Monday, March 31, 2008

How to Avoid Snake Bites at Feeding Time

When it comes to pet snakes, the vast majority of snake bites occur during feeding time. Many of these are the result of improper feeding techniques.

Among reptile geeks like myself, these are often referred to as stupid feeding errors or SFEs. I myself made an SFE several years ago with an otherwise docile rainbow boa, but I haven't repeated the error since then. Usually, one SFE is all it takes before a snake keeper changes their tactics!

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this. Actually, there are many solutions, but the simplest and most effective way to avoid snake bites at feeding time is to use a snake hook. The word "hook" scares some keepers away from using these products, but in truth they are completely safe.

If you've ever watched an episode of the old Jeff Corwin Show or something similar, you've probably seen a snake hook in action. Basically, it's like a golf club with a curved part at the end instead of a driver or putter. You can buy them at reptile shows, order them online from companies like Midwest Tongs, or make your own if you're crafty.

Another way to avoid bites is to choose a pet snake that has a reputation for being docile and reluctant to strike. Corn snakes fit into this category, as do ball pythons. That's why those two species are among the most popular snakes in the hobby. A healthy corn snake or ball python is extremely reluctant to bite its owner, and typically will only do so if a stupid feeding error takes place (see definition of SFE above).

A lot of keepers transfer their snakes into a separate tank or "feeding tub" at meal time. The idea is that this prevents the animal from associating the cage door opening with food, thereby reducing the likelihood that the snake will bite its owner by mistake. I personally don't use this option, but it's worth consideration.

The key to success here is to "think" like a snake. These animals use sight, scent and (sometimes) temperature to detect their prey. So if, for example, you put your hand into a snake's cage after handling a rodent, that snake would have three indicators that prey was nearby -- it would smell the rodent, detect the body heat from your hand, and see the movement of your hand. These are prime conditions for a stupid feeding error.

The solution I propose is simple and nearly 100% effective. Use a snake hook to initially lift the animal from its cage. Lift it from the mid-body area to provide the proper support. Once you have lifted the snake with the hook, it will realize that it's going to be handled and not fed. Then you can simply reach in with your hand and handle the snake as normal.

Brandon Cornett is the publisher of Reptile Knowledge, an educational website with information about reptile supplies and the proper keeping of snakes and lizards. Learn more by visiting

Keeping Hens - Delicious Fresh Eggs, and Lots of Fun Too!

Poultry-keeping is becoming more and more popular as people become increasingly aware of the importance of good, nutritious food, and unwilling to buy eggs which may have come from battery-farmed hens, routinely dosed with antibiotics and other chemicals. Hens need remarkably little space, even the smallest garden can accommodate a pair - and there's no need to worry about upsetting your neighbours with noise, you don't need a cockerel to get eggs from your hens. Of course if you live in the country, it's possible to enjoy keeping a whole flock of hens, which will ensure you a steady supply of eggs, and lots of manure for the garden too.

If you don't mind what your chickens look like, then why not consider taking in hens rescued from battery farms. This is very satisfying, as you know that you'll be giving your hens a longer, happier life. In battery farms the environment is controlled to encourage the hens to produce more eggs, which has the result that within 12 months, the hens are considered "spent" and are slaughtered. Given a new home as pets, and producing far fewer eggs, the hens will live for at least another two or three years.

If you do adopt battery hens then be aware that they will have been living in cages about 8 x 10" and will not have had perches to roost on. This means that they will arrive with few feathers and be totally unaccustomed to any sort of freedom. Their legs won't be strong enough to reach their roosting perches at first, so you may need to provide a ramp for them to reach the roose. They will usually have been debeaked, but foraging free-range will in time restore the beak's natural shape.

You will need to feed your hens a proprietary pelleted feed, which can be organic if you choose, but if not, then be sure to select one that's suitable for free-range birds. This feed will ensure they receive their essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, but you should also scatter grain on the ground to encourage them to begin to scratch, forage and range more widely. You should also provide poultry grit which helps break down the grain in the hen's gizzard. They will also enjoy kitchen scraps, but don't give them any meat, or scraps that are too salty.

Fresh, clean water should always be readily available, and place it in the shade as hens don't like drinking warm water. And don't forget to shut them safely away from any predators at bedtime.

Once you've mastered these simple, basic rules of poultry-keeping you'll find that hens are very little trouble to care for. And think how you'll enjoy those trips out into the garden in your linen apron, basket over your arm, to collect those still-warm eggs for breakfast, cakes or any other cooking you're planning to do.

Helen Dickson is the owner of DevonBear Designs. She designs and makes a small range of really practical - and pretty - textile items and stationery all inspired by the wonderful coast and countryside of South Devon, England. Helen is a talented watercolour artist and all DevonBear Designs products feature one of her images. Visit her site at


Friday, March 28, 2008

Brooding Problems When Raising Quail

By Gary Ortlieb

Chick's dying during the Brooding Process of Raising Quail is not necessarily your fault or caused by you doing anything wrong. If the eggs that the chicks came from were purchased quail eggs. There could have been a problem with the breeder's that produced these eggs.

The Breeder Quail may not be sick themselves but are carrying a disease. If they are carrying a disease this could be passed along to the chicks. It could cause them either not to hatch at all, or have very short lives. There is absolutely nothing you can do about this.

Another problem the Breeder Quail could have is not receiving the proper nutrition. This also will cause problems with the chicks. This is why your breeder's should be put on a breeder quail diet starting at least several weeks before breeding season. They should be kept on this diet through out the quail breeding season.

Then there are problems that you may be able to prevent. The quail chicks also need to be properly fed. I personally like to use a medicated quail starter food. This will help in preventing Coccidiosis, this disease will usually attack your chicks at the age of 2 weeks to 6 weeks of age. The medicated food is made to help prevent this.

