August 30, 2012

Small Pets for Kids

Filed under: Children and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:30 pm

Allowing small children to have pets is a great way to teach them responsibility. The love and care they develop towards their pets will help them become more patient and kind.

But kids are sometimes too immature to properly take care of some small animals. Some pets may not be able to suffer the stress of over-handling.

Children need proper guidance to care for their pets. It is important that the personality of the child matches with the pet for them to play together. Here are some of the best small pets for kids:

Hermit Crab
This can prove to be a very interesting pet for a calm child. They are social, active little creatures.

Their five sets of legs allow them to quickly crawl about. They are especially active in the evenings and watching them burrow in the sand, crawl on top of rocks or investigate their surroundings is a delight for many kids.

They are not a very ‘handled’ pet as they stay in their terrariums. Just feeding them and spending a little time with them is enough. Some kids are especially amused by the chirping sound a hermit crab makes sometimes.

A fish is a great choice as a pet for small kids. Since they stay in the water, your kids will not need to handle it and can watch the fish through the glass of the tank or bowl. Having a tank full of fishes is also not a problem but care should be taken that the fish are regularly fed and the tank is kept clean.

Betta fish are particularly easy to manage. Their vibrant colors make them very appealing to small children. Betta fish come in shades of red, green, orange and violet. However, only one Betta fish per tank. They are known to fight.

Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are a great starter pet for children ranging from five to ten years old.

Guinea pigs can weigh up to 3 pounds and are available in many colors and patterns. They can be kept in a portable enclosure where they can sleep, hide or run about. It is better to supervise your child when he wants to hold the guinea pig in his/her hands so that neither of the two gets hurt.

Hamsters are cute, furry and extremely friendly pets to keep. They are easily manageable and can be very amusing.

It is better to get a hamster if your child is eight years of age or older. Hamsters are noisy at night and spend most of their daytime sleeping. They can become grumpy and may even bite if awakened or disturbed by poking fingers. It is better if your child is old enough to understand not to annoy the little critter too much.

Rabbits are good pets for small kids. They can weigh between 2 to 13 pounds and are suitable for children that are eight years and older.

A specially made enclosure can be kept in your house. Rabbits are available in many colors and sizes and may have different ear lengths. They are very cuddly, but too much cuddling can scare your pet. As they need lots of exercise, you can train your pet outdoors to exercise using a leash and collar.

August 20, 2012

How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer

Filed under: pet health,tips about summer for dogs — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:45 pm

Summer is here and that means long days in the blistering hot sun. You know what to do when you get too hot and dehydrated, but do you know how to care for your beloved dog? Dogs don’t have the same cooling mechanism as you do. As a responsible owner, that means it falls to you to keep your dog comfortable and cool all summer.

Stay Hydrated

Bring fresh water with you everywhere. Get your dog a personal water bottle and fill it up just like your own. Stash a bowl in your car and pack a bottle of ice water on car rides and when out for a walk.

Minimize Sun Exposure

Dogs are most likely to suffer heat stroke between noon and 2pm. When possible, keep your dog inside during these hours. If you are out at the lake or the park, let her sit in a shady area to cool down and give her plenty of water. Let her hang out in the air conditioned car with you to lower her body temperature.

If your dog insists on frolicking in the water, bring her in every hour or so and feed her water under a shady tree. For shorter-haired dogs it’s a good idea to pick up some pet-safe sunscreen. There are products specifically formulated for dogs. Never use a human sunscreen as it may have chemicals that aren’t safe for dogs. Apply sunscreen to areas with less fur.

Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car

Even if you are just popping into the store for a minute, a hot car can be very dangerous to a dog. Vets see it time and time again – dogs being rushed into their offices with critical signs of heat stroke due to being left in a car.

Hot car plus dog equals 1) needless suffering and 2) walking a thin line to dog heat stroke. Consider carrying two sets of keys with you to leave the air conditioning running with the door locked if you have to leave her in the car.

Or leave her at home if you know that you have errands to run!

