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October 2013

Three things you might not know about fleas.

 by wai on 31 Oct 2013 |
4 Comment(s)
If you have a flea problem, you're probably trying to solve it the best way you know how.  But fleas are tough to get rid of.  They're resilient little critters.  Here are three things many people don't know about fleas.  The more you know about them, the more likely you are to get them under control.     Fleas Can Play Dead Okay, they don't really play dead.  They don't whisper to each other, "Here she comes!" and fling themselves down on the carpet with their legs in the air.  But a wet flea can appear dead, because it's immobilized.  Many times a pet owner will use ordinary shampoo--not flea shampoo--on a pet, and afterward, the fleas seem to be dead.  Since the fleas are not moving, the owner decides plain shampoo kills fleas.       But those fleas are not really dead.  When a flea has been thoroughly soaked with water, it won't move--but once it dries out, it will spring back to life.  You can test this yourself.  Just pick a few immobilized fleas off your pet after a bath with ordinary shampoo.  Put them in a baggie and seal it shut.  Set the baggie down, and go off and do something else for a few hours.  When you come back and check, you'll probably see the fleas moving inside the bag--back from the dead.     Fleas Will Wait for You Sometimes, people think they can solve a flea problem by removing pets from a flea-infested house for a while.  Maybe you are leaving your summer home to go back to the city, or you have a vacation house that you won't return to for months.  You assume the fleas will starve to death.     It doesn't work that way.  Fleas come in different stages of growth:  egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  Some immature fleas can lie dormant for a year or more and can survive winter temperatures.  They don't hatch until they sense vibrations--like vacuuming, or people and pets walking around--or carbon dioxide given off by a passing animal.  So when you return to your summer house, even after months away, the fleas hatch out and attack.     Those Brown Specks Are Not Flea Eggs A severely flea-infested pet will be covered with little reddish-brown specks.  Many people assume these specks are flea eggs, but they aren't.  Flea eggs are white and look like salt.  The reddish-brown specks are flea feces, also known as flea dirt.  If your pet and his bed look like they've been sprinkled with salt and pepper, you're seeing flea eggs and flea dirt.     Because fleas eat blood, their feces are basically just dried blood.  If you get the pet wet, you can tell if your pet is covered with flea dirt or is just plain dirty.  Regular dirt makes bathwater brown; flea dirt dissolves in water and makes bathwater red.  A pet owner who washes a pet covered in flea dirt sometimes thinks the red water means Patches or Butch is bleeding from flea bites.  Actually, the red color of the water is the result of dissolved flea dirt.  It's good to know what's really going on if you find yourself startled by red rinse water.     So, there you have it:  three things you might not have known about fleas.  When it comes to fleas, understanding them can make all the difference in beating them.  

Airlines: Safely Transporting Your Pet

 by wai on 28 Oct 2013 |
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Moving is always a pain. If you’re traveling vast distances, it’s a full on headache. You’ve got to have all of your stuff shipped, and pray that it all arrives undamaged. Luckily, there are reputable moving services and insurance for those that can afford it. But what about cargo that’s irreplaceable? What about your dog that’s too big to fit on the flight with you? You can treat your dog as a checked bag, but you’re taking a risk. Since airlines have begun reporting the numbers in 2005 there hasn’t been a single airline that offers pet transportation in the cargo hold with a spotless record. In fact, from 2005 to 2012 there were 330 reports of missing, injured, or dead canines. Though this is a small number relative to the amount of pets that were actually shipped, (an amount that is unfortunately not reported) it’s not exactly an encouraging statistic. If at all possible, you should avoid shipping your pet via airline. There simply are no guarantees, especially with commercial flights. Though major airlines claim that pets are kept in climate controlled, pressurized, and “pet friendly” cargo area, the fact that there have been 38 cases of pets being lost while en route makes one doubt whether they are being treated as living creatures rather than glorified luggage. So you must be wondering, if major commercial airlines can’t be trusted, then who can? There are a few specialty services that offer pet relocation. These niche companies understand that people worry about their pets in stressful traveling situations, and as a result uphold rigorous standards in their caregiving. Companies like Pet Airways cater exclusively to pets, and have dedicated staff monitoring them throughout the flight. So there actually are no human passengers on the flights with the pets. This added level of safety and security makes a specific company like Pet airways your best pet shipping option. Other pet specific airlines include names like: Pet Relocation, Air Animal, and 4 Paws on Wheels. Before trusting your pet with any relocation service, it’s important to thoroughly vet the company and exhaustively research your options. So do your homework before making a final choice. Keep in mind again that it’s much better to avoid having your pet fly in the first place. Unless it is small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of you on the same flight, then you’d be much better served having the animal transported on the ground. Unfortunately, that’s not always an option when you’re traveling over water. So if you must ship your pet, be sure to prepare as much as possible. Underfeed the pet before boarding, this is to limit the possibilities of a distressed stomach and in-air accidents. Do not sedate your animal, this can have very negative health effects at high altitudes. And be sure to have your pet examined by a veterinarian before takeoff. If you can follow these and any other guidelines given to you by the company you employ, you maximize the chances for a positive traveling experience for you and your pet.  

