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Feline Friday: National Hairball Awareness Day

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That blue bed is as hairy as Seren-Kitty!

Do you know what today is?  It’s National Hairball Awareness Day! RomeoTheCat and FURminator are once again co-sponsoring an event to bring attention to this big-hairy-deal.

Have you ever discovered the latest squishy “kitty creation” by stepping on it, barefoot, at 3 a.m.? Ewww!

Cats, and some dogs (Pomeranian owners, am I right?!) swallow fur during self-grooming. Hopefully it ends up in the litter box or yard. But when it comes out the other end, the cat vomits hotdog or cigar-shaped hairballs.

Cats spend 30% of their lives grooming.

 Shedding season increases the odds kitty will “urk” more often, especially in longhair cats. The techie term for hairball is a “bezoar.”   I warn you, don’t click that link until after breakfast. I’m not posting a picture cuz I don’t want readers to “urk.” (Turns out, humans get bezoars, too, Ewww!)

I’m fortunate that Seren has short fur, but even that can accumulate and be swallowed. We kid that fur in a pet home should be considered a condiment, but if kitty swallows too much, it stops up the system. Baseball-size hairballs have been removed from cats. Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated.

That's a wad won't go into the cat, or stain my carpet on the way out.

The no-brainer solution is to groom kitty and pull off the fuzz before it gets swallowed. I have grooming tools–the dog Furminator (above) is awesome and works especially well on the Magical-Dawg. (I don’t even wanna think what size bezoars he’d produce!)

I received a kitty-size Furminator to test on Seren-kitty for this month. She is IN LOVE…I have the handy grooming tool next to my chair. Each evening Seren arrives for a session of lap-snuggling and purr-icity while the kitty Furminator massages her whiskers to tail. She has not “urked” up a hairball this whole month, ever since we began getting rid of the extra fuzzies.

Here are more ways to manage hairballs. Do your cats get hairballs? What do you do to prevent ’em? What about your DOGS and hairballs? Cats that groom dog friends increase their hairball risk, too. Do your fur-kids like or loathe grooming. What are some tricks you use to keep a handle on fuzzy-icity? Please share!

Groom the cat. The cheapest, easiest hairball cure is to regularly comb and brush your cat. Any hair you remove won’t be swallowed to end up staining your upholstery. The Furminator eliminates up to 90 percent of shed fur.

Feed a hairball diet. A variety of commercial products are designed to prevent hairballs. They include extra nondigestible fiber. That helps push swallowed hair through the digestive tract, so it is eliminated naturally with each bowel movement.

Add some fiber. If you’d rather not switch foods, just add fiber to kitty’s regular diet. Mix in a teaspoon of plain bran or Metamucil to canned meals. Flaxseeds or psyllium husks, available in health food stores, also act as natural laxatives and work well. Add ¼ teaspoon of flaxseeds or psyllium for every meal.

Offer pumpkin. Canned pumpkin—the plain type, not for pies—is very rich in fiber and cats often love the taste. Get a jumbo-size can, and divide into teaspoon-size servings and freeze in an ice cube tray. Thaw one serving at a time, mixing into the regular food or offer as a treat once or twice a week.

Give a bit of honey. If your cat doesn’t appreciate canned pumpkin, you can offer a natural laxative, two or three times a week. Combine raw oatmeal, honey, and olive oil into a paste. Offer one to two tablespoons as a treat when hairballs are a problem.

Lubricate the gut. Butter will make your cat purr, but it won’t help hairballs. Digestible fats like butter can cause diarrhea and usually get absorbed before they can move the problem out. Instead, offer non-medicated petroleum jelly. It looks nasty but many pets like the taste. It will coat the hairball to make it slide more easily out of the system. If kitty refuses to accept a finger-full scraped into his mouth, just spread the jelly on his paw so he has to lick it off as he grooms. Commercial hairball remedies often add salmon or malt flavoring to similar petrolatum products. Take care to follow label instructions or your veterinarian’s advice, though. Overuse of these products can interfere with the pet’s use of fat-soluble vitamins.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Writer-icity & Pet Talk

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Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

Awesome Shirt Folding Tips! from Margaret Miller’s Blog, this is amazing, you gotta see!