Coccidiosis is found more in chicks being brooded on the ground or litter. You can help prevent this disease by maintaining a clean pen. Usually the cause of this disease is from the chicks eating droppings off of the floor. As you well know that is about all they do, so you have to do the best you can to keep their area clean.

Picking is always a potential problem when raising quail. During the brooding stage chicks are very prone to picking, toes, nose, back and tail feathers. This picking can and will result in death, if not controlled.

There are various solutions to this problem. One solution is using colored lights, blue is highly suggested although red will also work. The general thought on this, is just give them enough light to find their food and water. Another possible solution is to give them something to pick on other than each other. You could put in a small, leafy tightly bale of hay, this will sometimes help. If none of these solve this problem there is always the last resort of beak trimming.

I have been raising quail for 22 years and have written an ebook on the subject. "The Beginner's Guide to Raising Quail."


Pygmy Goat Auto Mechanics

Pygmy goats love to help, in their own little ways, with work around the homestead. Our little herd: Charlie, Ella, Jack and Sally are no different. As soon as I back out the lawn tractor Ella jumps onto the driver's seat. If I start cleaning out the shed Sally starts gnawing on the pitchfork. If I lay down in the driveway to look at a corroded muffler Jack starts using my back as a playground and Charlie nibbles on my tools.

The muffler finally rusted through on my Infiniti I30 after seven years and 135,000 miles and the goats wanted to get out there and help.

I mentioned three or four times to my family that I needed to crawl underneath and check things out before we involved any garages with "quote/unquote" real mechanics. They had been listening to the steadily increasing rattle of a broken support bracket and the even louder trumpet of a split pipe for three or four weeks so their sense of urgency was building, but I know you have to approach these events with equanimity (which is a fancy way of spelling laziness). I'd even gotten so far as to put the jack stands next to the car in the driveway and found some old jeans to rip into rags as a definitive indication that I would soon reach a point at which I might think about starting.

Okay, I had no way of knowing those jeans had been washed by my daughter with bleach and smooth stones forty times to give them that carefully cultivated "worn out" look. It's not like I wash the car with bleach and smooth stones. 135,000 miles of New York roads, with potholes big enough to hide wheelbarrows, were sufficient to provide a warmly contemporary worn out patina on the car.

So, after the jack stands stood guard for a week, and we used the van to run down and get a new pair of jeans, I guess my wife started to lose faith in the repair process. One rainy afternoon (that reminds me, I was ready to jump on that repair two or three times, but who wants to work in a muddy driveway on a rusted muffler in a pouring rain?) I got a call from my daughter asking if I wanted to spend $384 and just have the garage fix the muffler--that afternoon. She could tell by the tone of my querulous response that she was supposed to call her Mom with this estimate, not me.

The car had passed inspection one month before and now they wanted $384 dollars to wrap some bailing wire and duct tape around a pinhole? I suspect that $500 brake job had something to do with passing inspection. Is it just me, or does every inspection every year on every car end up in a $500 brake job? I'm starting to think this is just state sponsored baksheesh. The inspection is supposed to cost $37 dollars in New York, but somehow it always comes out to $537. As soon as there are $500 dollars worth of repairs then, magically, the inspected car--no matter how much lingering rot and devastation is present--seems to be roadworthy.

I could not bring myself to spend $384 dollars for a repair that I knew in my heart could just as easily cost $38.40 or $3.84. I used to work with a mechanic and, yes Virginia, there is a pinwheel in the back covered with random prices; sits right next to a set of sharpened darts. I vetoed the garage repair on the grounds that any idiot with a hammer and a torch could fix a leaky muffler and I was certainly a big enough idiot to qualify.

Next day I snuck out the front door with tools in hand. I couldn't go out the back door because the goats camp on the porch in our lawn chairs and I wanted to fix the car without any helpful pygmy paws. They have extremely keen senses and if they catch any movement, smell or sound they bound off to join the action.

I threw some cardboard over the gravel driveway, and jacked up the car. I turned on the compressor for the impact wrench and the jig was up with the goats. As soon as they heard the compressor crank up they knew the party was in the driveway. All four came dashing around the corner of the garage to lend a hand.

The goats started eating the cardboard out from under me. Then the goats started fighting over the cardboard because I was laying on most of it and all four of them wanted to eat the three square inches of cardboard that were showing right above my left shoulder. This meant the goats had to fight each other for who got to eat the cardboard. Which meant they had to scramble over my head to get a good running shot at bashing in the other goat's forehead. While Sally and Ella smashed each other's brains in, Jack focused on eating the cardboard.

Once I got positioned under the car, Charlie wanted to lie down next to me. He's so big, once he got settled in for a nap on the driveway, nuzzled right against my side, I couldn't get out from under the car.

Sally started crawling under the car to chew on the pipe between the catalytic converter and the muffler. She could only imagine that if this thing were so important I would spend hours staring at it and banging on it with all manner of implements it might also taste good. Ella was very concerned Sally might be nibbling something tasty Ella couldn't reach, so she started wiggling forward on her knees to join us under the car.

I had to get the goats out from under the car as it was balanced, somewhat precariously, on four 2x6's and two hydraulic jacks left over from a house remodeling project that didn't stay at the top of my list long enough to reach completion. If the whole set up started to tip I needed to roll out of there quickly. However, I knew I'd try to save the goats on the way out and that would probably mean all of us getting squashed under the car together. There are certainly worse things than dying under a car with screaming goats kicking at your head, but there's also a long list of less worse things.

