your pet is diagnosed with the disease, she (or he) should be spayed (or neutered) so the disease isn’t passed on. You should also notify your dog’s breeder so that he can take steps to improve his breeding program. With help from you and your veterinarian, your dog can live a long and happy life with hip dysplasia.

Von Willebrand Disease


What is von Willebrand Disease?
Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs. The disease rarely occurs in cats.

Dogs with this disease cannot clot blood normally, which results in bleeding, especially after surgery or trauma. While this disease has occurred in more than 50 different dog breeds, the breeds most commonly affected include Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, golden retrievers, poodles, Shetland sheepdogs, Pembroke Welsh corgis and the German shorthaired pointer.

What Causes von Willebrand Disease?
The disease is caused by an inherited gene mutation that results in a deficiency in the quantity or activity of von Willebrand factor, a protein in the blood. When an animal is injured, cells called platelets stick to the damaged tissue to form a clot and prevent bleeding. Von Willebrand factor helps the platelets stick to each other, so a deficiency in this factor can result in abnormal bleeding.

What are the Signs?
Owners may not be aware that their dog has this disease until the pet experiences prolonged bleeding after a surgery or trauma. In severe cases, dogs may bleed from the nose, around the gum line, from the vagina, or have bloody urine or feces, even without trauma.

How is this Disease Diagnosed?
Pet owners who have a breed with a high predisposition to the disease may want to test their dog as a puppy. A blood test can measure the amount of von Willebrand factor in the blood sample. A DNA test is also available for a small number of breeds and can be performed with a simple swab inside the mouth.

It is important to know if your dog has the disease so that your veterinarian can take the necessary precautions to control bleeding if your dog needs surgery or is injured. Dogs that have von Willebrand disease or are carriers should not be bred, to prevent passing on the disease to their offspring.

In dogs suspected of having von Willebrand disease, veterinarians can perform a screening test before surgery. Most commonly, veterinarians will use a buccal mucosal bleeding time test. In this test, a small cut is made on the dog’s inner lip or gum (sedation may be needed for some pets), and the length of time required for the bleeding to stop is measured. A prolonged bleeding time may indicate a bleeding disorder.

How is Von Willebrand Disease Treated?
There is no cure for von Willebrand disease. However, in the event of a bleeding problem, dogs can be treated with transfusions of blood or plasma products to increase the amount of von Willebrand factor in the system. A synthetic hormone called desmopressin acetate may also be given to help the dog increase its level of von Willebrand factor.

It’s always better for the veterinarian to know about the disease before starting surgery. Transfusions may be given before, and if necessary, after the surgery to help prevent excessive bleeding. After treatment, the dog should be kept on strict cage rest and monitored until all bleeding has resolved.


Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats

Kidney Failure


Kidney failure refers to the sudden loss of a body’s ability to remove excess fluids, waste, and salts from the blood.
There are two types of kidney failure:
Chronic Kidney Failure occurs when your pet’s kidneys can no longer excrete waste products, produce hormones, and regulate the chemical composition of body fluids. As a chronic condition, this type of kidney failure causes the organ’s function to decrease slowly over a long period of time. Physical symptoms, outlined below, will appear gradually.
Acute Kidney Failure is a sudden decline in kidney function that causes changes in body chemistry such as alterations in fluid and mineral balances. These abrupt changes negatively affect almost every body system. Because of the rapid decline in kidney function, physical systems are more dramatic than with chronic kidney failure.


The most common cause of kidney failure is the organ’s wearing out with age. Kidney failure can also occur as a result of ingesting toxic substances, including antifreeze, some anti-inflammatory drugs and certain kinds of antibiotics. Some infections may also cause kidney function to decline.