How to Recognize Dog Heat Stroke

Being outside for too long, being left in a car, or not getting enough water can put any animal at risk for heat stroke. Here are the signs to watch for:

  1. Heavy panting or difficulty breathing
  2. Vomiting
  3. Unsteady gait
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Seizures or a coma

In the early panting stages, take action by getting your dog into a shaded area, preferably an air conditioned room. Give your dog water. If your dog shows no signs of relief, take him or her to a vet right away.

As a Last Resort…

If it’s blistering hot both outside and inside, and your air conditioner is on the fritz, try these last resort tricks to prevent dog heat stroke:

  • Feed your dog some ice cubes.
  • Spray your dog with cold water.
  • Place a wrapped ice pack around your dog’s neck.
  • If you have a long-haired dog, keep his or her hair short all summer long with regular trips to the groomer.
  • Limit her exercise to the coolest parts of day – early morning or late evening.

Keeping your dog cool and comfortable is key to an enjoyable summer. Pay close attention to the signs of over-heating and protect your dog from getting too much sun.

August 16, 2012

What Toys to Buy a New Puppy

Filed under: Behavior,Dog Behavior,dog biting,dog toys — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:00 am

Let’s face it: puppies are adorable. They have little paws, soft fur, and a ton of energy. They will need plenty of toys to keep them busy and out of trouble.

Before you bring home your new puppy, make sure you have a few fun things for your puppy to play with. Here’s what to look for.

First, what he shouldn’t play with.

Puppy toys should not have attachments or points that can break off. If he swallows them he can get very sick, costing you a lot of money! Similarly he should not be playing with string, twist ties, or plastic baggies.

He cannot have your kids’ old toys that are made of rubber or sponge. Think about what toys you give your puppy and whether there is a potential for him to chew off small pieces and swallow them.

Consider a great chew toy.

There are all kinds of chew toys you can purchase for your new puppy. You may choose a harder one – such as a beef bone or a softer one – such as a soft rubber toy – depending on his size. Harder toys are best for older dogs. Younger dogs do enjoy a softer chew toy, but do not give them to older pups. Older, stronger dogs can chew off pieces and swallow them.

Or maybe a stuffed toy?

Puppies love soft, plush stuffed toys. They can easily sink their immature teeth into them and they love to throw them around and even cuddle them.

You may find yourself replacing a stuffed toy often. Throw them out as soon as they start to lose stuffing.

Balls. The old standard.

A ball is an inexpensive and easy way to keep your puppy active. Throw a tennis ball around and play a round of fetch with him. Assuming he knows fetch by then. A tennis ball is the perfect size as it poses no choking risk and is soft enough so he won’t damage any teeth.

Try a rope.

Ropes are great for playing tug-of-war with your puppy. Don’t pull to hard or you can hurt his jaw or neck. Ropes won’t damage sensitive puppy teeth, but they’re strong enough not to break off and cause a choking hazard.

Teething toys are sometimes necessary.

Soon enough your puppy will start teething. It’s uncomfortable for dogs and humans alike, so outfit him with some toys like these to keep him soothed.

  • The puppy Kong. Almost any dog owner can attest to how great the Kong is. The Puppy Kong is made of special rubber that makes it durable and satisfying to chew.
  • The Pet Stages Puppy Cool Teether is frozen to soothe irritated gums. Since it is a plush toy, it is popular for chewing.
  • Nylabone Detnal Dinosaur Flexible Chew. This toy comes in a flavoured dinosaur shape. The chewing action massages gums gently.
  • A frozen dishrag. Dip a clean dish cloth into water and twist it into a long thin shape. Freeze it and give it to your puppy when he needs to chew. It will work to numb is pain and it is very cost-effective.
  • An ice cube. Throw an ice cube into his food bowl and soothe his sore gums.

Keeping your puppy busy with plenty of playtime and toys is the best way to discourage him from chewing dangerous and expensive things like cords, shoes, and furniture. Proper toys that are physically and mentally stimulating save both you and your puppy from a lot of “bad dog” experiences!

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.