Pet Care Information and Links

Pet Articles

These articles will cover many different topics, and will also address seasonal concerns.
Click on the titles or scroll down the page to find information on the topics listed below:

Learn facts about West Nile virus and pets
Many common items are toxic to pets
Plan ahead for pets during travel time
Estate planning for pets
Tips to help introduce a new cat into your home

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Pet Links

Tips for finding a lost pet

Treating and preventing fleas and ticks

Pet Related Toll-Free Numbers

Mosquitoes and other pests

Information on Cushings Disease

Pet Welfare Banners for Web Sites

Help pets during hot weather

Choosing and caring for mature pets

Protect pets during cold weather

Dental care needed for healthy pets

A wealth of dog info from rec.pets.dogs.

A wealth of cat info from rec.pets.cats.

Cornell Feline Health Center

Rabbit Care Guide

Guinea Pig Care Guide

Dog Health Issues

Pawprints and Purrs

Orphaned Kitten Care

Pets with Diabetes Home Page

Advice on keeping pets indoors

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Think About Estate Planning for Pets

 I have two cats, Oscar and Bailey, whom I love very much. When I die who will take care of them? I assume my Mom would, but what if my Mom isn't alive or is unable to care for them? I think somebody would take them - but how can I assure that they will be well cared for? Herein lies the problem when the pet owner dies without having made plans for their beloved little friends. It is quite possible for the pet to become homeless or forgotten. In either instance, the premature death of the animal is possible. For most pet lovers, like myself, this is not an acceptable outcome.

As an estate planning attorney, I find that most of my clients are concerned about passing wealth on to their children with as little tax consequence as possible, or are concerned about who will take care of their children should the parents die before the children are grown. A growing area of the law, and a topic I always mention to my estate planning clients, is who will take care of your pets upon your incapacity or death?

There are actually three times where problems develop. The first is if the pet owner is hospitalized due to a traumatic injury or severe illness. In some instances the pet owner is unconscious, which can greatly confuse the situation.

The second time a problem can develop is when a person dies without a provision in his or her will providing for pets. The question is who will take care of the pet, and with what money?

The third instance in which problems can develop in caring for pets is when a person dies with a will which provides for his pets, but there are no instructions to take care of the pet before the will is admitted to probate. This time period between death and a will being admitted to probate is one in which the personal representative of the estate can do nothing without court direction.

 The first step in the planning process is to find friends or relatives who are willing to care for your pets, and provide them with a good home. You then need to find a qualified estate planning lawyer. You need a lawyer to draft, at a minimum, a durable power of attorney and a will. Both documents should clearly state who you desire to care for your pets if you become unable to do so yourself. Additionally, you should name some alternate caretakers in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to adopt your pets when the need arises. You may also choose to leave some money to the caretaker with the intention that it be used to provide for the pet.

Contrary to what we see in the movies, most states do not allow a person to leave money directly to their pets. Some states allow you to set up an "Honorary Trust" for your pet. An Honorary Trust is one through which you select a trustee who has the responsibility of caring for your pet with the money left to the trust. These are allowed to operate for a maximum of 21 years, which is long enough to care for most household pets.

In 1991, California established Probate Code Section 15212, which gives a pet owner the ability to set up trusts which can last for the lifetime of the pet. This is an important change over prior laws, particularly for people with animals who are likely to live a long time.

It is important not to leave all your money to your pet however, as relatives are more likely to contest the will or trust if they think you left too much to an animal. To avoid this problem, leave enough for reasonable comfort and care of your pets, but not more than that.

In some instances, particularly with the elderly or people with a house full of animals, it can be difficult to find a caretaker. In these instances you may consider looking for a charitable organization that can provide for your animals. There are many organizations which do not euthanize their animals, particularly if a contribution is made to the organization through your will or trust! Additionally, you should do your homework on the facility to make sure they care for animals in a manner you would be happy with; for example, you likely wouldn't want to leave your pet to a facility that cages up its animals for hours at a time.

There are pet owners who would prefer to have their animal euthanized at the owner's death if there is no friend or relative available to provide a good home for the pet. This is an area of the law I choose not to discuss, as I do not encourage euthanizing a healthy animal - I feel there is always a better option.

Above all else make sure your attorney knows what provisions to put into your estate planning documents in regards to your pets. There are many attorneys with thirty years experience who have never provided in a will for a pet, so make sure your attorney knows what they are doing so that your Oscar and Bailey will be protected!