  • Excessive drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Not eating for more than one day
  • Weakness of lack of coordination when walking
  • Depression
  • Weight loss or wasting of muscle tissue
The list above is not inclusive of all potential symptoms, and not all of the symptoms need to be present for kidney failure to be diagnosed.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Laboratory tests are crucial to diagnosing both chronic and acute kidney failure and to rule out other diseases. Your veterinarian will take blood and urine samples from your pet to test for values related to different kidney functions and ensure that an infection is not causing the physical signs of kidney disease.
Acute kidney failure is potentially reversible, but chronic kidney failure is not. An acute kidney problem may become chronic. Pets experiencing chronic kidney failure may not respond to treatment or they may live several months or years. Your veterinarian will take into consideration your pet’s history, physical examination, and laboratory test results to determine if the animal is suffering from acute or chronic failure. A kidney biopsy may also be necessary in order to provide an accurate prognosis of your pet’s condition and life expectancy. Hospitalization may be required.
      Treatment options
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Special diet to decrease protein and salt consumption
  • High blood pressure medication
  • Special diet and drug therapy to control vomiting and gastrointestinal problems
  • Anemia medication
  • Potassium supplements
  • Hospitalization and supportive care
When your pet leaves the hospital, your veterinarian will want to keep a close eye on its condition with frequent blood and urine tests. Make sure you follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding medications and special diets. In some instances, you may need to administer subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids at home.


There is no way to prevent kidney failure, but general recommendations include allowing your pet frequent opportunities to urinate, providing access to fresh, clean water at all times, and avoiding exposure to antifreeze by reducing the amount of unsupervised time your pet spends outdoors.
A pet’s kidneys will wear out over time due to the aging process. Chronic kidney failure is not preventable but the disease process can be slowed down when it is detected early. This is why it’s important to schedule routine examinations with your veterinarian that include blood and urine tests.


Are outdoor dogs and cats more likely to experience kidney failure?
Outdoor dogs and cats are more susceptible to kidney failure because they are more likely to ingest antifreeze, which is fatal even when ingested in small amounts. Because all breeds of dogs can be affected by kidney failure, your veterinarian may recommend blood work at an early age to establish baseline values.
Are all cats equally susceptible to kidney failure?
Cats are more likely than dogs to experience kidney failure and certain breeds are more likely to develop problems than others. These include Persians and Abyssinians.
Is kidney disease reversible?
In most cases, kidney disease is not reversible. Once kidney cells die, they do not regenerate. If the disease can be caught before cells die, it is possible to preserve adequate kidney function to preserve reasonable quality of life.

Wag Dog Festival 2012

Grab your BFF (best furry friend) and head to WAG! You’ll find a full day of activities and treats for the entire family.

Date: Saturday August 25th 2012

Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Prairie Oaks Metro Park (Darby Bend Lakes Area)

Area Dog Parks

Alum Creek Dog Park is a 4-acre public dog park located in the Alum Creek State Park adjacent to the reservoir with water access for dogs to swim, a dog wash station, drinking water for dogs and their owners, and restroom facilities. Separate small dog area.  Visit their website for more information.
Big Walnut Dog Park is the first off-leash public dog park in the city of Columbus.  It is located on the east side of Columbus on Livingston Avenue and includes three fenced acres and a pond.

Columbus Downtown Dog Park is located at the corner of Spring and Fourth Streets.

Columbus MetroParks offers 12 public pet trails at area public parks.  All pets are required to be on a 6-foot or shorter leash. Visit their website and click on “parks” to find a pet-friendly trail at a park near you.

Godown Dog Park is a public 10-acre park located near Linworth & Godown Rds currently being developed as a dog park. The park will consist of a one acre small dog area, a divided four-and-a-half acre large dog area and will also include benches, a hydrant for filling water bowls, pathways winding through the park and a paved parking lot.  Dog park construction is completed with an anticipated opening around Memorial Day 2012. Visit their website for more information.

Granville Dog Park is located in Wildwood Park north of Rt. 37 in Granville. It is a public dog park.

Nando’s Dog Park is a public 2-acre dog park located in Darree Fields Park in Dublin.   It features large and small dogs area and picnic facilities.  Visit their website for more information.

Pizzurro Park Dog Park is a public 4 acre fenced park in Gahanna.  It is open year ’round. It contains a separate fenced area for small dogs 25 pounds or less and an agility area for all dogs. A paved path runs through the large dog area making it accessible for wheelchairs.

Scioto Audibon Park is a public 2-acre dog park located downtown on the Whittier Pennisula with separate areas for small dogs and large dogs, each with its own agility course.


Sycamore Plains Dog Park at Three Creeks Metro Park is a public 4-acre dog park with separate areas for large and small dogs. It is open 6:30 am – 10 pm during the summer months.