Own Your Beauty–It’s Contagious from the awesome blogger Myndi Shafer

Facebook Timeline Tips from Lorie Huston

WRITER SCHTUFF

Kansas Writers Association “Scene 2012” Writer Workshop, and yes, I’m a speaker offering sessions on “kindle-ization” and “media training for authors.” Come say howdy…I’ll be wearing the sparkles (surprise!)

AgentFest, a part of Thrillerfest with some awesome opportunities for writers (yes, I’ll be there)

Branding For Sissies Hey if I can do this so can you. Just sayin’ . . .

Book Club for Authors/Readers a fee-based sign up for authors to get works-in-progress in front of readers for feedback.

RWA®’s Kiss of Death Chapter presents~~ The 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery Suspense

Heightening Suspense from Guest Blogger Jodie Renner

Gorgeous Mousepads! for spiffing up you office decor (yes, I want one of these…)

Writer Beware on Trusting Sources (or Not)

Turning Author Site Into A Store tips from Jen Talty

Tribr How-To from the awesome Jenny Hansen

PINTEREST SCHTUFF

Pinterest for Biz

How Pinterest Engages Better than Twitter Et Al,

How Random House Uses Pinterest

Pinterest Boo-Boos to Beware

Embrace Your Inner Doberman from Sonia Medeiros, good info for anyone including writers

PETS & ANIMAL SCHTUFF

VAFA Shelter Now on PetFinder yeee-haw! This is the FIRST animal shelter in Iran, and dogs fostered in the US now can find their forever-homes via PetFinder connection. Here’s a video you MUST SEE of two rescue GSD-mix pups on grass for the first time.

Pet Industry Estimates $53 Billion Spending

9 Dental Issues You Share With Pets, my latest at Huffington Post

Zero Odor Wins Product of the Year Award! If you haven’t tried this product, check it out

A Beloved Horse Lost–and Found! this is a 3-hanky story you’ll love!

Lost Woman’s Cat Never Leaves Her Side

Australia’s Love-Hate with the Dingo

Greyhound Races Thing of the Past?

Animal Sounds Around the World you say toMAtoe, and I say meow…

NPR Transcript Discusses Animal-Human Bond Benefits

So…what’s the cat saying? And does the toddler understand? Are both “learning” from the communication?

Totally tongue-in-cheek how animals talk (or beak in feathers…)

Westchester Cat Show Interview

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: How To Brush Puppy Teeth

Chewing is my passion

Special dental chews can help with tooth care.

Pungent pet breath goes beyond offending houseguests; it signals the beginning of dental disease that’s not only painful, but can cut short your pet’s life. February is National Pet Dental Health Month so it’s the perfect time to “brush up” on recognizing and preventing tooth trouble.

Eighty percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop dental problems (periodontal disease) by the age of three. Pets don’t brush their teeth, so bacteria grow in left-behind food, mineralize, and forms plaque. The bacteria also release enzymes that cause receding gums that loosen teeth, and redness and swelling (gingivitis). If that’s not enough, chewing pumps bacteria into the bloodstream through the raw gums. That damages your pet’s heart, liver and kidneys.

There are many products out there for dogs to help keep those teeth pearly white. But the absolutely best way to prevent dental issues is to GASP! brush your dog’s teeth.

I can see y’all quivering in your socks at the thought. But it really isn’t all that difficult. I’ve just posted a step-by-step how-to in this article on how to brush puppy teeth (it works for adult dogs, too). You’ll also want to take a look at the video, below, from my friend Dr. Jim Humphries.

Do you brush your dog’s teeth? Does he have breath that’d knock over a moose? How do you manage Poochie’s dental care? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!  NOTE: the Pet Peeves newsletter will have a special VALENTINE’S DAY ISSUE you won’t want to miss!

