Thursday, February 19, 2015

The 10 Most Searched Questions About Dogs

From DVM 360 Magazine

The 10 most-searched questions about dogs
We know you’ve “Googled” when it comes to your pet. In fact, Google released the 10 most-searched questions pet owners asked about their dogs last year. So, instead of leaving the answers to a Google algorithm, here are some veterinary experts to answer your queries so you can get to the bottom of questions like, “Why are dogs’ noses wet?” Google is a great tool, but if you ever have a question regarding your pet, never hesitate to contact us. We’re here to answer the serious to merely curious questions—we’re happy to do it! In the meantime, see how Drs. John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB, and Ernie Ward, DVM, answer your most pressing questions about Fido.

1. Why do dogs eat grass? 
Most veterinarians agree grass eating seems to be a way for dogs to relieve gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, parasites or possibly infections. Another theory is that dogs are craving micronutrients found in leafy plants. Finally, dogs may eat grass simply because they like it. —Dr. Ward

2. Do dogs dream?
We’ve discovered that dogs and humans share many similar characteristics when sleeping and possibly dreaming. For most dogs, dreaming should occur about 20 minutes after they begin to doze. You’ll notice shallow, irregular breathing followed by muscle twitching and eye movements behind closed eyelids. The real question is what do dogs dream about? —Dr. Ward

3. Why do dogs howl? 
Howling is a non-specific behavior. Howling can occur when a dog is distressed, feeling territorial, stressed in a situation that they cannot get out of, or responding to persistent noises such as the sound of a siren. Finally, I imagine it is a fun activity for some dogs—kind of like singing in the shower. —Dr. Ciribassi

Wolves primarily howl to alert an enemy pack they’re ready to rumble or guide a lost member home. Dogs howling when you leave may be an attempt to get you to return. Howling at other dogs may signal, “Get lost!” or “I’m over here!” —Dr. Ward

4. Why do dogs have whiskers? 
Whiskers function as sensory organs. Touch, air currents and vibrations can stimulate the whiskers. They also can function as communication in that dogs that are emotionally aroused can move their whiskers forward or backward to signal to another dog either fear or confidence during encounters. —Dr. Ciribassi

Most dogs have these long, stiff hairs projecting from their jaw, muzzle and above their eyes. Whiskers are highly sensitive and help inform the dog about surrounding objects, air movements and more. You can also tell a dog is nervous or scared if the whiskers are pointing forward at a potential threat. Whatever you do, don’t trim or pluck whiskers because they serve an important information source for dogs. —Dr. Ward

5. Why do dogs chase their tails? 
Other than for grooming or injury reasons, it is abnormal for dogs to consistently chase their tails. It can occur as an attention-getting activity or can escalate to a compulsive behavior that interferes with normal activities. Compulsive behaviors are similar to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in people and one theory is that it results in an increase in endorphins in the brain thus acting to reinforce pleasure for the behavior. —Dr. Ciribassi

6. How do you clean dogs’ ears? 
Cleaning ears regularly can help minimize infection since dry, clean ears are less likely to become infected. Place a small amount of a quality cleaning agent in the ear and massage the base of the ear. Allow your pet to shake its head then wipe out the discharge using cotton or tissue on your finger. Do not place anything into the ear unless directed by your veterinarian. I recommend cleaning a normal ear (not complicated by allergies or infections) about one to two times per week or after baths. —Dr. Ciribassi

Start by gently cleaning the outer ear with a clean cotton ball and veterinary-approved ear cleaning solution. Be sure to remove any debris and dead skin from crevices and folds. Using a clean cotton ball, push as far into the ear canal as you can comfortably reach with your small finger. Be sure not to stuff the cotton ball so deep you can’t retrieve it. Remove the cotton ball and repeat until there is no more dirt or debris observed. —Dr. Ward