Violet Township Dog Park at the corner of Stemen & Pickerington Rd. a public dog park.

Westerville Bark Park is a public 2-acre large dog park with areas for both large and small dogs located in Brookedge Park south of Schrock Rd, east of Cleveland Avenue and west of Westerville Rd.  Entrance is securely gated, with a dog water fountain, hydrants, ADA access and activity stations.

Wheeler Park is a public four-acre park in the short north area with a fenced area for dogs.

Other Public Parks which are popular with dog owners: Goodale Park, Schiller Park, Park of Roses and Antrim Park.

Fun Pet Ideas, Part 2

Another installment of our Fun Pet Ideas series with 4 new favorites!


1.  Planning on doing some remodeling anytime soon?  Don’t forget to include a little place for your four-legged friend!





2.  When going to your next yard sale, pick up a couple kitchen chairs and turn them into elevated dog food stands for your big dog.


3.  Create a pet station using an old armoire or wardrobe.  Sand and paint to match your decor and organize all of your animal-related items into one neat and tidy space.



4.  Make use of that close-to-ceiling space and create a wonderland for your cat.

Have you come up with something creative for your home to make your life easier or entertain your pet?  We want to hear about it!  Visit us on Facebook and share your ideas!


Photos courtesy of Pinterest

Amy Liss & Amy’s PAWsitive Dog Training

For those of you who attend our canine social hour, you are familiar with Amy Liss, owner of Amy’s PAWsitive Dog Training, LLC. We wanted to give you a little more information regarding Amy and her training.

Amy is a graduate of the American Behavior College where she earned her certification as an ABC Certified Dog Trainer. Animal Behavior College (ABC) is approved Blythe Bureau for Private Post secondary and Vocational Education and is an internationally recognized school. Her year-long commitment to this program has provided her with a formal education in canine obedience training and understanding behavior and its motives. Her certification, education, and experience provide her with the skills required to effectively and humanely train your dog while keeping alive the spark that makes your dog so special to you. Amy is also certified in Pet First Aid and in training shelter dogs. She currently serves the following locations: Bexley, Columbus, Dublin, Grandview, Hilliard, Worthington, and Upper Arlington.


Why training your dog is important

“Dogs often behave like small children”.  You’ve probably heard this comment from fellow dog owners.  Puppies, like children, can be sweet, innocent, and playful.  They’re not born with the knowledge of what is proper behavior.

Amy can help you learn better, more effective ways to communicate with your pet.  Her methods are positive and very effective.

Amy LOVES dogs: all dogs, big and small, puppy and adult, purebred and mixed.  As an ABC Certified Dog Trainer, she has the knowledge and skill to help you enhance the relationship with your canine friend.  The key to this relationship is an understanding of your dog’s behavior combined with consistent, effective training regardless of age.  While the best training period is during the puppy months, older dogs are extremely responsive.  She believes whomever said “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” just didn’t know how.

Amy’s training programs will teach your dog to accept you as a benevolent leader.  The end result will be that your dog will learn to listen to your cues while you eliminate or curtail unacceptable behavior challenges.  This will be accomplished while keeping your dog’s tail wagging!


Program Descriptions

  • Private, In-Home Training:  A 6-week basic or advanced obedience training class including behavior modification.
  • Group Classes:  Socialize your puppy/dog, learn leadership, and basic commands.
  • Individual Sessions:  Specializing in specific behavior modification issues such as aggression, anxiety, jumping, barking, etc.
  • Pet Sitting Services:  Keep your pet in the comfort of his/her home and on the same schedule while you are away.


Amy’s Training Goals

As an ABC Certified Dog Trainer, Amy is trained to assit you in achieving some or all of the following goals with your pet:

  1. Prevention of behavior problems.  Amy can help you teach your dog proper housebreaking methods, as well as how to curtail chewing and prevent unruly behvaior in your home.
  2. Learning to Listen.  Amy’s program will teach you how to communicate effectively and humanely with your pet.  Teaching your dog basic cues is of critical importance, particularly when it’s done in a humane, positive fashion.
  3. Solving behavior problems.  While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, many clients’ dogs already have existing behavior challenges.  Amy will assist with reasonable, effective solutions to common behavior problems.  Learn how to deal with nipping, jumping, chewing, digging, barking, housebreaking, unruly behavior, boundary training and more without having to resort to the use of intimidation to establish control.
  4. Listening around distractions.  Once your dog’s foundation of understanding has been taught, it becomes critical for your pet to learn to listen around distractions, such as other dogs, people, small animals, and cars.  Proper control around these distractions could save the life of your dog. 


