Household Pets: Problems faced during Litter Box Training Not all owners are good trainers, but all of them do put in effort to discipline their pets and face certain challenges. The biggest problem is faced during litter box training. If there is a problem with the pet, it should be handled with care and the habit should be positively reinforced on it. Basically, the point is that the training method should be fun for the owner as well as for the pet. If the animal excretes outside the box, it meant that the pet has a disliking for the box. The disliking can happen if the litter box is small, unclean and filled with litter most of the times. The box should be cleaned regularly and disinfected; otherwise an unpleasant odor will fill the area. Care must be taken that disinfectant doesn't have a scented smell. If the smell is too scented or strong, the owners can switch to air fresheners and cleaners that have a mild smell. Another reason for disliking the litter box is because of its texture. Most of the pets like litters boxes not made out of hard clay but made out of a more fine grained, soft material. Any good pet store will have a wide range of litter box collection. The owners can choose the most suitable one depending on the nature of their pet. If there is adequate place at home, an alternative to the litter box can be found. A particular corner in your lawn can be filled with soil, sand or wood shavings. The wood shavings shouldn't be of coca husk or cedar as it can be harmful for the animal. Another good option for litter is laying down chicken feed. And if size is a problem with the pet, the owner should obviously get a bigger one. Usually the size preference will develop when the animal is growing big in size. Some animal have surface issues, that is, they prefer surfaces with a specific texture. The preferable surfaces are clothes, carpet, bed and anything soft along with using the litter box sometimes. Pets which have been declawed can also develop surface issues. For such animals, the litter box can be replaced with a towel. It would be lot better than the animal excreting in beddings and blankets. And if the animal has already soiled places other than the litter box, those places should be cleaned with an intense enzymatic odor remover, because if the animal smells its pee, it will be going to use the object or place again to pass. Pets can even have location preferences. In this case they won't care about the surface provided to them. This is a lesser problem, because the pet won't ignore the litter box and the litter box can be placed in his preferred location. Usually the reason behind this preference is because of the place being too cold or hot, or cut off or too busy but some places are unacceptable, as it can be unhygienic for the other family members and also that place will be filled with odor from the pets excreta. If the pet has a fancy to use a particular room, the owner can keep the door shut for that particular room. It should be denied access to that area. If the area is open, it can be disinfected by a very strong smelling cleaner. Commercial repellants meant especially for the pets are available in the market. Scat mats can also be used to cover up that area. Pets can be very fussy sometimes. Some won't like to urinate and excrete in the same litter box. If this is the case, they should be provided with two different boxes. Owners must try to reward the animal with food or toys, when it uses the litter box properly. This gives it more encouragement. Sometimes the animal can even have a urine marking problem. This condition can be successfully treated with the help of medicines. These medicines are used to alter the behavior of the animal. A good vet can be consulted in this regard. Even after all these efforts, if the pet still insists of using the same location for passing, an acrylic blanket which is easily washable can be sewn with a waterproof material at the other side and can be placed. Disposable housebreaking pads are also available at most of the pet stores. This is even easier as once it gets soiled it can be simply disposed. All you want to know about vaccinating your pets Timely vaccinations are very important part of pet's health. Different types of vaccine shots are to be given at different times. Some people are against vaccination and some are in favor of vaccination, but the assertion is that there are risks involved with both. A firm statement cannot be passed on a broader level, instead the rules vary from one individual animal to another depending on the needs and tolerance levels of the animal. There are certain factors based on which the decision must be taken. Young ones which have been separated from their mothers before six weeks and are bottle-fed are at a higher risk of getting diseases. This is because the animals, which feed on their mother's milk, get maternal antibodies, which protects them until their own immune system has been fully developed. The development of immune system can differ on the basis of amount and type of viruses they are getting exposed to, the potency of the virus and the body's ability to face the virus attack. Diet and nutrition also plays an important role in preventing diseases. Animals, which aren't exposed enough also needs to be vaccinated so as to alter the system and help develop it, without causing illness. The quantity is also important, because a little more virus can actually infest the disease in the animal. The amount can be determined by analyzing whether the animal has a weak or strong resistance to the virus. Age is also another important factor. Animals, which are older in age, react differently. One of the reasons is that the system will be obviously weaker because of the daily activities, when compared to the younger ones. Sine their immune system would have undergone different conditions; there could be a possibility of deposition of toxins in the body. Sometimes the healthier older animal won't be requiring vaccination at all if it has received