7. Why Are Dog Noses Wet?
Dogs’ noses act as sweat glands and can become wet as a means of discharging heat. In addition, nasal cavity discharge will accumulate on the nose. Clear discharge can occur with temperature changes and also with some allergies. Discolored discharges usually indicate possible infection, neoplasia, foreign body or bleeding disorder in the nasal cavity and should be evaluated as soon as possible. —Dr. Ciribassi

Wet noses increase a dog’s ability to smell. Scientists believe the thin layer of mucous on a “wet nose” helps trap scent chemicals that are then licked off and processed by a dog’s special olfactory (smelling) glands located in the roof of its mouth. Wet noses are also the result of specialized sweat glands. Dogs can only perspire from the pads of their feet and noses. —Dr. Ward

8. How do you stop dogs from digging?
Dogs dig because it is fun or for exploration. This is a normal behavior, but will escalate if unmanaged. Don’t allow dogs in areas unsupervised where they have dug before, block off problem areas, be in the yard to prevent digging and engage your dog with activities. You can provide a digging box or area with sand or dirt that your dog can easily dig in. You can encourage its use by burying favorite toys (first shallow then more deeply) in the box. —Dr. Ciribassi

9. How do you introduce dogs to … (babies, cats, etc.)?
The first rule of introducing dogs to babies or new pets is supervision. Next, take it slow. Keep the parties separated and allow them to see, hear and smell the visitor. Back off at any sign of anxiety, fear or threats. If a new baby is at the hospital, try bringing home a blanket with the newborn’s smell for your pet. Make sure to keep food and prized possessions away during introduction. Once everyone is acclimated to each other, carefully allow direct contact. After a short period, take a break and start over in five to 15 minutes. Regardless of how long you’ve had your pet or how nice it is, never allow unsupervised interaction between an animal and baby. —Dr. Ward

10. Why do dogs bury bones?
Animals frequently create food caches (hiding spots for valuables they can later access when safe or normal food supplies are no longer available). Even though you may supply all the food your dog may want, it is difficult to break a natural, instinctual behavior. —Dr. Ciribassi

When dogs bury bones, they’re making an instinctual deposit to protect a future meal or prized possession. Thousands of years ago, scavenging dogs weren’t certain where or when their next meal would be. If they scored a big find, they’d hide leftovers for leaner times. Burying food kept it dark and cool, an early version of refrigeration. —Dr. Ward
Dr. John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB, founded the animal behavior specialty practice Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants with locations in Buffalo Grove, Bensenville and Chicago, Illinois. Ciribassi is a board certified veterinary behaviorist.

Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, a veterinarian, author, speaker and media personality, has dedicated his life and career to promoting a healthier lifestyle for people and pets.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Prevention Better Than Cure for Leptospirosis

 Prevention better than cure for canine leptospirosis

By Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM


Leptospirosis can be an expensive disease to treat with a moderately high mortality rate, yet it is often not included in the differential diagnosis when veterinarians are presented with a dog with sudden onset of fever, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, or respiratory distress.

These clinical signs are not pathognomonic and suggest many more common conditions, such as gastrointestinal upset due to other bacterial infections, parasites, dietary changes, and toxins. Therefore, leptospirosis is often underdiagnosed. By the time some veterinarians decide to do a diagnostic test for leptospirosis, the clinical course may have already progressed to hepatic or renal failure, and it may be too late for effective antibiotic therapy.

"This is really unfortunate," says Larry Glickman, VMD, MPH, DrPH, "because leptospirosis can often be treated successfully with a tetracycline or a penicillinase antibiotic and supportive care in its early stages."

“The earlier the infected dog is treated with antibiotics, the more likely it is to survive,” adds Dr. Glickman, adjunct professor in the department of epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chief scientist at One Epi in Pittsboro, NC.

Even more important, leptospirosis can be prevented with yearly administration of a canine Leptospira vaccine (bacterin). LeptoVax® by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., protects against the 4 most common Leptospira serovars that cause canine disease.