Long story short, the total cost of the repair was $8.97 for a new gasket. A savings of $375.03. Of course, there was $5.00 of gas to get the gasket. Then $175 for the welder bought on sale at Sears, but which I will use many many times for all manner of house, lawn, and garden projects. I'm starting to draw sketches for an elaborate gateway arch over the garden entry that I can now weld together. Sure, welding classes were $227, but that shouldn't count because now I've got a trade that might come in handy if I'm ever traveling on the Siberian highway and need to fix a broken transaxle.

I also used my drill press, my compressor, my die grinder and an impact wrench (not cheap, but there's 450 foot-lbs of torque in that beast). The same principle applies; these are capital investments I'll be able to amortize over the next twenty years of repairs, and the goats are going to have so much fun helping me.

Copyright 2007, Lotus Pond Media

Steven C. Grant is the Director, Business Development for Lotus Pond Media and the co-author of two children's books about pygmy goats: Meet the Goat Kids and The Goat Kids Explore the Woods. You can read more stories about the goat kids at, enjoy family photographs, purchase goat kids memorabilia, and sign up for the Pygmy Talk forum.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ten Things You Should Know About Pet Lizards

By Dr. Robert Sprackland

If you are about to obtain your first pet lizard, congratulations. Lizards are, in my view, the most wonderful, fascinating and beautiful creatures on Earth. Part of their appeal is their incredible diversity; there are more species of lizards than all the mammals or amphibians, and they range from three-inch legless burrowers to the mighty 200-pound Komodo dragon. Some are coloured with somber tans and ochre, and others rival the most ostentatious of butterflies with gaudy green, red, and yellow markings. Some glide on fragile wings, some run across the water, and some can stick to ceilings. With my sincere apology to Samuel Johnson, it is my opinion that "when a man gets tired of lizards, he is tired of life"!

That said, here are ten valuable guidelines to help you and your lizard get off to a good start, and stay on a safe and happy course. I speak with a wee bit of experience, having kept lizards since 1961, and going on to spending over 30 years as a professional herpetologist. These tips are just a starting point, but they cover ten really important points!

1) Start by getting a lizard that is easy to care for! Many lizards are very demanding in captivity, and those should be left to experienced keepers. Among the best starter lizards are the Australian bearded dragon and blue-tongue skinks, which grow to a total length near 13-inches. They do not become stressed when properly handled, are generally tame, and eat a wide variety of foods, from fruits, vegetables and flowers to insects, moist dog food and small mice. Savanna monitors are also good for beginners, but get a young specimen and raise it to adult size; freshly imported adults may be aggressive, but captive bred/raised specimens are excellent animals for beginner keepers.

2) Avoid getting a species that people think of as "pets" but are really very challenging to keep properly. Among those species to avoid: iguanas, Nile monitors, chameleons, and small species that grow to only 3 - 8 inches in length.

3) Read up about your lizard, because there is no excuse for doing a poor job as its keeper. For books, you can consult Bibliomania! at, one of the largest reptile book dealers in existence. Then subscribe to one of the magazines published for reptile keepers, which include REPTILES (, REPTILIA (, REPTILES AUSTRALIA (, and Britain publishes REPTILE CARE ( ).

4) Remember that lizards and snakes are very closely related groups of animals, but lizards need very different care. Unlike snakes that may need food only once a week or month, lizards usually need to eat every day, and sometimes more than once per day. But do not leave rotting or dirty food in the terrarium, because it could be contaminated with germs and cause your lizard to become sick.

5) Do not grab or hold a lizard by the tail. Even though the tail of a bearded dragon, blue-tongue skink, or savanna monitor will not break off, it is uncomfortable for the lizard. Get used to holding the lizard by putting your hand under its belly and supporting its weight from below.

6) Never use your lizard to frighten anyone! Strange as it may sound, some people are afraid of reptiles, and that kind of fear has led to many laws and regulations being passed that make owning reptiles in some places difficult. It is much better for the lizards - and the rest of us keepers - if you use your lizard to help teach other people how wonderful they really are!

7) Never release an unwanted pet reptile into the wild. Most pets are from other continents and will not live long where you live. It is also possible, especially in a place like Florida, that the released pet will do well and, if many such pets have been released, found a colony of foreign animals. This is not good for the local wildlife and really upsets conservationists and Fish and Wildlife officials.

8) All diurnal (active during the daytime) lizards need some ultraviolet light in their lives. But UV light does not penetrate glass, so it doesn't help to put a terrarium near a window. In addition to a heat light (all lizards need a temperature of at least 78 degrees F, many much more), you will need a good full-spectrum UV light. These are now produced to fit in either a screw-in socket or a standard fluorescent tube socket. For examples of excellent products check the Zoo Med website at

9) Always be sure your lizard has access to fresh, clean water! Some lizards only drink dew drops from leaves, but these species are not among the beginner's species. Even desert lizards - and that includes all of the beginner species I've listed - can and will drink from a dish, and even enjoy soaking if the dish is large enough. Soaking also makes skin shedding easier for your lizards.

10) Do not crowd your lizard. If you are getting two lizards to start with, make them both the same species, preferably one of each sex, about the same size, and house them in a terrarium that is large enough. Overcrowded lizards become stressed and may refuse to eat. They are also more likely to catch an illness. If you cannot offer enough space, do not get the lizard. Period.

BONUS TIP 1) A fourth excellent starter lizard is the leopard gecko, a delicate and very popular nocturnal species that has been bred into many colour morphs (it's something like the lizard keeper's equivalent of the guppy!). Unlike the other starter species I mentioned, leopard geckos are smaller (to about 6 inches), have soft, delicate skin, and have tails that are easily broken. Yes, they grow back, but only as stiff rods that never look as good as the original. They also require more gentle handling than the larger starter species. They do not need UV light, but they still need a warm terrarium (70 - 78 degrees at night, 78 -95 degrees by day), sandy soil, and places they can hide. Feed them live insects, especially crickets, young roaches, and wax worms.