adequate shots before. Before vaccinating an animal, its history should be checked. The number of times a particular vaccination has been given should be checked against the records. There are breeders who give a weekly dose of vaccination to their animal, which is for sure an over dose. This leads to many problems such as thickening of blood because of the protein complexes released from the immune system. This can also damage other internal organs and might even result in the failure of the immune system. In worst circumstances, it could even lead to the death of the animal. Pregnant females react differently to the vaccines when compared to their male and female counterparts. The pregnant females should never be injected with live virus vaccines or even exposed to other animals that have recently received them. Animals, which have been injected with dead-virus vaccines, are safe for the childbearing animal. Animals, which are already suffering from a disease, should be examined more carefully, so that the vaccination doesn't aggravate the problem. Genetics also plays an important role. If the animal stands a chance of getting a disease because of hereditary reason, vaccinations can create an adverse reaction. The environment also plays a major role. If the animal is kept in a sanitary and clean place, it is exposed to lesser viruses, which lowers it's chances of getting diseases. A dirtier environment not only spreads viruses and bacteria but also affects the immune system and other systems adversely as toxins begin to deposit in the body. The vaccination plan should be designed after analyzing the lifestyle of the animal. Another major reason for difference in the quantity of vaccination is the improvement in the vaccinations itself. They have become safer and more efficient. No tests have proved the affective period of the vaccinations. Every state and country has different regulations about vaccination. Vaccination testing cannot only risk the life of the animal, but as well as that of a human. For example, if a dog, which is being tested for rabies vaccination, bites a human, it can lead to the death of the human, in extreme circumstances. Many states in United States demand vaccination when owners try to get permit for exotic animals. The facility vet decided which vaccines should be given and which should be exempted for the safety of the animal. Leash Training for your Pets Initially pets don't like to be held by anything; exception can be when they are being fed they will allow to be held against. If they are held by force, they will retaliate by biting, spinning, clawing or jumping. One of the reasons can be that because they weren't used to such kind of affection, this alien action will actually scare them. Another reason can be because of the lack of trust; they won't let a stranger hold them. During this period of time it would also be difficult to put leash on the pet. They will be very restless and will try to get away. Adding to this, they will be quite young and playful. They will look at the harness as a hanging toy and will play with it. And even if the owner is successful in leashing his pet, there will be more challenges waiting ahead. When the animal feels the tug of the leash, it will jump, try to bite the leash or claw it, roll over its back, etc. In the beginning, the animal can feel short of breath, at such times, the animal should be given a break from walking. He should be also shown affection by patting its back or stroking its fur. It helps the pet to accept things more easily and early. With the progress of time, the number of breaks will decrease so will the struggle with the leash. But actually holding the animal in the arms will take a longer time than him getting trained to the leash. For this the pet should be lapped and held regularly. During the whole process, the owner can get bruises on his arms a lot. A prevention that can be taken is that the pet can be wrapped in a blanket and then held in the arms. The owner should let go till the animal completely until it calms down. After that it should be patted on its Frequent fondling and lapping of the animal should be done when it is young and small in size as the task will become almost impossible once it starts getting bigger. But once this initial bond is formed the next step would be to actually hold the animal when it is wearing the leash. Again there will be struggle, as the situation will be completely different. The pet should not be held tight by the hands, instead the leash should be held very near to the harness. After the animal gets tired and calms down, he should be released. By this the animal will learn that the only way of getting released is by holding still. After sometime, the pet won't struggle at all, when being held in arms wearing the leash. The time period of holding the pet can then be increased slowly. Leash training is very essential part of overall pet discipline. Also, since the animals have the natural instinct of roaming freely in the wild, they need to be taken out on regular walks, in order to maintain their physical balance. And when pets meet other strangers on the street, it should be trained not to get anxious. Also leash training helps in ensuring that the pet is not lost or stolen when you take it for a walk or to market. Operant Conditioning and Pet Training The species of the animals, their history, and their upbringing plays a vital role in personality development of the pet. The characteristic of a specific species cannot be generalized, although some habits can be common. It is therefore recommended that the characteristic of the individual animal should be studied before designing the training plan for it. But some basic principles can be applied along with the designed training plan. The training plan can be equipped with training equipments, reference training book, etc. Operant condition is the most important and basic thing to concentrate upon during training. Operant condition explains the effect of the training technique