National Pet Dental Month article from
March 2008 edition of St. Louie Tails:
How to have the perfect pet
(even if you don't think you have the time)
By Katie Marsico
It’s one thing to ooh and aah over your next-door neighbor’s new puppy or curl up with a kitty at your aunt’s house. But when it comes time to adopting one of your very own, thoughts like, “Do I have time for this?” “Is it expensive?” and “What if I move?” may have you reconsidering.
Luckily, there’s an ideal opportunity out there for just about anyone who has the room in her heart. Even given individual time constraints, living environments, and personal preferences, prospective guardians all have the potential to find a match made in heaven. Use this handy guide to help find the pet perfect for your lifestyle.
My wife and I are very busy people. Time will always be of the essence, but our schedules are flexible enough so that someone can almost always be home. Any suggestions?
“I would recommend older dogs or cats for guardians seeking a pet [who] doesn’t require much exercise or training,” explains Sheila Choi, president and founder of Fuzzy Dog and Cat Rescue, Inc., a nonprofit, no-kill animal-rescue group based out of Long Beach, California. “Older dogs and cats are frequently [euthanized] in shelters, so if you are able to lend a helping hand to an animal in her golden years, you would truly be saving a life.”
Choi adds that professional assistance is yet another option for those who want a pet but are worried about spending too much time outside the home. “If guardians can afford it, I would suggest adopting a pound puppy and pampering him with doggie daycare, dog walkers, and dog sitters. The dog will love it, and this way you don’t have to leave the house feeling guilty that your pooch is alone.”
I’m a high-energy kind of person and have always wanted a pet who could act as a de facto running partner and all-around playmate. What kind of pet do you suggest?
“If you love working out, I would highly recommend adopting a Labrador Retriever or a Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrier,” remarks Choi. “Pit Bulls are great exercise partners. In addition, people who have lots of time and energy are better equipped to handle this type of physically strong breed. There are so many loving, darling Bully babies patiently awaiting adoption [who] would make great companions and workout buddies.”
I would love a pet, but I’m a single person working two jobs. What can I do?
Stephanie Shain, director of outreach (companion animals) of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in Washington, D.C., urges adopters with hectic schedules to keep their hearts open to species besides dogs and cats. “Someone who works long hours during the day could be an ideal guardian for a nocturnal animal like a hamster, [who] doesn’t require outdoor walks and exercise. These little critters can absolutely form bonds with their [guardians], and there are loads of them in shelters and rescue groups [who] are in need of homes.”
I’ve always loved animals, but my allergy to cats drives me crazy, and I just don’t have enough time and energy for a dog. Do birds make good pets?
“Research, research, research,” advises Northwest Indiana Bird Association, Inc. (NWIBA) Founder Lisa Pajkos. “One of the options that the NWIBA offers is a bird-education course. We encourage people to research the breed [or species] they’re thinking about and to remember to ask themselves if this type of animal is going to fit into their lifestyle. You cannot change breed character traits. Birds won’t be able to go with you on your outdoor jog, but if you have an indoor treadmill, it’s great to put them on their play stand next to your equipment and have a workout buddy!”
I want a pet, but am in graduate school at the moment. There’s no telling where my life will take me in the next couple of years. What should I do?
“If you are desperate for a pet but aren’t sure you can make this kind of commitment, volunteering with a shelter or rescue group may be a perfect option for you,” says Shain. “Whether you walk dogs for a few hours on Saturdays or assist with cat grooming and cage cleaning every week, you can still get your ‘fur fix’ and give some deserving animals lots of love in the process.”
“Many shelters also have foster-care programs that need individuals or families who can make short-term commitments to care for pets in their homes until they can be adopted,” says Shain.
In reality, fostering can prove a pivotal gateway experience that convinces guardians that they do indeed have the necessary resources for a long-term promise of love and care. And there are, in fact, those individuals who know right from the start that they are in possession of excess time and energy that they’d like to lavish on a furry friend.
I am an apartment dweller, so I probably shouldn’t
have a dog, right?
Cats and dogs love to have plenty of wide open space in which to roam. That’s not to say that those who live in apartments or condos should save their dreams of having a pooch or pussy cat for the day when they purchase a 10-acre farm. “As long as the property owner or manager allows pets and as long as they aren’t too noisy, almost any kind of dog or cat can be a great apartment dweller,” emphasizes Shain. “The thought that only small dogs are apartment dogs is just plain wrong. The key is ensuring you have plenty of time to fulfill the mental and physical exercise needs of the individual animal you are considering adopting. A Great Dane can live comfortably and happily in an apartment so long as he or she gets enough time walking and playing outside every day.”
St. Louis Critter Sitters
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups rye flour
- 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon
- safflower oil
- 1 apple (grated)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups cold water
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except the apple and water. Grate apple into mixture and add part of the water. Turn out on a floured surface and incorporate more water if the dough is too stiff while kneading for 2 minutes or more. Roll out to a thickness of 1/4". Use a knife to score the dough vertically and then horizontally so you have squares, but don't cut right through the dough. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until golden Let cool. Break off into pieces.
REMEMBER to either refrigerate or freeze all natural treats to avoid spoilage and possible insect infestation.
Furry Forum from March 2008 edition
of St. Louie Tails:
Q. If alcohol is bad for a cat, how does medicine that uses it as an ingredient affect the cat?
—Theodora Pennock, Oak Hill, West Virginia
A. Great question! The reason why alcohol is used in liquid medicines is because it is an excellent way to completely dissolve most powdered medications into a liquid.
Liquid medication that has alcohol in it has a longer shelf life than medication that only uses water as the solvent. In large enough quantities, alcohol can cause drowsiness and even neurological problems.
But don’t be alarmed; even if your pet consumes an entire bottle of medicine, there usually isn’t enough alcohol in it to worry about toxic side effects.
To summarize, a small amount of medicine taken by a large pet won’t harm him, but a large quantity swallowed by a small pet could kill him.
—Dr. Elizabette Cohen is the WCBS 880 AM radio vet and author of Most of My Patients Wear Fur: Tales of Small Animals and Their Big City Vet.
Q. My Shih-Tzu is eating her poop, and I can’t always catch her to stop it. It is making me crazy! What can I do to change this situation?
——Sandra Miller, Indianapolis, Indiana
A. The act of eating poop is actually a very well-recognized problem; the technical term for this is coprophagia.
This is generally considered to be instinctual and somewhat normal behavior for otherwise healthy dogs. The only reliable method of stopping your Shih-Tzu from eating her poop is to clean it up immediately each time she goes.
Some of the more common remedies have been to spray the poop with bitter apple or put cayenne pepper or hot sauce on it, but without much success.
Other folks have suggested putting meat tenderizer or probiotics in the food, thinking that the poop will be less tantalizing to the taste, but that has not worked very well in my experience.
For what it’s worth, while the act of coprophagia is pretty disgusting to see, it doesn’t usually cause any significant health concerns from the dog’s end. Make sure you have your pup checked by your veterinarian, discuss his diet with the doctor, and don’t forget to bring in a stool sample to check for parasites, etc.
—Phil Padrid, DVM, Family Pet Animal Hospital, Chicago, Illinois