BONUS TIP 2) Do not use heat rocks to keep diurnal lizards warm! The lizards are, frankly, not "wired" to know that their bellies are actually cooking, and they may stay on the rock until badly injured or dead! Leopard geckos, however, will be fine with a heat rock or two.

Other things that you should know include washing your hands well after handling your lizards, do not tease or annoy the animals, and be sure to keep the terrarium clean.

The second edition of Dr Sprackland's classic book, "Giant Lizards," is scheduled to be released in October 2008. It not only covers the world's largest lizards, but includes chapters about lizard care and biology that are useful to all reptile keepers. Look for "Giant Lizards, 2nd Edition" published by TFH, Inc., at your favourite pet shop or book seller's.

The author is a professional biologist who teaches human anatomy and physiology. His blogs present a view of human nature as might be observed by a visitor from another world...

The second edition of Dr Sprackland's classic book, "Giant Lizards," is scheduled to be released in October 2008. It not only covers the world's largest lizards, but includes chapters about lizard care and biology that are useful to all reptile keepers. Look for "Giant Lizards, 2nd Edition" published by TFH, Inc., at your favourite pet shop or book seller's.


Pet Turtle Care

Keeping a turtle as a pet has come a long way from the plastic palm tree set-ups of old. From the common box turtle to the less-common Ornate Wood Turtle to the extremely rare albino soft shell, there's a turtle for every lifestyle, budget, and personality. Turtles make fascinating, peaceful pets, but their penchant for longevity means you must be prepared to devote as many as thirty or forty years of care and attention to your new reptilian friend. If you're ready to share your heart and home with one of nature's most ancient and mysterious creatures, then read on for some great pet turtle care advice.

The type of care your turtle will require depends, for the most part, on the type of turtle you plan on getting. While you will certainly want to learn as much as you can about the specific breed of turtle you select, there are some basic rules that apply to pet turtle care, and these rules are different for the two main categories of turtles-water turtles and land turtles. To ensure your turtle's long life and happiness, you should strive to give him a comfortable, home-like environment. For water turtles (such as sliders, coots, and map turtles) this means providing at least 20 gallons of tank space complete with a small "island" for basking, a heat lamp for simulating sunlight, and a UVB light to help the turtle absorb maximum nutrients from his food. Water turtles are graceful, speedy swimmers, so the more swimming room they have, the better! Land turtles (such as box turtles) require plenty of room to roam with hollowed logs or flowerpots to hide in, natural vegetation, a basking area with a heat lamp, and a shallow dish of water for soaking. Many people choose to keep their land turtles outside in specially designed pens. This enables the turtles to not only enjoy the great outdoors, but to hibernate in the winter just as they would in the wild.

While the housing needs of water and land turtles differ dramatically, their diets are actually quite similar. As you learn to take care of a pet turtle, you'll discover that turtles, like most people, are omnivores. This means you'll probably be adding some groceries to your list! There are several varieties of pre-made "turtle chow" available at pet stores, but it's best to use those products sparingly and offer your turtle a wide range of foods. Most land and water turtles alike will happily devour crickets, earthworms, and snails. Water turtles love chasing feeder fish such as minnows and goldfish around their tank and many will also eat cooked chicken, shrimp, and tuna Never feed your turtle hamburger meat, as it's far too high in fat for your turtle to digest properly. Turtles also enjoy a nice salad or fruit plate from time to time. They're particularly fond of Romaine lettuces (never feed iceberg or spinach), dandelion greens, carrots, cantaloupe, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and apples. Who knows! Having a turtle might just help you on your way to healthier eating habits (though we probably can't say the same for exercise).

While you may not feel like a pet turtle care expert right now, you'll hopefully have many happy years to become one! Caring for a pet turtle can be an experience that is both unique and rewarding in a pet-keeping culture dominated by dog and cat owners. While a turtle may not greet you at the door or curl up purring on your feet, it provides a lower maintenance option for busy people who don't have time for a dog or cat. At the end of a long, hard day, a turtle's gentle, peaceful, low-stress personality will surely be a calming influence and inspiring refuge in a speed-driven society. Take some time to relax, munch on a piece of fruit, and enjoy time well spent in the company of your new turtle!

About The Author: Barry S. Mcgee is a pet enthusiast. His site at: provides advice and information on all aspects of pet care for all types of pets including dogs, cats, ferrets and others and makes it easier for pet owners to choose the best solution for their companion's care.

For answers to all your pet care questions, please visit:


Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Big Cover Up

By John Ratcliffe

Because of diligent campaigning by dedicated groups of compassionate people who are striving to put an end to the terrible exploitation, suffering and death that is an inherent characteristic of the greyhound racing industry, and also because of several newspaper reports that have exposed what has been and still is, happening to thousands of beautiful dogs every day, the racing industry is fighting back. They are trying to refute the hard clear evidence by saying that the greyhounds in their care are treated well. They say, why would we treat them badly, we want them to be well cared for in order to win races. Well at least by saying that they have admitted that their only concern is that the dogs are fit enough to win races.

Even if what they say is true, and I dispute that anyway because their idea of comfortable standards for the dogs is far different than mine, it still only applies while a particular dog is making money. If the dog is injured and requires expensive veterinary care, does it get the treatment it needs? I can tell you that the answer in the very great majority of cases is no, it doesn't. It is very probable that the dog will be killed. If a greyhound is lucky enough to escape serious injury it will still, after three to five years come to the end of its racing career. At this point the industry will have you believe that all the dogs are then found good homes by their homefinding department, the Retired Greyhound Trust. (RGT.)