If you would like more information, check out Amy’s contact information below:

Phone:  (614) 499-1902







Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

What is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) describes a collection of conditions that can affect the bladder and urethra of cats. This syndrome can have many possible causes, but cats generally exhibit similar, recognizable signs. Cats with FLUTD usually show signs of difficulty and pain when urinating, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine. Affected cats tend to lick their genital area excessively, and sometimes they will urinate outside the litter box, often preferring cool, smooth surfaces like a tile floor or a bathtub.

While the condition can be seen in cats of any age, it is most frequently seen in middle-aged, over-weight cats that get little exercise, use an indoor litter box, have restricted access outside, and eat a dry diet. Environmental factors, such as interactions with owners, multi-cat households, and changes in routine may also increase the risk that a cat will develop FLUTD.


How is FLUTD diagnosed?

Although cats with lower urinary tract disease behave in similar ways, the potential causes are multiple. Urinary tract infections, urinary stones, urethral plugs, cancer, and other disorders can affect the lower urinary tract of the cat. Because FLUTD can have many causes, it can be difficult to diagnose. Based on your cat’s signs, your veterinarian will likely perform an initial physical examination and run a urinalysis. If the cause of the cat’s signs has not been identified with a urinalysis, other testing may be recommended, including bloodwork, x-rays, and urine culture.


What are the most common causes of FLUTD?

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis
Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC)-also called interstitial cystitis-is the most common diagnosis in cats with lower urinary tract signs. FIC is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that the term FIC is used if all diagnostics fail to confirm the presence of another disease such as urinary stones. Cats suffering from FIC make frequent attempts to urinate, probably as a result of bladder discomfort, and often are found to have blood in their urine. Signs of lower urinary tract disease in cats with non-obstructive FIC often resolve spontaneously within a couple of weeks regardless of treatment. So most treatments attempt to prevent subsequent recurrence of signs.

Veterinarians have noted many similarities between FIC and a bladder disorder affecting humans called interstitial cystitis. Studies are ongoing to determine whether the human and the feline disorder are truly the same, and whether therapies helpful for humans will be of benefit to cats as well. In humans, a psychologically stressful event often precedes the onset of lower urinary tract discomfort due to interstitial cystitis, and stress also seems to be an important factor in the development of FIC in cats. Possible sources of stress in a cat’s life may include environmental changes, changes in food schedule, and changes in the number of animals in the household. Environmental enrichment and modification can reduce stress and decrease the severity and frequency of FIC episodes. To reduce environmental stress, cats should be provided a safe, clean area in which to urinate, as well as opportunities to express natural predatory behavior. These opportunities may include climbing posts and toys that can be chased and caught.

Because changes in food can also result in recurrence of FIC in some cats, the cat’s diet should remain consistent in both content and schedule. Many pet food manufacturers market diets formulated for “urinary health.” While these “special diets” may reduce the likelihood that cats with FIC will develop a urethral obstruction, there is no evidence that they have reduced the incidence of idiopathic feline lower urinary tract disease itself.

Urolithiasis (Urinary Stones)
Another possible cause of FLUTD is urinary stones-or uroliths-which are rock-hard collections of minerals that form in the urinary tract of cats. Cats with urinary stones will exhibit many of the common signs of FLUTD. X-rays or ultrasound are usually needed to make a diagnosis of urinary stones. The treatment of a cat with urinary stones depends on the mineral composition of the stones; however, surgical removal of stones is often required. The two most common stone types in cats are struvite and calcium oxalate.

For cats with struvite stones, a special stone-dissolving diet may be prescribed to eliminate the stones. If the diet fails to dissolve the stone, then surgical removal may be necessary. Struvite stones are becoming less common in cats, as most commercial feline diets are now formulated to reduce the likelihood of struvite formation by limiting the amount of dietary magnesium and by promoting the production of urine that is more acidic. Unfortunately, the percentage of stones composed of calcium oxalate has increased. The role-if any-that diet plays in the formation of calcium oxalate stones is actively being studied.