Emotional Support Animals

 by wai on 19 Oct 2013 |
2 Comment(s)
This might be news to you, but apparently there are some laws on the books that say any animal with a vest on is legally classified as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), and these are legally obliged to accompany their owners anywhere they may wish to go. Furthermore, no one is actually allowed to significantly question the companion animal’s owner due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. As you might imagine, this has caused a bit of a stink, and not just from a wet dog coming out of the rain. There are two major problems with this law as it stands. One, is the ambiguous nature of the law’s wording. Because of this ambiguity, business owners are only allowed to ask 2 questions about the animal: “Is this a service animal?” and “What is it trained to do?” However, the animal owner is not obliged to offer any proof along with their answers. The real kicker? The business owner risks legal action if they don’t unquestionably accept the “service” animal. That’s the real problem with an ESA, they don’t need any special training to offer you emotional support, it could be a brand new kitten from the store. If you’re a business owner looking to avoid a lawsuit, you’ve simply got to take the owner’s word for it.  The second problem with the law is it’s, (predictably) been abused on a massive scale. People can take snakes, spider, miniature horses, dogs, cats, and what have you into a public place and claim that these animals offer them emotional support for an undefined mental disorder, which given the insanity of bringing a Boa Constrictor into a burger king, may actually be true in some cases. However with no burden of proof, and in fact no regulating body whatsoever, the door is open for widespread abuse. Unfortunately, because of the lack of regulation and outright foolishness of these cases, it’s making life more difficult for people with legitimate service animal needs. People with severe agoraphobia, for example, encounter massive stress and panic attacks upon leaving their domiciles. Studies have shown that emotional support animals, particularly well trained canines, can have a calming effect on their owners in many cases, allowing them to function normally despite their mental illness. So basically a few bad apples are ruining a good thing for people with legitimate illnesses. Having an animal in toe might mean that you’re not allowed into an area that serves or sells food, but that’s for very good reason. Public health and safety standards seemingly demand that the food we eat should be separated from our furry friends based on several fairly obvious factors: Animals do not really care where or when they use the restroom, especially if untrained Animals will step indiscriminately in their own fecal matter or urine Animals can carry parasites, bugs, and all sorts of creepy crawly nonsense. Many animals stink, and it’s not fun to eat chicken parmesan next to them. You’d think a lot of this is common sense but jerks will be jerks. Thus increasing the need of human beings to seek emotional support from animals, and renewing the never ending cycle of stupid behavior and unnecessary problems.    

Pet Behavioral Medication: Pros and Cons

 by zack on 11 Oct 2013 |
1 Comment(s)
So today I felt like touching on a subject with a little bit of controversy attached to it. Full disclosure: this is a touchy subject that infringes upon the borders of psychological health for both humans and animals. Regardless of your opinions on these subjects, to move forward with a productive discourse we all have to admit to ourselves that chemical treatments affecting brain chemistry are an entirely new matter. The science itself is less than a hundred years old, with results being recorded responsibly for only a fraction of that time. So that said, let’s try to look objectively at how behavioral medications can help or hurt our animal friends.   Types of Medicine:   There are generally five different categories of pet behavioral modifiers. Benzodizaepines (BZs) Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s) Tricylic Antidepressents (TCA’s) Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) 5 hydroxytryptamine  (5-HT) agonists If these names sound familiar, that’s because many of the same treatments are used on human beings with anxiety problems or mental imbalances as well. Pros: For starters, it’s important to note that these medications certainly can help an animal in pain. Anxiety, fear, and the like have been shown to occur in the prefrontal cortex of an animal’s brain. This is the same region that controls sensations of pain. In other words, anxiety or fear cause real physical discomfort in an animal. The medicines we’re talking about can absolutely decrease, if not completely eliminate the pain that an animal feels due to stress. These medications can be used to decrease stress, eliminate compulsive behaviors, reduce fear of people and noises, and even aid in comprehension and learning.   Furthermore, using these medications will allow for easier applications of behavior modification techniques. Having a stress free dog or cat enables you to more easily train them for or against desired or unwanted behaviors, respectively. So just like your eccentric aunt Delilah needs her meds to “even her out” and make her an acceptable dinner guest, these medications can suppress the symptoms of anxiety and stress in your animal companions and have very beneficial effects on their obedience. Cons: To borrow a quote from self-help guru, Tim Ferris, “There is no biological free lunch.” This means that every positive effect imposed by a medication must come in conjunction with unwanted side effects. Some of these can be inconvenient, while others are downright dangerous. BZ’s in particular have some things you need to watch out for. BZ’s act on an animal’s brain chemistry much like alcohol would on a human being. That mean’s reckless and uninhibited behavior, memory reduction, restlessness, slowed reaction time, and it can actually increase anxiety. TCA’s can cause diarrhea, dryness of mouth, constipation, and fluctuations in heart rate. MAOI’s are fairly mild in side effects, but have been shown to cause dangerous health effects when mixed with cheese. SSRI’s can be bad for pet’s organ health and can actually make animal behavior worse in certain cases. By far the biggest problem with these medications occurs when they are used as a cure all for the underlying problems a pet is going through. Since these meds suppress symptoms, some owners take that as a cue to continue medicating indefinitely. All stress/anxiety/aggression medications should be seen as a temporary effort to compliment the behavioral modification training that an owner should look to apply to the pet’s specific problem. That’s all we’ve got on the subject today. Hopefully, you’ve learned some useful information that you can either spread or apply yourself. Check again soon for more topical pet information on the Pet Bucket blog.   