Zoonotic potential

Leptospira, a bacterial spirochete that is prevalent in animals worldwide, is the causative organism of leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease. Worldwide, about 300,000 to 500,000 severe human cases are recognized yearly, and the disease may be fatal in about 5% to 30% of human cases, according to Pedro Paulo Diniz, DVM, PhD, assistant professor in small animal internal medicine at Western University of Health Sciences in California.

Numerous Leptospira serovars have been isolated from companion animals (dogs, horses) and livestock (cattle, swine), and a wide variety of wild mammals, including mice, rats, moles, raccoons, opossum, deer, and skunks. Even marine animals, such as sea lions, have been found to be infected with Leptospira spp.

“In the United States, one of the biggest threats to dogs in terms of carriers of Leptospira is the raccoon,” Dr. Glickman says. “A very large percentage of raccoons may shed Leptospira in their urine despite appearing healthy. Such animals are often referred to as natural reservoirs of Leptospira infection. Rats are also an important carrier of Leptospira, particularly in more urban areas.”

The infection is typically transmitted when contaminated urine of a reservoir or clinically ill animal contaminates the environment, particularly water or wet soil. Canine infection can occur when a dog comes into contact with contaminated grass or soil or drinks from a puddle, pond, or other body of water.

People similarly can be infected by contact with a contaminated environment because the organism can enter the bloodstream through a break in the skin or can penetrate through mucous membranes. Cleaning up the urine of an infected dog, handling an infected pet, gardening, or swimming in a contaminated lake or pond can put a person at risk of infection. In one famous incident, more than 100 athletes participating in a triathlon became infected by swimming in a contaminated lake, according to Dr. Glickman.

Rainfall and flooding elevate the risk of Leptospira transmission, and the organism can persist in water and in wet environments for many months.

Some occupations, such as veterinarians and veterinary hospital employees, increase a person’s risk of leptospirosis. In a recent example, a small animal veterinarian in Washington state developed a high fever, pneumonitis, renal failure, and septic shock after a pet rat urinated on his ungloved hands, according to Dr. Diniz. “Twelve days of intensive care were required to save his life, and it took 2 months for him to recover and return to work,” he says.

Dogs are considered maintenance hosts for the L. canicola serovar and incidental hosts for other serovars. Dogs living in rural and suburban areas near agricultural land, bodies of water, and wetlands, as well as wooded areas, are at particular risk of disease. However, urban dogs are not without risk. According to a 2011 study in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, dogs living in urban areas are also at risk of infection. Even the pampered pooch living in an urban high rise can encounter an infected mouse or contaminated puddle on the street.

“It is a challenge for veterinarians to diagnose a dog with leptospirosis,” Dr. Diniz says. “Leptospirosis is not the first illness that comes to mind for most dogs with signs of refusal to eat, weight loss, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, stiffness, muscle pain, dyspnea, and weakness. To make it even more challenging, animals do not necessarily present with all of these signs at the same time. Some dogs present with increased drinking and urination due to kidney failure. Others may develop jaundice due to the liver failure.

“All of these signs can be associated with a large list of diseases,” Dr. Diniz adds.

Leptospira infection must be in the differential, because the veterinarian must request the laboratory to test the blood sample for it. The gold standard of diagnosis depends on the microscopic agglutination test (MAT), which detects IgM antibodies that typically appear about 6 to 12 days after infection, and some IgG antibodies, which appear much later, about 3 to 4 weeks after infection. Initial titers of 800 or higher suggest infection, which is confirmed if a 4-fold increase in titers is detected from the convalescent sample, according to Dr. Diniz. However, the magnitude of the titer does not correlate with disease severity.

PCR is a sensitive and specific test for Leptospira and can produce results in as little as 2 days post infection. However, a negative PCR does not rule out infection.