on the behavior of the animal. For example, the pet will understand that if he uses the litter box properly it will get a treat. And he can avoid a punishment by not jumping on a sleeping person in the middle of the night. A human learns that if he works hard, he will be able to get good grades and if he touches the flame of a burning candle he will burn himself. All these are example of the outcome of operant conditioning. The categories of operant conditioning are reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcement is the repeated force of behavior out of the animal using something. They are repetitive behavior, which can be positive or negative. Punishment is the consequence of a bad behavior, which shouldn't be repeated again. Punishments can be either negative or positive, but they help to decrease the repetition of the behavior. They can be further divided as positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement and negative punishment. Good behaviors are behaviors, which should be repeated again and again. And the result of the good behavior should also be good, which is known as a reward. For example, if the dog does an expected action upon hearing the command, it knows that it will get a treat as a reward in return. If the animal doesn't pounce on the human and instead pounces on the toy, it should be rewarded with a pat or a hug. All these are known as positive enforcements. Negative enforcements are repeated behaviors, which will stop something bad or which will help in getting rid of something. This term should not be confused with punishment. For example, if a dog is trained to bark upon sighting a stranger in the house, it will make the intruder run away, this is negative enforcement. The subject does something so as to stop the occurrence of something unpleasant. Positive punishment is given when the animal does something bad very rarely which results in something undesirable. Since the animal is punished, the animal will learn from it and there will be lesser chance of repetition. For example, if the puppy is sprayed with water when it pounces on the human, this is positive punishment. The puppy will foresee the punishment before pouncing again. When the animal does something and something good is snatched away from it, this is known as negative punishment. For example if the dog tries to snatch the food right out of the hand of the owner, it will not get any food. These basic principles depict the learning traits of the animals. Based on these training techniques are developed. The owners can develop unique training programs for each of their pets, individually. How Do Dogs Communicate? Dogs are one of the intelligent animals among the domestic pets. They have the ability to communicate with humans, other dogs and even other animals. They do this by using body signs and different vocals. The signs are made with the help of body movement involving eyes, ears, eyebrows, head, mouth and tail. Different vocals include barks, howls, growls, whimpers and whines. Dogs do gestures whose meaning can change depending on the situation. Like if a dog pants, it can mean that the dog is feeling hot or the dog is happy or anxious. Confident and higher ranked dogs have a high held tail. Dogs have the feeling of submission and dominance in them. This is because the dogs live in packs, in the wild. They have hierarchy within the group. The weaker dogs submit themselves to the stronger dog. That is the reason why dogs lower their tail when they feel insecure. When the dogs fight for dominance, the fur on their tail stands up. They and even other animals, do this to increase their size in front of their enemy. When the dog is in a confused situation, it wags its tail slowly. They are in a process of figuring out whether they should accept the situation or time or else, they have still not accepted the situation completely, but are in the process. Excited dogs wag their tails very fast. If the hip moves along with the tail, it means the dog is ready for submission to a dog of higher rank. When the dogs get aggressive they show their fangs. If the teeth are visible, it indicates that the dog is ready to bite or attack. They also show teeth when they smile and this is an indication of submissiveness. Observing the number of teeth on display can differentiate a smile. Smile reveals only the front teeth, but when the dog snarls, all his teeth and gums can be seen. Ears are good indication about the attention levels of the dog. When the ears are erect and forward facing, means the dog is concentrating. But when the dog fears something, it lays down its ears. Some dogs hold the ears in forward and horizontal direction when they are happy. In majority of the cases, barking is done to scare away stranger and to make the owner aware of an intruder. They also tend to bark while they are playing. They use to even convey emotions such as pleasure, fear, stress and suspicion. When the dog is excited or is playing, the barks are sharp and short. When they are stressed out or anxious, they bark repeatedly in a high pitch tone. They also bark to communicate with other animals such as cat, deer, squirrel, fox and other dogs. But the sound of barking is different. Growling is done to threaten or to show superiority. Dogs howl when they make long-range communication. A dog yawns when it is bored and needs to be left alone. It also yawns when it is sleepy, stressed out or confused. When the dog pants with a full open mouth, it is happy. When it pants with a slightly open mouth, it needs to be played with. Dogs lift one forelimb up, when it wants to play. It will stamp its front limbs when it is excited. They scratch objects they want. Domestic dogs are trained for handshake, like human beings. They hold out a paw forward and exchange a handshake. If the dog tilts it's head in a particular direction, it means that it is trying to concentrate and recognize an unfamiliar sound. Dog Shows Dog shows, breed shows or conformation shows are competitions where the