Unlike struvite stones, calcium oxalate stones cannot be dissolved with special diets, and more aggressive treatment is needed. Your veterinarian may be able to induce the stones to pass by flushing the bladder with sterile fluids. If they fail to pass, or if they recur, then surgery may be needed. Called a cystotomy, the surgery to remove bladder stones involves making an incision through the belly. The bladder is lifted into view, opened, and stones are removed.

Cats that have formed a stone are at increased risk for recurrence, and your veterinarian may recommend medication or dietary changes to help prevent recurrence.


Urethral Obstruction
The most serious problem associated with urinary function is urethral obstruction. Urethral obstruction-when the cat’s urethra becomes partly or totally blocked-is a potentially life-threatening condition and one of the most serious results of FLUTD. Urinary stones are only one of the causes of urethral obstructions. Another common cause is urethral plugs. Urethral plugs consist of a soft, compressible material that contains variable quantities of minerals, cells, and mucus-like protein.

Male and neutered male cats are at greater risk for obstruction than females, because their urethra is longer and narrower. Urethral obstruction is a true medical emergency, and any cat suspected of suffering from this condition must receive immediate veterinary attention. When the urethra is completely blocked, the kidneys are no longer able to remove toxins from the blood and maintain a proper balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body. If the obstruction is not relieved, the cat will eventually lose consciousness and die. Death most frequently occurs as a result of electrolyte imbalances, which ultimately cause heart failure. The time from complete obstruction until death may be less than twenty-four to forty-eight hours, so immediate treatment is essential.

A cat experiencing a urethral obstruction behaves similarly to any other cat with FLUTD: straining to urinate, frequently attempting to urinate, and producing little, if any, urine. However, as time passes, an obstructed cat typically becomes much more distressed-often crying out in pain.

Treatment of urethral obstruction usually involves catheterization, which is the passage of a narrow tube up the urethra, but other procedures are sometimes necessary. Unless the cat is comatose, catheterization usually requires sedation or anesthesia. After the obstruction has been relieved, treatment varies depending upon the condition of the cat. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are treated with intravenous fluid therapy. Antibiotics may be given to combat bacteria, and drugs that help restore bladder function are sometimes required. Hospitalization may range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the severity and duration of the obstruction.

For cats who continue to experience urethral obstruction despite proper medical management, a surgical procedure called a perineal urethrostomy may be suggested. The surgery involves removing much of the penis and the narrow portion of the urethra, leaving a wider opening for the remaining portion. Side effects of surgery can include bleeding for up to ten days after surgery, narrowing at the surgical site, urinary incontinence, and a greater incidence of other kinds of bladder diseases. For these reasons, perineal urethrostomy is usually considered to be a last resort.

What can I do at home to prevent future occurrences?

A few unfortunate cats who have suffered from lower urinary tract disease will experience frequent recurrences of bladder inflammation, re-obstruction, or formation of uroliths. Fortunately, most others rarely experience the problem again or will have only occasional recurrences. Home care of cats who have suffered from lower urinary tract disease is determined by the cause, and varies depending on the cat’s condition and history. Some steps can be taken, however, to help reduce the frequency of attacks and both the severity and duration of signs when the problem occurs:

Steps to Reduce Occurences and Signs of Lower Urinary Tract Disease

  1. Feed small meals on a frequent basis.
  2. For cats with a history of struvite formation, owners should feed diets that promote the formation of urine that is acidic. Most commercial diets meet this criteria. Avoid supplementing such diets with additional urinary acidifiers, because over-acidification can cause metabolic acidosis, impaired kidney function, and mineral imbalance.
  3. Provide clean, fresh water at all times.
  4. Provide an adequate number of litter boxes (usually one more than the number of cats in the household).
  5. Keep litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of the house.
  6. Keep litter boxes clean.
  7. Minimize major changes in routine.

Signs of Lower Urinary Tract Disease

  1. Straining to urinate.
  2. Frequent and/or prolonged attempts to urinate.
  3. Crying out while urinating.
  4. Excessive licking of the genital area.
  5. Urinating outside the litter box.
  6. Blood in the urine.