The MAT accurately determines the serovar in fewer than 50% of cases and PCR assays are unable to differentiate serovars; therefore Leptospira culture remains the most reliable technique to determine the serovar. However, knowing the serovar does not affect the therapeutic management of most canine patients, Dr. Diniz adds, because all serovars are sensitive to tetracycline or a penicillinase antibiotic.


To prevent the spread of the disease from an infected pet to family members, owners of a dog with leptospirosis should always be told to contact their physician for advice. In the meantime, they should be informed by the veterinarian of the zoonotic potential and advised to wear gloves when cleaning up after their dog. It would also be a good idea to leash walk the animal and to wash its bedding using bleach.

Despite a veterinarian’s best efforts, up to 20% of dogs that develop leptospirosis will die from this disease, according to Dr. Glickman. Therefore, both veterinarians recommend yearly vaccination as the best way to protect a beloved pet and its family. Puppies should receive 2 immunizations initially and then a yearly booster. The available vaccines are efficacious and have proven safe in clinical trials. They protect against the 4 most common serovars that cause leptospirosis in dogs.

“We know that vaccination for leptospirosis is protective when administered as directed,” Dr. Glickman explains.

“I recommend vaccinating for leptospirosis because the consequences of the disease in an unvaccinated dog are far more severe and life-threatening than the low risk of adverse reactions associated with vaccination,” Dr. Diniz adds.


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease and the number of dogs diagnosed is increasing. About 20% of canine cases can be fatal despite aggressive treatment. Therefore, it is good medicine, to vaccinate all dogs, since it is nearly impossible to identify any who are not at risk of becoming infected given the widespread nature of the organism in reservoir animal hosts in both urban and rural areas.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dr. Sakas is Back on National Radio!

Dr. Sakas will be back on the radio again.

Dr. Sakas will be on the nationally broadcast radio show, "On Call" hosted by Wendy Wiese, on Relevant Radio, Tuesday, January 20th from 1-2 PM CST. It can be heard on 950 AM, 930 AM, 1270 AM or accessed through your computer at and listened to online. It is a call in show and Dr. Sakas had been a regular guest on the show in the past. Their phone number for call ins is 1-877-766-3777.

Future dates are being set up....all between 1-2 CST. We will keep providing updates.

If you cannot listen to it live, go to the "On Call" portion of the Relevant Radio website at, where you can hear an archived version of this show. (Typically it is posted a day or two after the broadcast and then kept up for a few months).

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Petco Pulls Chinese Treats Amid Fears They Sickened Pets

Petco Pulls Chinese Treats Amid Fears They Sickened Pets

Posted: Updated: 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Petco said Monday it has removed all remaining Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its website and stores nationwide because of concerns they have sickened thousands of pets and killed 1,000 dogs in the U.S. since 2007.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says initial tests have not connected the Chinese jerky and rawhide treats to the illnesses, but the San Diego-based company and its rival PetSmart vowed in May to ban the snacks.
Petco is the first national pet retailer to pull the treats from its 1,300 stores. Phoenix-based PetSmart Inc. said Monday that it plans to have them off shelves at its roughly 1,300 stores by March.
The FDA targeted the treats after receiving more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses, including the deaths, after pets ate chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats from China. Tests have not confirmed any connection, but the agency is still investigating.
An FDA spokeswoman on Monday pointed to a news release from May about its investigation and declined further comment.
Petco Vice President John Sturm said all treats are now made in the U.S. or places such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and South America. The company risked tens of millions of dollars by changing treat vendors, he said.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Pet Might Improve Your Health

Getting a dog? A pet might improve your health.

By Christie Aschwanden December 15

With final exams bearing down on them this month, nearly 1,000 students at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond turned out for “Paws for Stress” — a chance to pet and play with therapy dogs.

Pets were once considered a leisure interest, one best kept at home. But there’s a growing recognition that in addition to companionship, animals may offer humans a tangible health boost. VCU is just one of many colleges making therapy dogs available to students to help them cope with the stresses of finals, says Sandra Barker, a researcher at the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at VCU’s medical school and an organizer of the event.