judges examine dogs of a specific breed or sometimes dogs of all breeds, to see whether it meets the breed standards or not. Kennel clubs and breed clubs conduct such kinds of shows. Shows where only specific breeds are examined are known as specialty show. The standards are set prior to the show by the judges of the show. During the show, they choose dogs, which match the set standards. This task is extremely difficult because the judgments made should be completely subjective. Not only is one dog compared with the other, but the comparison of the dog to the judge's image of an ideal dog which meet the breed standard almost perfectly. The objective of each dog show is to select a winner dog, which matches the breed standards. The breed standard is jotted down in a long list, which is called a conformation point. All the judges get together and frame the conformation point. Conformation point can vary from one competition to another, but there are certain requirements that are general. The fur is the most important factor. The pet's color, pattern, length, type and quality are observed carefully. The distribution, quality and quantity of the markings are observed. Healthy skin with no pigmentation is also one of the important criterions. The shape and color of the head is also taken into consideration. The general attitude and temperament is noted down for each breed of dogs. The jaw-line and the structure of the teeth and how they align when the jaw is closed are compared. Shape and color of the eyes and shape and set of the ears are observed. The sizes and the ratio of the length and height are also compared. The style of walking and gait is compared. The shape of the tail and feet are closely observed. The dogs, which enter such competition, should be well groomed. Some even check for skin wrinkles and measure the flews. The name of each participating dog should be registered. Every dog's name is attached with the breeder's kennel name. Every dog can have a registered name as well as a call name. The kennel club uses the registered name and the owner to refer to the pet uses the call name. There are many dog shows conducted on various levels. There are local shows and national shows, which attract competitors from different parts of the country. Usually dog shows are hierarchical competitions. The winners earn certain points in each show and each level, which makes them eligible for the next show. And the dog which wins shows that are at the highest level is declared as a champion. 'Ch.', for example Ch. Tony, appends the dog's name. Such shows are called as prestigious shows. These shows allow pets, which have already won championship in other shows. These shows aim to choose the best in the breed. Such shows make the reputation of the dog, breeder and kennel higher. The price of the puppies of that particular dog is sold for a surprisingly high price. This is because other people want to buy a pet, which resembles the champion. The popularity of the breed increases rapidly. There are two such prestigious shows, The Crufts in the United Kingdom and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in the United States. Keeping Cats as Pets Cats are low maintenance pets when compared to many other domestic pets. They are also attention seekers. They like to get lots of affection from their owners. If all the family members work full time, another cat should be brought in the family so as to provide company for the first one. Especially, young cats should not be left alone for long periods as that will affect the psychological growth of animal. Cats can also get bored easily. They always want a companion to play with. Cats should be left outside. They are very inquisitive by nature and like to wander outdoors. Cats, which are kept indoors, develop obesity and tend to eat more out of boredom. But according to a research, cats that are kept indoors all their life have a longer life span. This is because they are not at all exposed to germs, dogs, cars, or other cats, which can harm them when living in wild habitat. Cats shouldn't be let out unsupervised. Before doing so, the dangers should be evaluated. Some cats even go into the neighbor's plot and dig out soil or flowerpots. They can even litter and the owner can be fined for that. Cats that are allowed outside frequently should be checked regularly for any injuries or scratches. They can even receive bites from stray cats, if they get into a fight. The injuries should be treated immediately otherwise the infection can spread to other areas of the body and become dangerous. Cats, which have been declawed or have some kind of disability, should never be allowed to go outside alone. An individual should always accompany the cat, since they have lost their weapons of natural defense, they cannot protect themselves in case of an attack. Cats are carnivorous and need high amount of proteins that too from meat. Commercial food is available in the market, which can be given to the cat, with consultation from a veterinary. There are many diets designed for them depending on the needs of the individual cat. Along with food, water should be available to them all the time. Cats that have long hair need to be groomed everyday to avoid the hair getting matted. Cats with short hair can be brushed once a week to remove shedding hair. Before a cat is bought as pet, they should be vaccinated and neutered. Cats that aren't neutered show some behavioral problems. Cats that are weaned are the best choice. But cats that are as young as one day or one month old should be cared off otherwise their health will be endangered. The young ones need to be fed every four hours and should be kept warm. Cats whether big or small are fond of warmth and that is the reason why they cuddle up and sleep. The kitten must be taken to the vet when it turns two weeks old. They should be given their first shots and even checked for parasites. Booster shots should be given to them from time to time. Litter box training can be given to them