Monday Mentions: Teach Writing, Brushing Pet Teeth & Dog Show Fun!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. I’m sure you’ll find something to bring a smile, a puzzled look, or a “who’d-a-thunk-it?” Enjoy!

Here’s a reason to celebrate, though. My good friend Priscilla Maltbie has a new book out! If you have children or just enjoy a lovely story with glorious illustrations, check out BAMBINO AND MR. TWAIN (yep, it’s true, Mark Twain/Samuel Clements loved cats!).  “Grieving the death of his wife, America’s favorite author and humorist shuts himself up in his Fifth Avenue house and abandons his writing. Only his daughter’s cantankerous cat, Bambino, seems to understand Samuel Clemens and his moods. When the feisty cat disappears, Sam is determined to find him, and along the way, he also finds the will to live again.” Congrats Priscilla! You can find the book here.

Technology has it ‘in’ for me lately. Last week our TV went kerflooey (that’s a techie word, meaning, the dang thing quit!). I punched every button the furshluggener remote and nothing happened. This was truly angst-elevating because my hubby cannot live without the TV. It–must–be–on, never mind that he’s snoozing, his unconscious hand stays clenched around that remote like a mongoose on a snake. (aside: can a hand be unconscious? never mind…)

Then the phone went kerflooey. That’s right, my landline office number went out probably sometime Friday afternoon. So much of my work is done via email that I didn’t notice until Sunday night when my husband was aggravated upon his return home that I’d not answered my cell phone or the house line despite multiple calls. Heck, I turned off the cell because I was HOME! But sure enough, no dial tone. The fine folks at Verizon have me scheduled for a fix-the-phone on February 8. THAT’S RIGHT, ELEVEN FRICKIN’ DAYS FROM NOW! Ahem. They dang well better pro-rate the bill.

Maybe they techie fairies had pity because about that same time we discovered the phone was AWOL, the right TV remote button got pushed and the television resurrected. Whew. I’d already prepped for reasons why a flat screen tv does not look good poised in front of cherry wood cabinetry or mounted over the fireplace. *shudder*

Perhaps I’m a bit hissy because we’re moving to the RIALTO tonight for KURVES rehearsal–and I’ve nearly lost my voice. That’s right, it’s a music rehearsal and I can’t sing. Oh well. It’s always something.

WRITING SCHTUFF

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to distribute Amazon books Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s brand new New Harvest imprint will now publish “all of Amazon Publishing’s New York-based imprint’s adult titles in print and distribute them in North America outside of the Amazon.com platform.”

How To Teach Someone to Write Well  Is it a gift or learned skill? What do you think?

Alexandra Sokoloff’s Class Schedule  If you want tips on writing, she’s the go-to-gal for fiction, thrillers, screenplays.

Tips for Pricing Your Work

Pinterest Tips for Writers Wow, yet another place to become “social.” Nope, haven’t tried it. Yet. Already doing too much, I think.

What are the most popular #Hastags for twitter? Check it out.

Facebook “Timeline” to Become Mandatory  I’ll admit, I know nothing about this. Will this be good, bad or indifferent for us? Hmnnn.

CAT SCTUFF

Mainstreaming A Feral Cat from the awesome blog by Deb Barnes (you MUST watch the video, some kewl info about cat care for low income folks, too).
Along those same lines here’s a great blog from a Cat Guy on TNR.

Cat Escapes into Plane “Innards”  don’t let this happen to YOUR cat! A delayed flight was the least of kitty’s problems

In response to my puppy article on how to brush puppy teeth, my colleague Ingrid King pointed out an awesome link from Cornell with a video on how to teach cats to accept teeth brushing. Check it out here!

DOG SCHTUFF

All about the joys of fostering pets, a lovely article!

In celebration of dogs in art, the American Kennel Club® (AKC®) and Bonhams Auction House are hosting their annual charity brunch, Barkfest at Bonhams, on Sunday, February 12, 2012 from 10 a.m. to noon, benefiting the AKC Humane Fund, Inc. 