A Completely Subjective List of the Most Awesome Mix Breed Dogs Ever

 by zack on 05 Oct 2013 |
4 Comment(s)
So let me let you in on a little secret: most “top 3, 5, 7, 10, etc.” lists that you’ll see on the internet, are not actually judged by any ranking criteria whatsoever. The order means very little, if anything at all. Ah. It feels good to be honest. So, in honor of subjectivity, I’m going to give you my personal list of my individual favorite mixed breed dogs. These selections were made up by me, and have no bearing on anything other than my personal preferences. Though, I should say that my preferences, are in fact, awesome. And these dogs are probably the cutest/most majestic you’ll ever come across on any arbitrary list ever created. Enough of this qualifier stuff, let’s get to the adorable fluff! Puggle       Puggles are incredible. They are a combination of two dogs that are cute in their own right, the pug and the beagle, but when combined they form a swirling vortex of insane smoosh-face, floppy eared, mischievous lovability that is sure to cause your eyes tear up, and ellicit the most effeminate sounds imaginable to come spilling out of your mouth immediately upon entering a hundred foot radius of this magnificent mongrel.   I defy you to find a cuter dog than this. It’s small, it’s not too fluffy, and it has gigantic infantile eyes that seem to scream out that it needs to be held, squeezed, and loved forever. Additionally, there isn’t a word in the English vernacular that’s more fun to say than Puggle.   Breed information is irrelevant. All you need is to bask in the glorious glow of the Puggle.   Dogo Argentino Switching gears for a bit, because any list worth its salt has some sizable variety involved. The Dogo Argentino is the definition of majestic. This gigantic hunting dog is smooth, muscular, and loyal to a fault. The Dogo is bred for hunting wild game, the big kind. Like wild bores and mountain lions. That’s right. Freaking mountain lions. You know, the scary giant cats that weigh somewhere between 50 and 136 kg?   Yeah, Dogos hunt those things. So cool.   Dogos themselves reach a respectable weight of between 40 and 54 kg, and stand between 60 and 76 cm at the shoulders. They’re almost always a solid shade of pale white, and extremely muscular. The Dogo is the biggest mixed bag when it comes to genealogy, they were originally bred from the Cordoba fighting dogs along with Great Danes, Boxers, Spanish Mastiffs, Old English Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, Great Pyrenees, Pointers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Dogue de Bordeauxs.   While fierce and determined hunters, the Dogo is also a reliable guard dog and family friendly to boot. In fact, these gentle giants are really easy going when it comes to kids and other pets. I highly recommend you get one, put a saddle on it, and have your children ride it to school like a horse.   Pomski We’re back down to small dogs again. The Pomeranian/Huskie mix, or Pomski, is right up there with the Puggle in terms of aesthetic appeal and supremely cute names. These dogs can have characteristics of either huskies or poms, but usually lean one way or the other. They only get to be about a 3rd of the size of huskies, and they aren’t recognized as a new breed. There’s an effort to get them to that status, but by the looks of the net chatter, it’s kind of a dodgy effort aimed mostly at making a quick buck through selling a cute dog. So that’s sad, but again: this is my list, and despite breeder ethics and politics, Pomskis are tiny, fuzzy, and adorable.   Goberian The final entry on my list is the Goberian. An interesting mix of huskie and golden retriever. Majorly energetic and a prolific shedder, the Goberian makes a wonderful family pet. It has a sweet temperament and an extremely unique look that combines the winter fortitude and toughness of the Siberian Huskee with the goofy nobility of a Golden. That’s it for my super subjective list. I hope you enjoyed the cuteness buffet of the day. Keep checking back for more adorability and helpful pet information!    
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