Humans have a long history of keeping creature companions, and if you ask most animal lovers if their beloved pet makes their life better, they’ll say yes. But can a pet improve our health? That’s a question that researchers are beginning to investigate. The field is still in its late infancy, says Barker, and the evidence remains mixed. At the moment, some of the best evidence for the benefits of pet interactions comes in the mental health arena, she says.

When fingers meet fur, people tend to relax and feel less stressed, says Steven Feldman, executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation, a group funded by the pet product industry. One recent review of 69 studies found evidence that human-animal interactions could lift mood and reduce stress and anxiety, perhaps by activating the hormone oxytocin.

Though it’s not clear how strong or long-lasting the effects are, students who attend Paws for Stress events generally report at least a temporary drop in stress levels, Barker says. For instance, upon arriving at this month’s event, one student told Barker that she had a headache from the stress of studying. After five minutes petting and playing with one of the dogs, Barker says, the student looked up and told her, “My headache’s gone.”

Numerous programs use service dogs to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Although having a canine companion around seems to raise a person’s mood, there’s not enough research yet to clarify to what extent such animal interactions might help ease PTSD symptoms, according to the National Center for PTSD, which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Depression is another common target for animal therapy. A small randomized, controlled trial whose results were published in 2005 found that therapy providing interaction with dolphins reduced symptoms of depression. Similarly, a 2007 meta-analysis published in Britain concluded that therapy animals can help ease depression, but it cautioned that more and better designed studies are needed to clarify the effects. Indeed, not every study has found a benefit. A 2006 study found no significant decrease in depression among residents of another long-term-care facility who had weekly visits with a therapy dog.

The benefits of animal-human interactions may extend to physical health, too. In May of 2013, the American Heart Association released a statement concluding that pet ownership is “probably associated with decreased cardiovascular disease risk.”

“If you look at people with and without pets, those with pets tend to be healthier heart-wise,” says Glenn Levine, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine who was on the committee that wrote the AHA statement. Studies that Levine’s group assessed included ones finding that pet owners have lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rates and less risk of hypertension than people without pets. What’s not clear, he says, is whether having a pet makes people healthier or if it’s just that healthier people are more likely to own a pet. “The evidence that it’s a causal relationship is not as strong,” Levine says.

Studies show that if you subject people to a stressful situation with a dog in the room, they have smaller increases in heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline and other stress-related factors than if there is no pet present, Levine says, but the mechanisms for most of these associations remain unknown.

The most obvious way that a pet might help you become healthier is if it motivates you to get out and exercise. “The one mechanism that makes the most sense is if people adopt a dog and then walk it regularly and in doing so increase their own daily physical activity,” Levine says.

But not every dog owner becomes a vigilant dog walker, and when Rebecca Utz at the University of Utah examined the links between pet ownership and health measures among about 2,500 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, she found that people who kept cats or even fish as pets actually logged more physical activity than people with dogs. “You can’t explain the effect of pet ownership on dog walking,” she says.

Therapy dogs to the rescue

The Wag Brigade’s certified therapy dogs patrol the city’s airport to calm stressed travelers during the holiday season.

Still, she did find an association between pet ownership and health: Pet owners were less obese, had better self-reported health, less asthma and fewer cardiovascular problems than people without pets. But Utz says that her data also showed that people who had pets tended to be of higher socioeconomic status, which probably explains the association.

“What you shouldn’t do is go out and adopt an animal for the sole reason of wanting health benefits,” Levine says. “The primary reason to rescue an animal should be to give a pet a loving home.” If your new pet gives your lifestyle a healthy boost, consider it a bonus.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Flying with Pets: How to Ensure Safe Passage

Some important considerations when flying with your pets this Holiday season.