Don’t miss the AKC Eukanuba National Championship.  This year’s show will air on ABC on Saturday, February 4that 2:00 pm EST (check local listings). Watch as the country’s premier dogs vie for $225,000 in prizes. Additional footage, including the full coverage of groups, the Eukanuba World Challenge and the Eukanuba Breeder’s Stakes, will be available at www.eukanuba.com. Bred-By-Exhibitor group videos are available on the AKC website.  Visit www.akc.org/aenc for more information about the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.

Diabetes In Dogs a nice overview that I found because (wow!) they quoted my book Pet Care in the New Century!

HILARIOUS SCHTUFF!

A Funny Funeral? Seriously? YES!  We need to laugh during sad times most of all and my friend Jenny Hansen’s blog today is one you’ll want to save. Awesome! (had to come in and add it to the list, it’s THAT GOOD!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Pets & Poison Plants!

magic w red roses

Roses are edible--but not all plants are safe!

Today I’ll be on KXII-TV’s “Pet Talk” discussing holiday safety for pets and that includes pets and poison plants. The video (below) is from last year but today’s segment will address many of the same issues. This blog has already covered a number of tips about protecting the Christmas tree from both your dogs and the kitty-cats. But what are some other plant poisons that happen around the holiday?

PETS & POISON PLANTS

We know today that poinsettia isn’t the demon-child out to get your pets, but it can cause some irritation. And there are some very dangerous plants out there.

The deadliest plants must be chewed or swallowed for the poison to work. Dogs are affected most often, particularly breeds that eat anything that doesn’t move faster than they do. Some cats enjoy grazing opportunities and nibble leaves, but all cats can be affected after clawing the plant, when they later lick their paws clean. Paws, mouths, and sometimes ears and eyes also are vulnerable to spiky parts of plants. Swallowed Christmas tree needles, for example, do damage to the tender insides of the pet, too.

BAD PLANTS FOR PETS

Azalea, for example, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma and death. Eating or chewing caladium, dieffenbachia or philodendron makes the tongue and throat swell up so breathing is difficult. Mother-in-law’s tongue (snake plant) causes everything from mouth irritation to collapse. Crown of thorns and English ivy will prompt thirst, vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain, and death in one to two days. Holly also causes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, while lily poisoning prompts kidney failure (excess urination and drinking). Mistletoe can be deadly—only one or two berries can kill your pet, and causes vomiting, diarrhea, slowed breathing and heart rate.

PET FIRST AID FOR PLANT POISONS

Different poisons require very specific first aid. Usually that will be either 1) induce vomiting, or 2) give milk or water to wash out the mouth and dilute the poison. Make the pet vomit with these tips. But making the pet vomit the wrong poisonous plant,  could make a serious situation even more deadly, so you MUST know what to do for each type of plant.

You’ll also need to be ready to give pet CPR and rescue breathing if necessary. When there’s a question about what first-aid to offer, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center for accurate advice.

Detailed advice for dealing with the most common plant poisoning is available in The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. The ASPCA Animal Poison-Control Center provides a database of common pet poisons, and is available for telephone consultations (1-888-426-4435) in case of poisoning emergency. The fee can be charged to your credit card. Preventing plant poisoning is ideal. Choose only pet-friendly safe varieties for your garden and home.

What type of plants do you have in your house? How do you keep the fur-kids away? Have you ever had a pet poisoned by plants? What did you do? I hope these tips help prevent any future mishaps!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Cats, Dogs, Writing & Cute Kitten Videos

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. This past weekend I’ve managed to finish two new puppy articles on hypothermia and frostbite first aid, edit/upload a new video (see below, SQUEEEE!), and edit several more fiction chapters. Oh, and I’ve written (in advance) all the blogs for this week. Whew!

That’s because I leave for the Cat Writers’ Association annual conference this Thursday and will present the Shojai Mentor Award at the banquet. Friday evening I partner with Susan Logan, editor of Cat Fancy Magazine, as the entertainment for the event. We’ve had some challenges putting together the musical accompaniment, but I think finally the orchestration (on CD) is ready. I hope to see y’all there!