About nine thousand greyhounds come to the end of their racing career each year. Do you really believe that there are nine thousand families in Britain every year waiting to give a good home to an ex-racing greyhound? If you have ever tried to get a stray dog into an animal sanctuary you will realize the naivety of such a belief. They are all full to bursting with all kinds of stray and unwanted dogs. There are not enough potential homes for even these dogs, so where are nine thousand more homes going to come from to take the unwanted "stock" of the greyhound racing industry?

We have not yet even addressed the worst part of all of this cruel, greedy game. In order to supply replacements for the nine thousand "retiring" dogs each year, about thirty thousand puppies are bred, mainly in Ireland. If nine thousand make it through to the tracks of England and Ireland what happens to the rest? That's approximately twenty one thousand living beings every year. What happens to them? Please ask yourself that question and see if you can answer it for yourself satisfactorily.

When they have reached the age required the new puppies will be "trialed" , that means checked to see if their chase instinct is developed enough to undergo further "training". The ones that show no interest in chasing will, quite simply be killed, and I don't mean humanely by a vet. It's as simple as that. Is that acceptable to you? Even the ones that pass their initial trials will be graded, and the ones with the lowest potential will be disposed of. Finally, after twenty one thousand of these souls have disappeared, there will be the required nine thousand for the tracks. They will then begin their short but hazardous life and we find ourselves back at the end of the second paragraph.

Have you ever wondered what really does happen at this stage. Having dismissed the absurd claims by the industry that good homes are found for the dogs, ask yourself what really does happen. This article was not meant to address this question. There are many pages on my web site that cover the issue, please have the courage to read them and find out for yourself what the industry has succeeded in covering up for so long.

There is a lot of money behind the greyhound racing industry and they are using some of it at the moment on expensive advertisements in the newspapers and television. They are offering free admission; a free race card; even free drinks and meals. They are panicking because more and more people are finding out for themselves what has been hidden from them for over eighty years. It must be costing them a lot of money but they can afford it. They need to attract new punters to maintain their greedy lifestyle and the ultimate losers are the beautiful dogs that they are exploiting. Do you want to be a link in this chain of suffering and death? I suspect not if you have read this far, so please do all you can to bring an end to competitive greyhound racing worldwide. The way to do this is simply to tell everyone in your address book what you have learned and ask them to tell everyone they know, and so on. No business can survive without customers so please educate the customers of the greyhound racing industry. The dogs are depending on you.

I have spent a long time in rescue and re-homing of Greyhounds, many from the race tracks. I have seen many atrocities and I know what a terribly cruel world it is for a racing Greyhound. There is no copyright on anything on and everything is freely available for you to use to make as many people as possible aware if the inherent cruelty within this industry.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dog fashion shows are a hit around the globe

by Lisa Magill

Dog fashion shows are a hit around the globe

The last few months have seen the unveiling of new Spring and Summer collections at pet couture shows in cities across the globe. Getting things rolling at the top end of the market was the famous Harrods Department Store in London which held its fifth annual Pet-à -Porter dog fashion show in November. The theme of the show was a 'Diamond Dogs' and one of the highlights was a spectacular Stephen Webster diamond and precious jewel dog collar worth over half a million pounds. Other designs incorporated pearls, sapphires, and rubies. Hundreds of people turned out to sip champagne and nibble on canapés at Harrods while watching the well behaved dog models (and their human companions) strut down the runway wearing outfits by top designers including Ben de Lisi and Vivienne Westwood. After two hours of dazzling dog fashion, guests left with an exclusive doggy bag full of treats for those furry friends who couldn't attend the show.


Tokyo is another up-and-coming centre of dog fashion where canine couture is particularly popular. Walking through the city's parks you will rarely see a dog that isn't dressed to the nines and perfectly accessorized, and some Tokyo owners are known to have several dozen different outfits for their dogs. Tokyo also hosted Japan's first New Year Dog Party in January. The event featured activities such as dog yoga, photo sessions, gourmet dog food bars, and fashion shows with human and dog models strutting down the runway in matching outfits by top international designers. Highlights of the show included a $20,000 diamond-encrusted leather doggie jacket modelled by a dachshund and a gold and silver coloured jacket with Swarovski crystals for $5,000. Other canine uber-models included shih-tzus in biker jackets, poodles in polka dot dresses, bull dogs in sailor suits, a poodle dressed as Audrey Hepburn, greyhounds in rasta hats, a maltese in a denim body suit and yellow boots, and even a dog in a neon green wig. The two day event attracted crowds of up to 20,000 people who enjoyed themselves almost as much as all the dogs who welcomed the chance to socialise, enjoy the aromatherapy spas, sniff, do a little yoga, perhaps compete in a speed-eating contest, and of course - show off their latest outfit.


New York is naturally at the forefront of dog fashion and it is the site of Pet Fashion Week New York, an annual event since 2006. In addition to the runway shows, this event features a lifestyle tradeshow, a black tie fundraiser for charity, and awards ceremonies. The show is held in August and last summer some of the most outrageous fashions were provided by Isle of Dogs whose canine and human models ranged from visions of post-apocalyptic, metallic silver and purple robots to a pink chiffon Mary Poppins accompanied by a teacup poodle with pink highlights and a sparkling princess crown. Other designers showcased leopard print and denim combinations, ruffled dresses and even a yorkie wearing a white angel outfit with feathers and wings.


So, what fashion trends emerged from these shows? Well here's a rundown of what's in for pet couture this Spring.


Pink is as hot as ever this Spring season but with a new twist of pretty floral patterns, ruffles, lace and appliqué detail, polka dots, metallic fabrics and accessories. For a fresh Spring look and feel, soft sheer fabrics combined with cotton and linen will feature and yellow will be popular alongside contrasting black and white, colours that suit dogs of all shapes and sizes. Shades of green will also be popular as the more environmentally friendly hemp will be making an impact amongst more eco-conscious owners in the coming months.