Flying with pets: How to ensure safe passage

With the holiday travel season in full swing, it's a good time to consider expert advice on how best to manage your itinerary. After all, Thanksgiving through New Year's spans some of the busiest days of the year for commercial flying in the United States.
But for those whose family includes furry members, it's also a good time to consider whether four-legged loved ones should fly at all. It's an issue that has been back in the news in recent weeks, after passenger Frank Romano's dog was lost by Delta Air Lines in Los Angeles on Halloween, allegedly after chewing through a plastic kennel.
Can some animals travel safely, either in the cabin or the belly of an aircraft? Yes. But it's a more complex issue than many pet owners realize, so a little research can be critical.
Weighing the risks
Since I last addressed this issue here in 2009 with "What you need to know about flying with pets," there has been an increase in guidance from animal care experts. There also has been additional evidence of the dangers, with more robust government statistics on animals that have been lost, injured or killed while in the care of U.S. airlines.
Some pets should not be flying at all -- ever. The American Humane Association advises: "As a general rule, puppies and kittens, sick animals, animals in heat and frail or pregnant animals should not travel by air." Furthermore, the Humane Society of the United States warns "air travel is particularly dangerous for animals with 'pushed-in' faces," such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats; some airlines will not accept them.
In addition, during this holiday season, some regions of the United States will be too cold for pet travel, while other regions will be too hot, making the booking process quite difficult. Minimum and maximum temperature guidelines apply, and they also apply to connecting cities along the way. Last year I assisted some family members who relocated to Central America by shipping their dog to them; although it was a crisp fall day in Newark and not particularly hot at the destination, the airline refused to board the dog because the temperature was soaring in Miami, the connecting hub.
In fact, there are so many dangers, concerns and nuances involved in flying with pets, three entire columns could be devoted to offering specific advice. So for detailed guidance, consider the experts who created these pages:
• The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Air Travel Tips
• The Humane Society's Travel Safely
• The American Humane Association's Traveling
• The American Veterinary Medical Association's Traveling with Your Pet
All four of these organizations also provide advice for those who travel by alternate modes, such as car, bus, train and ship.
It's important to note pet travel policies usually don't apply to service animals, andexceptions may apply for U.S. military and State Department personnel.
Learning the rules
First things first: Before you query individual airline policies, you need to review governmental restrictions. The U.S. Department of Transportation provides guidelines on Transporting Live Animals for both owners and shippers at its site. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration features a Flying with Pets page; it includes critical information on security screening and rules for pets in the passenger cabin.
For those traveling with pets in foreign countries -- or importing or exporting pets -- there are specific requirements, detailed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a rundown on foreign rules, country-by-country regulations are provided by the industry's global trade organization, the International Air Transport Association.
Once you've addressed all these issues, you'll need to learn the specific policies of the carrier you'll be booking, since they do vary. (So do the perks, such as frequent-flier mileage for four-legged friends.) Each airline has its own rules on which animals it will and will not carry, specific regulations for cabin and belly travel and policies on containers. Of course, in this golden age of airline "ancillary revenue," fees can vary for such services.
Here are links to more information from the largest domestic carriers:
* In this age of airline consolidation, it's worth noting American specifically states its merger partner US Airways has "different policies on pet travel."
Grading the airlines
So how do these domestic airlines perform when it comes to handling your furry fellow travelers? Thankfully, for nearly ten years now U.S. carriers are required to report all incidents to the DOT, and those reports are viewable to the public, though some animal lovers may find them tough reading.
Although the DOT has been posting such records since May 2005, in the early years it did not summarize the annual findings as it does with all other airline performance categories, such as flight delays and consumer complaints. Currently the annual totals are summarized, and here is how the airlines stacked up in 2013:
* Operates on behalf of Alaska, American and Delta
U.S. airlines not listed did not report any anomalies last year. However, what remains unclear is the total number of animals carried by each of the airlines, so consumers can't analyze these statistics on a proportional basis. But since the totals for Alaskaand United are so significantly higher than for all other domestic airlines, it can be instructional to view the detailed incident reports linked above.
A few last words ...
The sites listed above can address most of your questions about flying with pets. But consider this:
• The first step always is checking with your veterinarian to see if your pet is healthy enough to fly.
• For those seeking to transport a pet without accompanying it, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association offers pet owners advice on finding pet shippers, as well as warnings about pet scams.
• By the way, some well-meaning sites suggest you book a "direct flight," not realizing that in airline-speak direct flights make stops en route; ideally, you'll want to book a "nonstop flight," though this may not be possible in many cases. It's also important to know if all legs of an itinerary will be operated by the same carrier or a codeshare partner, particularly since so many domestic routes today are serviced by regional partners.
Bill McGee, a contributing editor to Consumer Reports and the former editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, is an FAA-licensed aircraft dispatcher who worked in airline operations and management for several years. Tell him what you think of his latest column by sending him an e-mail at Include your name, hometown and daytime phone number, and he may use your feedback in a future column.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shop Holiday: A few gifts for your favorite pet