CAT SCHTUFF

Kitty Ball Bed–buy a raffle ticket, win a fashionable snooze spot for your feline, AND benefit Floppy Cats. Oh, a “floppy cat” is a Ragdoll kitty, a stunning breed, and this raffle item from The Refined Feline benefits Ragdoll Cat Rescue.

Darlene Arden’s PerPETually Speaking Blog offers a lovely post on Adopting Older Pets

Lisa Mac’s shares tender remembrances of a brown spotted tabby in Across the Rainbow Bridge

Last winter Christine Davis lost two very special fur-kids. This always leaves a hole in a pet parent’s life. But when your livelihood also is intrinsically linked to the furry loves in your life, every waking moment (and even when you sleep at night) you are reminded of that absence.  But Christine did something about her pain and the result is FOREVER PAWS, a gentle and tender fable that comforts those who hurt while celebrating our cherished relationship.

I don’t have children, don’t understand ’em, can’t write for ’em (they scare me!) and almost NEVER review kid books. Although this small gift book is appropriate for children (I think–what do I know?),  it strikes a chord with this adult. I was already a fan of Christine’s other books–but this one is extreeee spashul. I hope you won’t lose the furry love of your life for a long, long time. But when it happens, Christine’s book FOREVER PAWS will help.

WRITING SCHTUFF

Cat Writers Association Annual Conference in White Plains, New York, November 17-19. Yes, folks that’s THIS COMING WEEKEND! Currently there are 11 editors/agents scheduled for one-on-one appointments, over a dozen seminars, sparkle-icity during the awards and receptions, and–oh yes–a nearby cat show. Lots of dog-centric folks and just dang fine writers of all stripes will be there.

When Can A Young Child Testify? from Dr. Doug Lyle’s forensics blog and guest blogger Leslie Budewitz

Bloody Good-And She BITES! another from Doug’s awesome blog about a woman who truly believes she’s a vampire (and sets out to prove it, ew!)

Build Tension With Physical Intimacy–In your novel, of course! Great info in time for the Na-No…aka Nonny-Nonny-BooBoo novel writing month. But seriously, Jenny Hansen nails it again.

A Sure Thing–Not! from Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency (prepare to gnash dentures)

10 Absolutely Fantastic Intensifiers You Should Really Avoid–awesome, dude!

In early November I received a delightful note from Darlene Jones, thanking me for the Tuesday Tips series on Kindle-ization. She says the tips helped her through the process publishing her novel EMBATTLED which has already garnered a positive review. Congrats, Darlene! May your book be read and enjoyed by many, and your royalty statements have commas!

KOBO (an Ebook Platform) sold to Japan’s Rakuten for $315 million. And they say there’s no money in Ebooks. Pshfffft.

Beware The Social Media Snuggie from Kristen Lamb–she knows this schtuff! And she’s funny, too. *s*

Gene Lempp has an incredible blog and each Saturday his mashup of awesomeness lists some of the best blog-icity on the planet, including priceless info for writers. Here’s the most recent blog treasures post–you’ll want to bookmark this.

DOG SCHTUFF

Dog Seminars Directory A site that lists a variety of dog-centric seminars scheduled around the world.

Awesome dog writer Caroline Coile has launched a new blog–yay!–and you MUST read this very kewl post about 11 Famous Canine War Veterans.  The second on the list, Sgt Stubby, probably wouldn’t be welcome in many circles today. *huge sigh*

Nominate A Dog Hero  for the 2012 Dog Hero Awards through The American Humane. Categories include police, military, service, therapy, guide, and search and rescue dogs.

Susan McCullough, another talented dog writer/author, blogs over at the Northern Virginia Dog Blog about her “Nine, Going On Two” senior dog. Lovely post.

November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month with some great info from the experts at VCA Animal Hospitals, check it out! Since diabetes is often a disease of aging pets, it’s appropriate to learn about this the same month we’re encouraging “aging pet” adoptions. Learn about doggy diabetes here, and for the kitties you can learn about feline diabetes here. 

