Thursday, June 29, 2006

Puppy food
September 21, 2001 2:39 PM
Ask the breeder, pet store or shelter what kind of food is currently being fed to your pup. Stay with that for about 10 days. Then, if you choose another brand of puppy food, make the shift gradually.
Arriving at a new home can be traumatic for a puppy, and this can affect diet. Encourage a pup, if it is too distracted to eat during those first few days. Either microwave the dry food on medium heat, just enough to create an enticing aroma (don't burn your puppy's tongue) or add moist food to dry kibble. But don't allow this practice to become a habit; even little puppies are capable of training their owners.
Veterinary nutritionists encourage a diet of primarily dry food. High-quality puppy foods are researched and balanced, and they do not require supplements.
Some breeders are now recommending against puppy food for giant breeds such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands and Irish Wolfhounds. Instead they are suggesting a diet solely of adult food. Their goal is to avoid such muscular/skeletal abnormalities as puppy carpal syndrome (accelerated bone growth) and hip dysplacia. Adult food, which is generally not as high-energy a meal as puppy chow, may temper growth. Several recent studies indicate that giant breeds overfed on puppy food are more likely to suffer hip dysplacia. Puppy food is certainly not the only potential cause of this ailment, which also has a certain genetic component.
Dogs fed exclusively adult chow may suffer from slowed or stunted growth if they don't receive the right amount of calcium and phosphorus. According to the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), too little calcium (less than 1 percent) may slow or stunt growth, and too much calcium (more than 2.5 percent) may advance the possibility of hip dysplacia or puppy carpal syndrome. The problem is that few products indicate the percent of calcium.
Consumers should look for a fat profile from 10 to 15 percent and a protein profile between 22 and 25 percent.
For giant breeds, the closer to 10 percent for fat and 22 percent for protein, the better. Most veterinary nutritionists now recommend a conservative puppy chow that isn't like jet fuel for larger breeds. Then, at four to six months of age -- sooner than many other breeds -- make the transition to the adult food. Also remember that most puppies don't have appetite control.
Most dogs remain on puppy food until they are 10 months old to just over a year old. If you notice that your dog is beginning to 'fill out' a bit too much, it's probably time to make the gradual shift to adult food. Consult your vet for the exact timing, which is dependent on the breed, amount of exercise the dog is getting and its individual metabolism.
Dogs do not crave variety as people do. Still, owners have been known to offer table scraps. At least make the scraps healthy tidbits like pieces of fresh or uncooked carrots or tomatoes. And don't offer those scraps at the dining room table unless you want to train your dog to beg.