when they grow two weeks old, because young cats learn really fast and easily. A small box can be filled with litter at first. Whenever the kitten starts scratching the surface, it can be left in the box and that is how it will understand that it has to use the litter box when nature call comes. A problem for many of the cat owners is that they scratch the furniture around the house. They do it to sharpen their claws and they even react to the owner's scent coming from the furniture. The cats, which are made to stay indoors most of the times, develop this problem as the cats which live outdoors most of the time can claw on tree bark, fence, etc. Cats that have this problem can be provided with a scratching post or even with a log of wood. Cats get really attached to the family members. The more it is fondled and played with, the easier it is train, put in crate, give medicines, etc. Declawing Cats Declawing is a surgical procedure involving removal of claws and should not be mistaken for pedicure. Declawing puts the pet in great pain not only during the surgery but also after it. Although it is practiced widely in many countries, it is still considered as an unnecessary mutilation and is illegal in some countries. Another drawback is that this surgical procedure isn't reversible. Before getting this surgery, owners should understand many aspects of it. The claw is very different from a toenail as it is attached to the bone. The last bone and the joint are removed along with the claw, during declawing. Nature has designed the body in a way such that everything is used to balance its movement, agility and grace. The main purpose of claws is to defend an enemy and to get proper grip while walking. By amputating the joint, the whole walk is altered. Other than walking, even other behaviors like eating, hunting, grip, etc. also gets changed. They can no longer enjoy climbing trees and tall objects which also means that they cannot jump from heights. Declawing changes the life of a cat. Some owners have even sworn that the whole personality of the animal is changed after the procedure. Although medical science hasn't reported any side effects, but there are physical and emotional complications in the animal. The recovery is also full of pain and the pet can aggravate the situation by walking and scratching the litter box. Unlike other animals that walk on their paws, cats step on their toes. And when the last bone and joint are imputed, the animal steps on its hind quarter, which can make them lose balance. The shift of weight can also affect the front quarter muscles. The imbalance can be very disturbing for the cat. Some cats even develop secondary contracture of the tendons. Claws are the primary defense for animals. When they loose the claws, they do not go outside a lot because of the possible threats and the feeling of insecurity. And even if they do, there are chances that they will hurt themselves or even get lost. It will develop a tendency of biting. It can get distressed and not only bite strangers but also familiar people and even owners. As a natural instinct, cats have a tendency to scratch after they pass urine or stool. When the claws are missing, they get an uneasy feeling, making them to pass on rugs, soft furniture and filling the house with odor. Another thing which actually aids this habit is the fact that it experiences pain when it scratches the hard litter box, so it will choose to do it on a softer surface. There are many options to declawing. Firstly, the owner should understand that scratching is a natural instinct of cats. The act of scratching is nothing but exercise for the animal. It exercises the front quarter muscles and they also gain pleasure out of the whole act. Nail caps are available in the market, which need to be filled with adhesive and slipped on the claw. The structure of these nail caps is very soft and animals can hardly feel the foreign object. The home furniture can be saved from further cat scratches. The claws can also be trimmed, but it should be done carefully. Only the tips should be clipped and not the whole claw especially the opaque part, as those are the tissues and cutting them can lead to bleeding and pain. In the market, many different types of nail trimmers are available depending on the animal and its size. Before trimming the claws, the animal must be made comfortable by massaging its paws so as to not to raise suspicion. Also the animal can be provided with a scratching post and there are many options available at the local pet stores. But the animal should be trained to use it and it should be done from an early age. Usually animals like rough surfaces which it can shred to pieces. A tree stump can do a great job, but scratch posts are available with a familiar texture. Insurance for Pets Insurance is taken for pets to cut down on the veterinary costs, especially in case of an accident or when the pet is ill. Other than this, insurance is also available to pay incase the animal is stolen, lost or dead. Insurance is a must, especially in a situation where the condition is serious and the money is less. Such unexpected conditions are known as economic euthanasia. Veterinary expenditure is extremely huge and the bill is really big which might not be easy to pay. Since pets are being adopted on a large scale and the cost of veterinary medicine are increasing by the day, more and more pet owners are now opting for pet insurance. There are insurances with different policies and schemes. Some of them pay the complete amount, while the others pay a partial amount. In the United Kingdom, majority of the pet insurance pay the complete amount and in United States, pet insurances pay only eighty percent of the fees. In case of an injury or illness, apart from taking care of vet fees, other expenses such as prescription medicines, surgery, and lab tests are also dealt with. Usually, the pet owners pay the vets their fees and then send a claim form to the insurance company, who then sends back the reimbursed