Jake the Dog Daily Blog, the life and times of a yellow lab.

I-DO-THIS-FOR-A-LIVING SCHTUFF

How’d I get so lucky, eh? This past week a bunch of us behavior consultant types gathered together for a very tough assignment. Seems my colleague Dr. Amanda Florsheim took in a feral kitty who was “too preggers” to fix. The resulting four babies currently are about 6-7 weeks old by the time you read this. Our fantastic fun evening arduous task was to help socialize them. You can tell from the video it was a harrowing experience.

Prime kitten socialization period is 2-7 weeks so Amanda has exposed the babies to friendly dogs, kids, many adults, different locations–and scary-R-us behavior consultants. Once the pizza arrived the kits turned into cheese-heads. I still have my fingers so the bite inhibition training has worked very well.

Please contact me if you fall in furry love with one of these babies and I can arrange an intro–although I hope you’ll consider adopting a senior kitty, doggy or other fur-love in your own locale.

THANKS!

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: What Is Old & Fetching Fools

.

Old dogs, old friends--extra care is WORTH it!

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance.

Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months.

A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of her life. However, we can’t accurately predict what an individual pet’s life span will be, so pinpointing when old age begins is tough. Ask the breeder about the life span of your pet’s parents and grandparents. That’s a good predictor of how long you could expect your cat or dog to live. Mixed-ancestry pets are more difficult to predict, but you can make a few generalities.

affenpinscher

Little guys age more gracefully than giant breeds.

Extended Lifespan

In the past fifty years, the average life span of small dogs has tripled. They used to live to be only six or seven years old, but today it’s not unusual for your Chihuahua to live into late teens or early twenties. With an average potential life span of fifteen to seventeen years, onset of old age—when a little dog becomes “senior”—would be about age eleven to thirteen.

Even large-breed dogs, which age more quickly, commonly reach ten to thirteen years of age—double the life span of the past few decades. They would therefore be considered old starting at about seven years.

Giant breed dogs (those weighing over eight pounds or so) tend to age earlier than smaller pets. Great Danes, for example, are considered “senior” at age five, and typically live only seven to nine years. There are exceptions, of course, with some very large dogs living healthy, happy lives well into their teens.

Viszla

Sniffing ability is maintained longer than eyesight or hearing--use it!

Youthful Doggedness?

So you have an old fogey doggy–how do you keep him youthful? What happens when that go-go-go puppy attitude turns into a yen for snoozing the day away? Dogs can become frustrated when their youthful abilities fade away and they’re no longer able to leap tall buildings–or onto sofas–with a single bound, or chase the Frisbee and catch it without effort.

I have one word for you: ACCOMMODATION.

Enrich the dog’s environment and make accommodations for his new skill set. Agility dogs can still perform all those tricks of fetch and vault, just lower the bar a bit. For blind dogs, put a bell inside the ball or scent with liverwurst so his nose knows where to find it.

Today’s Ask Amy strikes close to home because my Magical-Dawg is a fetching fool. Currently he’s in his prime and has no problem chasing and leaping until  his tongue drags the ground. But since this is Magic’s all-time-favorite-of-them-all (excluding car rides!), I know that FETCH will be a game that helps keep him young even when he’s an old fogey.

Do you have a fetching fool? What about your old dogs–what games do they love? Have you made accommodations for their aging abilities? Please share!

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Thoughty Thursday: When A Vet Hurts Your Pet

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The death of a pet takes a bit of your heart with them. We know when they come into our life that chances are we will outlive our special cat or dog. And then when life happens and injury or illness appears, caring owners do all that they can given the circumstances to keep that special fur-kid happy, pain-free, and by our side (or on your lap) as long as possible.

Modern veterinary medicine makes that possible. At no time in the past have there been such wonders of diagnostics, drugs, surgeries and treatments available! The whole book of Pet Care in the New Century describes the advantages and opportunities out there. And today more than ever society accepts the idea of spending funds on pets, too.