***Cats with a urethral obstruction will show the above signs but will pass little or no urine and will become increasingly distressed. A urethral obstruction is an absolute emergency, requiring immediate veterinary treatment.***


The Special Needs of a Senior Cat

Just as people are living longer than they did in the past, cats are living longer too. In fact, the percentage of cats over six years of age has nearly doubled in just over a decade, and there is every reason to expect that the “graying” cat population will continue to grow.



So how old is my cat, really?
Cats are individuals and, like people, they experience advancing years in their own unique ways.  Many cats begin to encounter age-related physical changes between seven and ten years of age, and most do so by the time they are 12. The commonly held belief that every “cat year” is worth seven “human years” is not entirely accurate.  In reality, a one-year-old cat is physiologically similar to a 16-year-old human, and a two-year-old cat is like a person of 21. For every year thereafter, each cat year is worth about four human years.  Using this formula, a ten-year-old cat is similar age wise to a 53-year-old person, a 12-year-old cat to a 61-year-old person, and a 15-year-old cat to a person of 73.


Advancing age is not a disease
Aging is a natural process.  Although many complex physical changes accompany advancing years, age in and of itself is not a disease. Even though many conditions that affect older cats are not correctable, they can often be controlled.  The key to making sure your senior cat has the healthiest and highest quality of life possible is to recognize and reduce factors that may be health risks, detect disease as early as possible, correct or delay the progression of disease, and improve or maintain the health of the body’s systems.


What happens as my cat ages?
The aging process is accompanied by many physical and behavioral changes:

  • Compared to younger cats, the immune system of older cats is less able to fend off foreign invaders.  Chronic diseases often associated with aging can impair immune function even further.
  • Dehydration, a consequence of many diseases common to older cats, further diminishes blood circulation and immunity.
  • The skin of an older cat is thinner and less elastic, has reduced blood circulation, and is more prone to infection.
  • Older cats groom themselves less effectively than do younger cats, sometimes resulting in hair matting, skin odor, and inflammation.
  • The claws of aging felines are often overgrown, thick, and brittle.
  • In humans, aging changes in the brain contribute to a loss of memory and alterations in personality commonly referred to as senility. Similar symptoms are seen in elderly cats: wandering, excessive meowing, apparent disorientation, and avoidance of social interaction.
  • For various reasons, hearing loss is common in cats of advanced age.
  • Aging is also accompanied by many changes in the eyes. A slight haziness of the lens and a lacy appearance to the iris (the colored part of the eye) are both common age-related changes, but neither seems to decrease a cat’s vision to any appreciable extent. However, several diseases-especially those associated with high blood pressure-can seriously and irreversibly impair a cat’s ability to see.
  • Dental disease is extremely common in older cats and can hinder eating and cause significant pain.
  • Although many different diseases can cause a loss of appetite, in healthy senior cats, a decreased sense of smell may be partially responsible for a loss of interest in eating. However, the discomfort associated with dental disease is a more likely cause of reluctance to eat.
  • Feline kidneys undergo a number of age-related changes that may ultimately lead to impaired function; kidney failure is a common disease in older cats, and its symptoms are extremely varied.
  • Degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, is common in older cats. Although most arthritic cats don’t become overtly lame, they may have difficulty gaining access to litter boxes and food and water dishes, particularly if they have to jump or climb stairs to get to them.
  • Hyperthyroidism (often resulting in overactivity); hypertension (high blood pressure, usually a result of either kidney failure or hyperthyroidism), diabetes mellitus; inflammatory bowel disease; and cancer are all examples of conditions that, though sometimes seen in younger cats, become more prevalent in cats as they age.