White will also feature strongly this Spring/Summer season for both boy and girl dogs with smocking and puff sleeve detail making an appearance as well. Making a comeback this season are soft cosy pajamas, and they're not just for casual home wear - pet parents wearing matching pj's are predicted to be a new street-wear trend combining style with comfort. For cooler days, stylish warmth will be provided by cotton hoodies, soft knit jumpers and ponchos in pastel shades of pink and green.


Dog Tee's with slogans are always popular. This Spring, Tee's with leopard trim are predicted to be a big hit along with Tee's with chiffon trim for girls and skull and heart designs for boys. And finally, pet parents of big dogs will be finding it easier to dress their dogs in the latest funky trends this year as more and more pet fashion designers are including big dog sizes in their lines.


That's the story from the runways around the world, we here at Paris Pooch Pet Boutique hope you all have a colourful and fun season this Spring!


Written by: Lisa Magill, Paris Pooch Online Pet Boutique (a chic and fun Irish online pet boutique, we ship all over the world)  




The information for this article was gathered from the following sources: Arnold, M. In Tokyo, High Fashion is going to the Dogs. The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 1, 2008.


Demetriou, D. Pet Fashion Trends. Independent News and Media Limited, 2008.


Nagata, K. Canine style unleashed as dogs hit catwalks in Tokyo. The Japan Times, Jan. 13, 2008.


About the Author


Lisa Magill owns the Paris Pooch Online Pet Boutique, an Irish online pet boutique that ships all over the world. 


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Solving Your Pet's Anal Gland Problems

Your pet's anal glands are probably something that you don't tend to think about on a day-to-day basis. That is, you don't think about it until after your already having a problem. At that point the smell is already on your carpet, and your pet is already in pain. So, what do you do about it?


Well first, you need to know exactly what it is that you're dealing with. All dogs and cats have anal glands. They are two small glands, or sacs, that are located just below and on either side of the anus. When they are functioning normally, the glands secrete a strong smelling substance that is unique to each individual animal. In a healthy animal the feces presses against the gland and stimulates secretion. The problems start when the glands don't express normally. When this happens the glands back up and can even become infected.


So, how can you tell if your pet is having problems with their anal glands? The most common sign is scooting. We all know this behavior. It is when a dog or cat raises up their tail and scoots their back end across the ground, usually on your carpet. This is an attempt to express the glands and relieve the pressure. You might also notice that your pet cries or whimpers while they are trying to defecate. If you see either of these behaviors, it is a sign that your pet is in some serious discomfort, and its time to get them some help.


One way to help them get relief is to express the anal glands manually. This is a simple procedure that can be done at your vet's office, or even by you if you're brave enough. What you need to do is press your thumb and pointer finger just to the outside of the anal glands. As you apply the pressure upwards and inwards you should see the fluid expressing itself out of the anal opening. If you find that your pet has a problem with irritated anal glands then this is a procedure that you should do regularly to help alleviate the pressure. If you have any questions on how to do this properly then just ask your vet, they will be happy to show you how. This combined with a high fiber diet can do quite a bit to prevent irritation.


Now for some pets these steps just aren't enough, even when done regularly. For animals like this there are some great natural remedies out there on the market. One great option is PetAlive's AnalGlandz. This product is wonderful for cleaning the anal area as well as reducing pain and helping to soften the harden material inside of the glands. The way it works is that you mix a small amount of the solution with warm water and then apply it directly to the anal area. Start with every day and then once anal function has returned to normal you can cut back to once or twice a week. If this sounds like something that your pet can benefit from you can order AnalGlandz from


Your pet's anal glands are one of those things that you just hope know how to clean themselves. Unfortunately sometimes that is just not the case. If you feel that your pet is having problems with their anal glands, then try your hand at the remedies we have outlined here. That way your pet can finally find the relief they so desperately need.


visit our website for natural alternatives for all of your pet needs.


About the Author


I have been interested in pet health issues since finding out how sad and painful some pet illnesses can be. As an advocate for natural healing in pets and humans, I have done intensive research to bring information to all pet owners and pet lovers alike. I hope this helps you. Michelle Reynolds


Monday, March 10, 2008

Japanese Akita Inu: Big and Powerful

by Ken Charles

The Japanese Akita is not a suitable dog as a normal family pet. It was originally bred in the Akita Prefecture in Japan, as a hunting dog, for deer, wild boar and even bears. For this purpose, it required to be a large, strong dog with confident, dominant tendecies and an independent nature. The Akita is also known as Akita Inu, which is Japanese for dog.

The average height for the Akita is between 24 to 28 inches and will weigh from eighty to one hundred and ten pounds. He has strong, heavy bones and a muscular body. This is a lot of dog!

The Akita has a double coat, which is harsh and waterproof, with a thick, dense undercoat. It sheds profusely, all year round and requires brushing and grooming every day. The coat can be white, brindle or tan and any mix of these. The dense coat of this breed means that he is happy in the snow but he will suffer in a hot climate.

This is not a dog for inexperienced owners, or for people who are elderly or weak. Akitas are intelligent and athletic and when socialized are faithful and affectionate but will always strive for the dominant position in the family group. He may show aggression towards family members and may not suit a family with small children. With this breed, it is vital that you are the Alpha Dog and that he knows his place in your "pack"!

The Akita may show aggression towards other dogs and small animals and should not be allowed to roam off-leash in public areas where there are many people and other dogs.

Training Akitas

The Akita can be difficult to train because they are intelligent and stubborn and can quickly become bored. it should never be a question of "asking" an Akita to do something. It must always be a strong command from a dominant owner. When you say "NO", mean it and make it stick. You may have problems with house training, as Akitas suffer from urinary infections in infancy.