But what happens when you choose to go that extra mile, get your special pet that beyond-the-basics care…or heck, even BASIC care…and something awful goes wrong? In human medicine there’s such a thing as malpractice for such cases, right? What about for pets?
Seren On Stairs
Today’s Ask Amy is brand new. I spent most of yesterday recording 20 episodes answering questions–but this one is so different than the others. The question is heartbreaking because I don’t have good answers. I’m shocked and heartbroken over this pet owner’s experience, especially since I write about TPLO surgeries in my book.

Please share your ideas, experiences, suggestions with readers. What would you do? I really don’t know what I’d do should such a thing happen with Seren-kitty or Magical-dawg. What I do know, though, is that veterinarians are in the business of helping–not hurting–our animal companions. And that bad stuff happens to good pets.

I pray you and your pets never have to go through such an experience.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Fire Safety

I’d planned a fun Ask Amy question today, but more serious issues are on the table. North Texas and beyond continues to suffer drought conditions, with fires an ongoing risk.

Governor Rick Perry reports that more than 3.5 million acres of land have burned–that’s about the size of Connecticut–with most fires concentrated in Central Texas and devastating Bastrop county where more than 600 homes have burned so far. That area has been evacuated. The shelter has been evacuated and moved to a temporary location and then forced to be evacuated a second time. The fire continues to burn.

Austin Pets Alive! received about 160 dogs from the evacuated Bastrop County Animal Shelter early Monday morning and now offer free adopti0ns to reduce the load. APA! is asking for support from the community. Donations of dog beds, dog food, money and volunteers are all needed. Check out this heart breaking report from my colleague Steve Dale with more details.

FIRE FIRST AID

I wrote about disaster preparation on the blog back in June,  and last Valentine’s day we had a grass fire here on our property. The video, below, doesn’t do justice to what’s happening right now in parts of Texas. Just multiply our experience by several thousand times and you still won’t come close to imagining the tragedy faced by the Bastrop area fires. Too many folks have already lost homes, property, and even the lives of human and animal loved ones. Knowing what to do should your cat or dog suffer fire-related injury could save their lives.

Most cases of smoke inhalation involve situations where the pet cannot escape. Dogs and especially cats tend to hide when frightened, and may not make an effort to get out of a burning building until too late. But the recent wind-fanned flames of grassfires move quickly, produce a lot of smoke, and can catch outdoor pets unprepared.

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Pugs and other short-faced breeds have more difficulty with smoke.

Dogs and cats with history of respiratory problems, such as flat-faced breeds or pets with asthma, may suffer health problems even with mild exposure to smoke. But smoke is composed of various gases that also make pets–and people–sick when inhaled, and the ash or soot irritates and clogs the lungs. Affected pets gasp, cough, and often pass out when they can’t get enough oxygen. Their gums become pale or blue.

With mild cases of smoke inhalation, moving the cat or dog into clean air may be all that’s needed. But all pets require veterinary attention because even if they seem to recover, smoke can kill hours to days after it’s inhaled.

FIRST AID FOR BURNS

With burns, the fur often hides the damage, so be sure to carefully examine your pet if you suspect he’s been in the vicinity of a fire. Remove his collar, and trim the fur short with blunt scissors around and over the area of the burn.

First-degree burns cause red marks and can be treated with simple first aid. Flush the burn with cool water for 5 to 10 minutes to temporarily anesthetize and clean the injury. Burns continue to “cook” the tissue even once the heat source is gone so prompt attention stops the damage. Use a garden hose for outdoor pets or bring smaller pets into the bathtub or sink and use a spray bottle or handheld showerhead. You can use aloe vera ointments or vitamin E directly on mild burns to help speed healing. These won’t cause problems if the pet licks them off. Mild burns won’t need bandages.

Burns that cover 25 percent of the pet’s body lead to shock (that can kill him!) and applying cool water makes shock worse. Instead, apply a bag of ice to the burn (frozen peas or corn works well), wrap the pet in a towel and get him to the vet immediately. You can estimate percentage of body mass the burn involves by knowing that each limb represents about 10 percent of the pet’s total.