Is my cat sick, or is it just old age? 
Owners of older cats often notice changes in their cat’s behavior, but consider these changes an inevitable and untreatable result of aging, and fail to report them to their veterinarian. Failure to use the litter box, changes in activity levels, and alterations in eating, drinking, or sleeping habits are examples. While veterinarians believe that some behavior problems are due to the diminishing mental abilities of aging cats, it is a mistake to automatically attribute all such changes to old age. In fact, the possibility of some underlying medical condition should always be the first consideration. Disease of virtually any organ system, or any condition that causes pain or impairs mobility can contribute to changes in behavior. For example:

  • A fearful cat may not become aggressive until it is in pain (e.g., from dental disease) or less mobile (e.g., from arthritis).
  • The increased urine production that often results from diseases common to aging cats (e.g., kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, or hyperthyroidism) may cause the litter box to become soiled more quickly than expected. The increased soil and odor may cause cats to find a bathroom more to their liking.
  • Many cats that do not mark their territory with urine, even if exposed to intruding cats, may begin to do so if a condition like hyperthyroidism develops.
  • Cats with painful arthritis may have difficulty gaining access to a litter box, especially if negotiating stairs is required.  Even climbing into the box may be painful for such cats; urinating or defecating in an inappropriate location is the natural result.
  • Older cats may be more sensitive to changes in the household since their ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations diminishes with age.

The take-home message?  Never assume that changes you see in your older cat are simply due to old age, and therefore untreatable.  Any alteration in your cat’s behavior or physical condition should alert you to contact your veterinarian.


How can I help keep my senior cat healthy?
Close observation is one of the most important tools you have to help keep your senior cat healthy.  You may wish to perform a mini-physical examination on a weekly basis.  Ask your veterinarian to show you how to do it and what to look for.  You will find it easier if you just make the examination an extension of the way you normally interact with your cat.  For example, while you are rubbing your cat’s head or scratching its chin, gently raise the upper lips with your thumb or forefinger so you can examine the teeth and gums.  In the same way, you can lift the ear flaps and examine the ear canals.  While you are stroking your cat’s fur, you can check for abnormal lumps or bumps, and evaluate the health of the skin and coat.


Daily Brushing
Daily brushing or combing removes loose hairs, preventing them from being swallowed and forming hair balls.  Brushing also stimulates blood circulation and sebaceous gland secretions, resulting in a healthier skin and coat.  Older cats may not use scratching posts as frequently as they did when they were younger; therefore, nails should be checked weekly and trimmed if necessary.


Proper Nutrition
Many cats tend towards obesity as they age.  If your cat is overweight, you should ask your veterinarian to help you modify the diet so that a normal body condition can be restored.  Other cats actually become too thin as they get older, apparently as part of the normal aging process.  But progressive weight loss can also be caused by serious medical problems such as kidney failure, cancer, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, or some other condition. Subtle changes in weight are often the first sign of disease; ideally you should weigh your cat every month on a scale sensitive enough to detect such small changes.  Keep a record of the weight, and notify your veterinarian of any significant changes. To ensure proper nutrition, select a nutritionally balanced and complete diet for your cat’s stage of life, and one that is formulated according to guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).  Specific dietary changes may be necessary for cats with certain medical conditions.  Your veterinarian can be of invaluable assistance in helping you select the most appropriate diet for your senior cat.


Exercise is important, not only for weight control but overall health.  Older cats frequently become less agile as arthritis develops and muscles begin to atrophy. Regularly engaging your cat in moderate play can promote muscle tone and suppleness, increase blood circulation, and help reduce weight in cats that are too heavy.  During times of exercise, be alert to labored breathing or rapid tiring that may suggest the cat has a disease.  It may also be necessary to relocate litter boxes to more accessible locations to prevent elderly cats from eliminating in inappropriate locations.  Purchasing a litter box with low sides, cutting down high sides, or constructing a ramp around the box may help older cats gain entry more easily.


Reducing Stress
Reducing environmental stress whenever possible is very important since older cats are usually less adaptable to change.  Special provisions should be made for older cats that must be boarded for a period of time.  Having a familiar object, such as a blanket or toy, may prevent the cat from becoming too distraught in a strange environment.  A better alternative is to have the older cat cared for at home by a neighbor, friend, or relative. Introducing a new pet may be a traumatic experience for older cats, and should be avoided whenever possible. Moving to a new home can be equally stressful.  However, some stress can be alleviated by giving the older cat more affection and attention during times of emotional upheaval.

Cats are experts at hiding illness, and elderly cats are no exception.  It is common for a cat to have a serious medical problem, yet not show any sign of it until the condition is quite advanced.  Since most diseases can be managed more successfully when detected and treated early in their course, it is important for owners of senior cats to carefully monitor their behavior and health.