There is plenty of information available online, much of it Free, on the subject of Dog Aggression. Any dog which shows undue aggression, to people or animals, is in urgent need of proper expert training.

If you take an Akita into your family, you must be prepared to spend time and effort on training, socializing, excercise and grooming. This large dog also costs a lot to feed.

Akitas in the Family

There are conflicting opinions about the suitability of Akitas with young children. Historically, the breed had a strong reputation for being protective of young children and were often left in sole charge. Other opinions point out the dominant nature of the breed and the fact that these dogs will compete for their place in the pack. Certainly, a young child will be no match physically for an adult Akita.

Proper supervision of the behavior of the dog and the children is essential in this situation. Having said this, a well socialized Akita will be more comfortable with this.

Akitas make extremely good guard dogs. They have a strong territorial instinct and will be very protective of family and property. As a watch dog, they are quietly effective. They do not bark unnecessarily but will certainly raise the alarm at the approach of any strange visitors or sounds.

The average lifespan of the Akita is about 12 years. Like many other breeds of dog, cancer is the most common cause of death. Recent surveys in both the United Kingdom and the USA/Canada revealed this to be the case, with other causes including cardiac and bloat/torsion.

About the Author

There is a load of Free information and useful links on Japanese Akitas at which also covers all aspects of dog ownership, including Dog Training, Dog Breeds, Dog Food and Dog Health. For the best advice on training the Akita, visit

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dogs & Fleas

by Miss Debra Rae

Fleas have been around a while now and the chances of them continuing to be amongst us are very good. Unless you live in Alaska, Antarctica or some other place where there's extreme cold, fleas are nasty little blood suckers that must be dealt with swiftly and severely. Remember, it was the fleas on the rats that spread the black plague.

Fleas are hardy little insects that live from 6-12 months. In only 1 year, a pair of fleas can produce millions of offspring that jump from 15-36 inches. This may not seem so impressive until you realize that if humans could jump like fleas, we would be leaping over 100 story buildings in a single bound.

There are 4 stages to a flea's life. The first flea stage, which is about 50% of the population, is eggs. A female flea lays 15-20 eggs every day. This means she can lay 600 or more eggs in her lifetime. Phase II of a fleas life is the "Larvae" stage where the tiny blood sucker develops. This is about 30% of the population. In Phase III, they're called "Pupae" or "pre-adults" making up about 15% of the flea population. Phase IV is full on adult flea, the remaining 5%, that lives off the blood of your dog or any other warm blooded animal the flea can bite into including humans. Yuck!

Fleas are tiny, relentless, disease carrying creatures. If your dog has fleas and it's left untreated, your baby could end up with severe skin irritations, nasty infections, anemia or even tapeworms. Not to mention being horribly uncomfortable from the little creatures biting all day and night.

If your dog is continually scratching, has scabs or dark specs on their body (which may be flea dirt), has red splotches, hot spots or obvious severe irritation, they may have FAD (flea allergy dermatitis). This can become serious literally overnight, so please see your Veterinarian and get the medication your canine needs.

On the other hand, your dog may not be scratching at all, but still may have fleas. Check your dog every day while you're petting & loving on them. Give them a good brushing too. Most dogs love it. This is a great way to keep on top of any potential problems and reinforces the bond you already have with your canine family member.

To help get rid of fleas on your dog, first give them a bath with mild flea shampoo in cool (not cold) water (the cool water calms down irritated skin). Spray on doggie safe hydrocortisone (this can be purchased from your local pet store, your Veterinarian, or online) to help with the really sensitive hot spots and the general discomfort of having fleas continually biting and multiplying. After your dog is dry you still need to prevent any future infestations.

To prevent fleas, it's best to get a once per month topical flea treatment that repels and kills fleas, tics and mosquitoes. The topical "Advantix" works like a super star. It's placed on the skin in a few places every month and within 24-48 hours has completely covered your dog with a protective shield against fleas, tics & mosquitoes. It's also waterproof after curing so it's fine if your dog goes swimming or needs a bath. For those who prefer a more natural approach, there are many products available for your dog. The natural approach requires more diligence on your part but can often work well.

Now that you've treated your dog for fleas, it's time to rid your house and your dog's house of them. Fleas and their eggs end up on basically everything. The carpet, rugs, beds, blankets, clothing. Anything your dog had contact with or was within flea jumping distance. If you don't rid your house of them now then you have not broken the cycle of flea infestation. So, since your dog has on their super shield flea repellent, then the little buggers are going to start looking elsewhere for fresh blood; like you, your guests or your children.

Generally a good washing of blankets, bedding and clothing in warm/hot water does the trick. Get some "20 Mule Team Borax" and mix it with your detergent (fleas don't like borax). You can also sprinkle borax on your carpets, rugs & upholstery. Leave for a few hours and then vacuum really well. Be sure to discard the bag immediately. If your vacuum is bag less then clean out the container with bleach water. Be sure to discard the filter after your flea cleaning spree or the fleas, pupae & eggs you vacuumed up will continue to flourish.

Remember to clean the car and the dog house too!

An alternative to borax for your furniture, carpets, etc. is "Demize" which is an insect growth inhibitor (IGI) and can be purchased at most home and garden supply stores or online. Be sure to read all the instructions carefully. This is a chemical and must be handled responsibly.

If your dog had fleas, so does your yard. The best way to rid your yard of fleas is to destroy them with their natural enemy, "Nematodes". Nematodes are microscopic worms (the good kind) that kill flea eggs and larvae. This equals 80% of the flea population. Nematodes are your friend. If you decide on Nematodes, start in shaded areas (direct sun kills these wonderful little creatures). You can buy Nematodes at your local pet supply store or home & garden store. Whichever method you choose, be sure to break the cycle of flea infestation.