Have you ever experienced a fire? I know of cases where the pet actually saved the family by alerting them to the danger. What precautions have you taken to keep yourself and your pets safe in case of disaster? In these windy, dry days, protect your furry family members–and yourselves–from the threat of fire. But should the unthinkable happen, be prepared. Here’s my close call–I pray never to have this happen again.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Labor Day Travel & Pets

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Seren helps me pack--but prefers to stay home.

Welcome (almost) to Labor Day Weekend Travel, woo-woo! What do you have planned? Will you stay at home and catch up on (ew!) work? Or take a trip to celebrate the end of summer? Maybe you’ll shuffle across the state to spend time with family. Or perhaps it’s the perfect time to make that move to a new apartment or job.

What about the fur-kids? Will you take them with you for the trip to Grandma’s cookout? Or do you plan to take them along for that last summer fling to go to the lake? Do the cats enjoy rides in the cat carrier? Are the dogs eager to hop into the car? What about plane travel? Oooooh, so many questions!

BEWARE THE UN-FRIENDLY SKIES

My cat Seren isn’t a fan of carriers or cars. I can only imagine what all the hurled cat-curses would mean should she be asked to take a plane trip. I really cannot recommend taking any pet on board a plane as “baggage” these days. The scary stories abound of pets lost or injured at airlines when carriers are damaged or the cat or dog escapes. The most recent one chronicles Jack the cat lost at JFK baggage center just as the airport shut down for the hurricane last weekend. The owner has hired a pet-tracking canine to find her missing cat. But this wouldn’t have happened–or the risk would have been less–had she been allowed to take the cat in the cabin as carry-on luggage. Here’s an article with details to consider and tips for traveling with your cats by plane.

Luca

Luca rides in style! (Copr. KTJacobs via Flickr)

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG . . .

What about car travel? My first dog threw fits, cried, and even got sick on the drive home from the breeder. And that experience probably colored his entire future expectation of car rides. The first ride in the car takes him away from the only family he’s ever known. The next several car rides end up at the veterinarian for needle pokes for puppy vaccinations and rude cold thermometers inserted in uncomfortable places.

Cats are no different and actually may be worse because cats HATE CHANGE. Most dogs enjoy a bit of adventure so you can play up the fun aspect. How did you get your pets used to riding in cars? Here are some puppy car riding tips and they’ll work for adult dogs, too. The kitty version is here, including some crate training help.

LAKE CONCERNS & WARNINGS

I grew up in Northern Indiana, our house was on the river and I spent countless summer days in, on, and around the river and lakes including those in Michigan. In my new home state, North Texas boasts Lake Texoma–a man-made lake/reservoir that attracts swimmers, boaters, skiers, family vacationers–and their pets. Of course we want to ensure everyone has fun around (or in) the water but this summer a new warning made the rounds. Just in time for Labor Day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned people to HAVE NO SKIN CONTACT with the water in Lake Texoma. No swimming allowed. They also warned of water spray risk if inhaled while boating. And drinking the water (can you say PETS?) also poses a risk. That’s because the drought lowered water levels while the heat encouraged the growth and bloom of blue-green algae, which releases toxins into the water.

This particular kind of blue-green algae is called cylindrospermopsis and blooms beneath the surface of the water–you won’t see mats, scum or foam associated with other blooms. Boaters and swimmers won’t know they’re in the middle of the stuff. Dogs won’t care. And the CDC warns that skin contact can cause skin irritation, inhaling water droplets can cause runny eyes and nose, sore throat, asthma-like symptoms or allergic reactions; and swallowing it can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and damage the liver, kidney and neurological systems. So check water recreation areas in your neck of the woods and keep yourself–and your pets–safe!

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What are you doing this weekend with your pets? Magic will be playing hose-tag, while Seren catches up on some lap-sitting time. Oh and fair warning…I’m taking a (rare) day off on Monday to work on my thriller WIP so check back on Tuesday for the next blog. Have a fun and SAFE weekend!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!