Go ahead, make a homeless pet's day

Go ahead, make a homeless pet's day
In the third year of the four-year veterinary doctoral program at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana, students examine and then spay or neuter homeless animals from the Vermilion County and Champaign County humane societies.
These animals receive the royal treatment: a thorough exam, bath, nail trim, and lots of love. Dogs are screened for internal parasites and cats are tested for deadly viruses. Animals with tricky health problems even get the attention of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital's specialists. The program builds veterinary students' skills and assures healthy animals for adoption.
For many of the veterinary students, finding their surgery dog or cat a home is almost as important a task as the surgery. "Humane society animals probably have a good chance of getting adopted if they come to the vet school because so many students end up adopting them," says Kerri Hert, a third-year veterinary student. Hert didn't plan on adopting a dog, much less a 3-month-old black Labrador mix puppy. "I just fell in love with Nick, so I brought him home," she says. "You kind of want to give them all homes. It breaks your heart to see them go back."
"It is very satisfying knowing I saved an animal," says Laura Riordan, a student who adopted a Jack Russell terrier mix named Cherry from the Champaign County Humane Society. "I think it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to help find homes for pets, especially since human carelessness has brought about the tremendous number of homeless pets."
Lori Decker adopted Heineken, a golden retriever-shepherd mix. "Heineken knew how to sit, shake, and walk on a leash and was in great condition. I can't imagine how he ended up in the shelter, but I can't imagine my life without him either," says this veterinary student.
But many veterinary students' homes are already overflowing with critters. Last month, I adopted Paddington, a 2-year-old golden retriever from Vermilion County Humane Society. I took one look at him and knew he was coming home with me to be a part of my -- now --three-dog family. Other veterinary students have opened their homes to many more than three pets!
Veterinary students would love your help in finding good homes for the many lovable animals filling the kennels at humane societies. But before you decide to adopt a pet, make sure it is a lifetime partnership, not one that might land the pet right back where he started …homeless. Consider the financial and time commitment a pet will require, and be sure that all roommates, family members, and your landlord agree to a new pet.
Research the traits of breeds that interest you. Dogs were originally bred to do certain jobs: huskies pulled sleds, Dalmatians kept horses company while running with carriages, and Labradors helped hunt. If you are a couch potato, make sure you don't adopt a sled dog!
Also, don't overlook an older animal. They are often easygoing and mellow animals that still have years of love to provide. Ask the humane society volunteers about the temperament of the animals and decide which ones best suit your lifestyle.
Finally, if a dog wins your heart, enroll in a training class no matter how old the dog is. It is a great way to bond with your dog and to learn how to make the most of the relationship.
When you open your heart and home to one of the many homeless pets in a humane society, you not only save an animal from uncertain fate, but you gain a lifelong friend.

You can contact the Champaign County Humane Society in Urbana at 217-344-7297 or the Vermilion County Humane Society in Danville at 217-431-2660.
Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Friday, May 12, 2006

What you should know about PET adopting

Are dogs and cats in shelters healthy and well-adjusted?
Most shelters screen animals for serious health and behavior problems. Even with the best-behaved animal, however, you should expect to go through a period of adjustment as your pet becomes used to a new home, family, and routine. No animal, no matter where he comes from, will be completely free of health and behavior problems. But if you give your new family member some time, training, and patience, your reward will be a loving companion.

Are there requirements following the adoption of a dog or cat?
Yes! Most shelters require adopted animals to be spayed or neutered, either before they leave the shelter or within a specified period of time. Every animal companion must have regular veterinary care and be properly licensed. Be sure your dog or cat always wears a collar with an identification tag. Provide nutritious food and fresh water for your pet. Make time for exercise, training, and play. A companion animal brings rewards and responsibilities.

Do shelters have purebred animals?
The HSUS estimates that 25 percent of the animals in shelters nationwide are purebred. If you're interested in a specific breed, ask if your local shelter keeps a waiting list of people interested in purebred animals. Even if it does not, you may be able to find an animal that has traits that are similar to those of the breed you have in mind.

Aren't all shelter animals just secondhand pets?
Many shelter animals are puppies and kittens who will be starting their lives as companions. Many of the older dogs and cats had previous owners. While you may have to re-educate these animals to some degree, they already may have been housetrained and obedience-trained. Remember, companion animals are remarkably adaptable and have a boundless capacity for love. Just because they lived with someone else doesn't mean they wouldn't make a wonderful companion for you!

What's the best way to find an animal shelter?
Animal shelters are called by a variety of names, so look in the yellow pages of your phone book under such listings as animal shelter, humane society, or animal control. Public animal care and control agencies often are listed under the city or county health department or police department. An increasing number of shelters have Web sites, and many of them show pictures of animals available for adoption. Shelter policies and procedures may vary, but all shelters have animals waiting for loving homes.

Is it difficult to adopt from a shelter?
Every shelter has its own adoption policies. The best are designed to ensure that each animal is placed with a responsible person, someone prepared to make a lifelong commitment, and to avoid the kinds of problems that cause animals to be brought to a shelter. An important part of the adoption process is to match the lifestyle and needs of the adopter with the personality and behavior of the dog or cat. If this process seems overly strict, remember that the shelter's first priority is the animal.