The bottom line: Fleas are nasty, blood-sucking insects that not only bite and often carry parasites & disease but they multiply rapidly and get out of control fast. Kill the fleas now. Treat your dog for fleas now. Do what's best for you and all your family members. Especially the furry ones. They count on you to care for them. Do a good job. The rewards are endless. .

Note: Always talk with your Veterinarian before giving any oral or topical medications. This is especially critical if your dog has special needs or any other health issues.

About the Author

Miss Rae has been a poet & writer since college at UW, class of 1996. Visit her site for all your dog's needs from training programs to nutrition, choosing a vet & books galore. Visit Good

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How To Keep Your Pup's Hygiene At The Top

by Elise Rogers

Dandruff is a condition that plagues many human beings throughout the globe. Not only can it be uncomfortable, it can be embarrassing as well. Did you know that dogs can get dandruff too? Not only can dogs get it, it is much worse! Because hair covers their entire body, they usually get dandruff everywhere, not just on their scalp! It also can make dogs irritated with all the scratching they do because of their itchy skin. A simple growth of dandruff can turn ugly due to constant scratching- which may cause skin to break.

So, how does dandruff occur? Dandruff is often the result of proliferating skin cells; that is, it occurs when the skin cells grow, die, then flake off. Dandruff can also occur sometimes when their skin becomes too dry, due to cold weather, a dehydrating shampoo, or too frequent bathing. It is important to try to remedy this issue as soon as it begins. You don't want your dog becoming overly irritated and scratching themselves all the time. If it gets bad, excessive scratching can lead to redness and soreness of the skin.

So how can doggie dandruff be taken care of? Too frequent bathing can cause dandruff; however, not washing your pet often enough can also cause dandruff. If you feel this may be the case, give your dog a bath and be sure to scrub them gently (yet firmly) to get rid of all the excess and dead skin on your pup's body. A general rule of thumb is to bathe your pet once a month in the winter and twice in the summer.

Using a gentle shampoo (such as baby shampoo) or a special dog moisturizing shampoo will help hydrate and pamper your pet's skin. Thoroughly rinse your pet with warm (not hot!) water to ensure all of the shampoo is washed out (wait until the water runs clear).

If using a moisturizing pet shampoo or a baby shampoo doesn't work, go ahead and purchase a doggie dandruff shampoo for more power. Make sure it contains sulfur or salicylic acid, because these are the driving agents behind getting rid of itchy dandruff, as well as soothing the skin. Though this is difficult with a dog in a bathtub, make sure your pet sits in the lather for at least 5 minutes before rinsing it off. This will allow the product to thoroughly seep in and become active. As a side note, do not attempt to use human dandruff shampoos. These are made out of strong formulas that can be very harmful to pets, though they are perfectly safe for human use.

Doggie dandruff is uncomfortable, itchy, and unsightly. Help your dog out by bathing them properly and by washing them with doggie dandruff shampoo when it is necessary. Remember to brush them daily as well; this will help evenly distribute the skins natural oils thus helping with hydration.

Keep your dog healthy by grooming them properly and by bathing them with the correct products. Then you will have a healthy, happy, and itch-free pup!

About the Author

Discount Pet Mall features dog beds & elevated dog feeders.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Who Causes Your Dog Health In Danger ?

If you're fond of dogs, you'll understand the importance of dog health. Knowing about it will help you immediately diagnose symptoms of illness and disease, allowing you to administer first aid before calling the vet. Most dog owners neglect studying about healthy dog, since dogs are naturally hardy creatures, but it is essential to a long, happy life for your canine buddy. A healthy dog is a happy dog (and vice-versa), and even the simplest dog health care will be beneficial to him.

Washing your dog is an essential part of. You can bathe your dog as often as once a week, but make sure you keep him warm during and after the bath. You may decide to bathe your dog in its own special tub, using a hose and spray nozzle. Ease your dog into the tub carefully so as not to surprise or scare him. Use careful, gentle movements throughout the bath, and be positively involved in the process.

Grooming is a dog health practice that keeps him free from parasites. Grooming includes hair clipping and cutting, nail clipping, powdering, and teeth cleaning. Grooming your dog is easier if they were groomed as puppies, so training your puppy to accept washing and other grooming techniques at a young age is highly advisable. Grooming is important for dog, and your own as well - you won't have to deal with as much dog hair and odor. Grooming also improves dog life by cutting down on allergies and infection.

dog health also depends on the right food. Meat should be the main constituent of your dog's diet. Fresh, canned, or frozen beef constitutes good choices. It is not always necessary (though highly advisable) to cook the meat, but it should be at least served at room temperature. Dogs also need starch and fiber, which can be added onto the dog's diet through food such as rice, corn, and lettuce. Puppies need additional vitamins and minerals, and your veterinarian can give you vitamin supplement tablets that your dog will enjoy chewing. These can all be found in good pet stores, as well.

Exercise is good for dog and your own. A well-exercised dog rests more calmly and is less nervous when left alone at home. Regular exercise can strengthen his bones and joints and improve his heart and lung functions. The best dog routine exercises both his mind and body. Lack of exercise results in poor dog health, including poor muscle tone, obesity, heart ailments, bone disorders, and emotional problems such as quirky behavior.

Dogs, as they are well-known, are man's best friends. They are sociable creatures and fiercely loyal to their owners. As a dog owner, it's your responsibility to keep him healthy and happy with the right amounts of hygiene, food, and exercise. Maintaining good routines will ensure he returns the care and companionship to you for many, many years.

About the Author

Finley Zhang is a dog lover, and he enjoy sharing information and knowledge to improve dog's health. He is owner of YummyHealthyDogFood. YummyHealthyDogFood has helped dog owners improve their dog's life by sharing dog food recipes and dog tips. You can instantly access the recipes and tips by visiting


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