Written by John B. Palley, an Estate Planning attorney in Sacramento, and an attorney member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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Learn the Facts About West Nile Virus

So how much do you know about the West Nile virus? How can it affect your pets? How much I feel certain I know can be summed up in two words: very little. To remedy this, I did some research, and found a lot of facts, but not all the answers.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, most infections of West Nile virus have been identified in wild birds, but the virus can also infect humans, horses, dogs, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic rabbits and domestic birds.

You probably know that mosquitoes transmit the virus. The trouble begins when the virus multiplies and crosses the blood-brain barrier. Fortunately, the AVMA reports that the virus is not transmitted directly from person to person, animal to person, person to animal or animal to animal.

The Centers for Disease Control report that in Asia and Africa, West Nile virus has also been found in ticks, but fortunately, ticks haven't been shown to transmit the disease. Even though the CDC states there is no evidence that a person can get the virus from simply touching an infected human or animal, you should use gloves or plastic bags if you handle sick or dead animals.

I wondered about the likelihood of cats and dogs catching it, especially if they are outdoor pets. According to the CDC, the virus has been found only once in a dog -- in Botswana in 1982. However, the West Nile virus was identified in several dead cats in the United States in 1999 and 2000. Like humans, dogs and cats contract the virus via mosquito bites and cannot transmit it directly to either animals or humans. They do not necessarily die from the virus, and there is no reason to euthanize a dog or cat who contracts it.

The Mississippi State Department of Health echoes this advice on their website, explaining that most animals other than birds will not become ill or die when they are infected with the virus, and infected animals do not need to be destroyed.

So what are the signs and symptoms of the virus infection for animals? The most common sign for horses is weakness, usually in the hindquarters. The horse may have a widened stance, stumble and lean to one side. In extreme cases, paralysis may follow. Fever is sometimes evident, along with depression and fearfulness, according to the AVMA.

For other animals, the signs are a little more difficult to spot. Wild birds infected with West Nile virus in the United States are most often found dead, so it is a little late to check for symptoms. The AVMA reports that clinical signs associated with the virus infection in dogs, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic rabbits and domestic birds, "have not been well described." So, those are the facts, but not really the answers.

The Humane Society of the United States explains that while a vaccine is available, it has been conditionally licensed for horses -- there is none yet for humans or companion animals. The most effective way to protect yourself, your pets and your livestock from the West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. The CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer some tips:

    * Get rid of standing water around your house -- mosquitoes might breed there.
    * Dispose of any unused outside water containers and drill holes in the bottom of containers that are left outdoors.
    * Turn over plastic wading pools or wheelbarrows when not in use, and do not allow water to stagnate in birdbaths.
    * Clean clogged roof gutters regularly.
    * Ventilate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
    * Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not in use.
    * Clean livestock's troughs thoroughly every month.
    * Don't rely on ultrasonic mosquito-repelling machines or vitamin B to ward off bites.

Visit the AVMA's site, at or the HSUS's site, at for more information about the virus.

Pets Column, written by Bethany Waldrop Keiper

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Plan ahead for pets during travel time

 Examine many options when deciding whether or not to take a pet on a trip.

"Boarding a pet or hiring a pet sitter are two options I recommend if the pet is left behind," said Dr. Richard Hopper, veterinarian with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University. "Taking a pet along can mean extra work at a time when most people want to be relaxing, but on the other hand will also assure the owners that the pet is safe and healthy."

Hopper recommended these tips if the pet goes on a trip with its owner:

  • Call hotels, motels, homes or parks ahead to be sure the pet will be welcome;

  • Be sure the pet has all required vaccinations and a current health certificate;

  • Take along the pet's regular food, any special medications, a supply of water and bedding;

  • Be sure the pet has a collar with an identification tag with the owner's name and telephone number;

  • Keep the pet in a cage or on a leash at all times;

  • Consult a veterinarian if the pet is suspected for car-sickness or might experience anxiety when traveling.

Source: MSU's CVM
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Many common items can be toxic to pets

Keeping your pet safe from poisonous insects, animals, plants and other environmental and home hazards requires a mix of education, common sense, and planning ahead.

The first step is to "pet proof" the house and yard, just like you might for a toddler; pets are often just as clever at getting into things they shouldn't. Make sure that all chemicals, medications, food, "toys" that aren't, and garbage are out of reach of your pet. Dogs are notorious  for eating things that smell good or look like toys but aren't. Every year we remove countless nylons, peach pitts, corn cobs, coins, diapers, super balls, and many other items from the stomachs and intestines of dogs. For cats the worst culprit seems to be strings and other similar  materials, which get caught under the tongue despite being swallowed and cause the intestine to scrunch into a little ball trying to move the string through the intestinal tract.