Do not forget your pets during the holiday gift giving! Some ideas for pet gifts.

Shop Holiday: A few gifts for your favorite pet

We’ll spend more than $58 billion this year on our pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. Here are some gifts for them that won’t break your piggy bank:
If cats could talk, they’d tell you that meals taste best straight out of the cat food can. The Luxury Cat Dish from toy and novelty retailer Archie McPhee holds everything from kibble to caviar. This 5-inch ceramic tuna can is pet- and human-safe. $16.95 at
National Geographic and PetSmart have joined forces to market a line of pet toys that entertain and exercise pets and encourage interaction with their humans. Cat toys include a jellyfish, lizard, electronic caterpillar and slithering snake. These colorful toys satisfy a cat’s chase and hunt instincts by simulating the movements of prey in the wild. Proceeds benefit animal conservation and habitat preservation. Jellyfish Teaser — $7.99 at PetSmart.

(Click image for larger version)
Clothing for dogs is big business, and there’s one wardrobe item that’s practical. Dog footwear can help protect paw pads from road salt, rocks and mud. Combine them with one of several pet-safe ice-melting products for sidewalks, like Morton Safe-T-Pet Care Ice Melt or Safe Paw. Shown: Good2Go waterproof socks ­— $19.99 at Petco.
Fish are tough to shop for, but you can give them a more natural habitat with a collection of aquatic plants to perk up their aquarium decor. Petland in East Liberty offers a wide range of plants that will thrive in water, including Jungle Bamboo, Corkscrew Vallisneria, Lemon Bacopa and Amazon Sword. Prices range from $1.99 to $10.99.
A professional pet portrait is a great way to show off four-legged family members as well as two-legged ones. A number of professional photographers specialize in pet portraits. The studios at Premier Imaging in Northway Mall are now pet-friendly and equipped with a variety of imaginative backdrops. Prices range from $19 to $59.
Put your pet under surveillance and catch them when they sneak onto the couch or kitchen counter. The Motorola Scout 500-2 Video Pet Monitor consists of a monitoring unit and two indoor cameras. It has two-way communication so you can talk to your pet from another room. Infrared night vision allows monitoring in low light. $99 at PetSmart.
BarkBox is the gift that keeps on giving all year. This subscription service delivers a box with four or more toys, bones and treats to your pooch every month. BarkBox donates 10 percent of its profits to shelters and other animal-related organizations. Plans start at $18/month.
The American Kennel Club offers Woofipedia boxed collections of toys, treats and personalized items that range in price from $40 to $50. Available at

Animal Planet’s Sherpa Blanket for dogs is an ultra-soft 40-by-50-inch blanket that also works as a car seat/couch cover. Proceeds benefit Animal Planet’s Reach Out. Act. Respond animal advocacy initiative. $9.99 at Tuesday Morning.