Ethylene glycol (found in antifreeze) is a particulary dangerous  household poison. It tastes sweet and ingestion of even a very small amount can cause acute kidney failure and death in dogs and cats. You can visit the Pet Health Initiative site for additional information on  antifreeze poisoning. There is an antidote for ethylene glycol toxicity (dogs only) but to be maximally effective it must be given within a few  hours of ingestion. You can read more about Antizole, an antidote for ethylene glycol toxicity courtesy of the drug's manufacturer. Unfortunately, for those dogs already in kidney failure, the antidote is  ineffective; and a prolonged hospital stay will be required for recovery.

There are two main types of rodenticides that are toxic to animals. Anti-coagulant rodenticides are more common. They interfere with the activation of several factors in the clotting system and the poisoned animal can bleed to death. Good information on anticoagulant rodenticide intoxication is available at the Cornell University Veterinary School site. The other type of rat and mouse poisons that cause toxicities in dogs and cats are vitamin D rodenticides. Large quantities of vitamin D cause massive increases in the blood calcium and kidney failure.

A number of outdoor plants and house plants are toxic to animals. Many plants are just gastrointestinal irritants and cause vomiting. Others are far more dangerous. One example is the Easter Lily, which can cause severe and often fatal kidney failure.

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs intended for humans should not be used in dogs or cats except upon the advice of that pet's veterinarian. Some drugs that humans use routinely are highly toxic in pets. One example is acetominophen (Tylenol), which is highly toxic in cats. The drug damages feline hemoglobin rendering it incapable of carrying oxygen.

 Inappropriate use of flea and tick products was once a relatively common cause of toxicity in dogs and cats. With the advent on newer generation products (eg. Advantage, Frontline, Program) organophosphates and other insecticides are used less commonly.  Information on toxicities assoicated with flea products in cats is
available from CFA.

The last step in "pet proofing" your house is to ensure that you have the telephone numbers for your veterinarian, emergency clinic, and  local poison control center readily available. There is a list of Poison Control Centers available on the Web. The ASPCA's National Animal Poison Control Center also has a web site that includes their 800  number for emergency cases.

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Tips to Introduce a New Cat into Your Home

Cat-to-Cat Introductions

1. Cats that grew up around other cats usually adjust more easily to a new feline housemate. Confine the first pet to one part of the house while the new pet explores the rest. Then switch their territories. This allows each to become familiar with the other's presence and allows the newcomer to locate places to hide if conflict occurs.

2. After a few days, place the new cat in a carrier and let the original cat discover the newcomer on its own. Note how they react to one another. When you decide to let both have freedom in the entire house, maintain two litterboxes and feeding areas to prevent one from guarding these resources from the other.

3. Spend ample time with your original pet alone so that it does not become jealous of the new pet.

4. Let the pets set their own pace and ease into a relationship. Do not force them together. They may take two or three months to come to an understanding. If things aren't progressing as you'd like, consult your veterinarian.

Cat-to-Dog Introductions

1.Cats that as kittens had positive experiences with dogs will usually adjust more easily to a canine housemate.

2. Confine the first pet to one part of the house while the new pet explores the rest. Then switch their territories. This allows each to become familiar with the other's presence and allows the new pet to locate places to hide when conflicts occur.

3. Put a leash on your dog. If he attempts to chase or bark at the cat, give the leash a quick jerk and tell him "NO" firmly. Praise your dog when he behaves calmly around your cat. The cat will soon learn that if she doesn't run, the dog won't be ins pired to chase her, and your dog will understand that harassing the cat is not allowed.

4. Ensure the cat always has access to hiding places the dog is not able to reach. It is wise to confine them separately at first when you are unable to supervise.

5. Spend ample time with your original pet to minimize jealousy of the newcomer.

6. Let the two pets set their own pace and ease into the relationship. Do not force them together. They may take two or three months to come to an understanding. If things aren't progressing as you'd like, consult your veterinarian.

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*Important Notice*

        The pet health articles and links are for informational purposes only. They are not a means of diagnosing or treating a pet health problem.  A visit to the pet health articles and links is not meant to be a substitute for a visit to a trained animal health care professional, so please make sure your pet has regular check-ups and consult your veterinarian for medical questions. All articles and clip art are the property of the respective copyright holders and are here for "fair use" and informational purposes on this non-profit site. *Whew*! Thanks for visiting our page! To go back to where you were, click here.

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