amount. But if the bill is very big, some vets also give the leniency of paying the fees after the money has been claimed from the insurance company. Some insurance companies have policies wherein the vet is paid directly, if it is according to the vet agreement. Such types of pet insurance are known as Direct Line Pet Insurance. Most of the pet insurances do not pay for preventative veterinary care and elective veterinary care, for example vaccination, neutering and declawing. They pay for unseen costs and these costs are already known in advance. But now some insurance policies are reimbursing for routine care treatments such as annual teeth cleaning. Insurance cannot be also bought for an already existing medical condition. If the pet is already sick, the insurance policy will certainly not cover it. So the best time to buy a pet insurance for the animal is when it is young and free of any kind of illness. Other than health issues, pet insurances exists which give money for boarding cost. In case, if the animal is lost, the insurance company pays for finding the animal as well as it pays for the reward after the pet has been found. Some insurance policies even pay money if the owner has cancelled a trip because of the pet's ill health or if the pet has died. Third party liability insurance is also available. Suppose if the pet is the reason of a car accident, in which one car damages other car, insurance companies do pay for the repair of the damage car. Global Pet Insurance is tailored pet insurance plan, where the pet owner can select desirable plans. Every insurance company has a different plan. Before deciding over a particular insurance policy, all the other available policies in the market should be studied carefully. Some policies give a list of selected vets, while others give the freedom of choosing any vet from the trade. Pet insurance can be bought for dogs, cats, birds, apes and many other exotic animals. Choosing a Pet Sitter Pet sitters are like baby sitters, who are employed to take care of a pet within the home. Usually, pet owners hire them on a contract basis when they go out on vacations. They can also be employed for a short duration like for an evening. The advantage of hiring a pet sitter is that the pet is taken care of within its environment. The problem faced by segregating the pet out of its environment is that they become stressed out. In case of travelling before reaching the new owner they can also experience travel trauma. Vaccinations are administered to the pet after studying their lifestyle. Chances are that they can become ill because of exposure to parasites, as that situation wasn't considered during the time of vaccination. It is a very good idea to conduct a pet sitter interview, before hiring them for the job. The interview can be arranged on phone or in person. It is better if the interview is taken at home as the ability of the pet sitter can be tested with the pet. The pet sitters should be qualified and must have completed an educational coursework. The coursework should include pet care, nutrition and health along with business and office procedures. It is a bonus if they have taken care of animals similar to the pet you have before because not all pet sitters can take care of all types of pets. Every pet sitter is specialized with certain types of pets. It is very rare that a pet sitter has knowledge about all kinds of pets. They should have good experience in the pet care industry. The pet sitter should also be insured or bonded in case of accidents. The insurance card and coverage should be checked out for this purpose. They can even be asked for references. The pet owners, whom they have worked with earlier can provide clear picture. The payment terms should also be discussed beforehand. The pet sitter looks after the food and water needs of the animal. They maintain the normal routine of the animal. They also give medicines to the pet, if it is on medication. Some even provide special services such as injecting insulin; administering subcutaneous fluids, and checking blood pressure and glucose levels. In such cases, the knowledge of the pet sitter should be assessed with the vet of the pet. Some pet sitters also provide pet walking services. This service is availed by people who are old or are having some kind of disability and are not able to provide the adequate exercise to their pet. They also drive the pet to the vet, groomer or trainer. Pet sitters also pick up pet supplies such as food and medicines. All the additional services are optional and not provided by all pet sitters. They also play with the pet and maintain the litter box. Pets such as dogs, cats, snakes, rabbits, ferrets, lizards, guinea pig, fish, and hamsters can be having a complete stranger also as a pet sitter. But some of the exotic animals are very fussy and shy. They accept pet sitters whom they are familiar with. In such cases, pet owners must try to develop familiarity between the pet and the pet sitter beforehand, in their presence. The most common method of bonding with the animal is by bottle feeding them. After the initial bond is formed, the pet can be left alone with the baby sitter. Selecting a Vet for your Pet The best proven method to select a veterinarian is to visit one and then decide. A prior appointment should be taken and the staff should be informed before bringing the pet along. A little bit of information can be also taken on the phone about the profile of the veterinarian. The owner can even ask to talk with the veterinarian directly, and if he is busy doing a surgery, a message can be left to contact back. Another good method is to consult other friends who are pet owners. Since they will already be having more experience in this regard, they can be of good help. If there isn't familiarity with such people the local humane society, catteries and kennels can be contacted. Sometimes the price can be a problem for many people. Such people can approach veterinarians who are working in a blue collar locality. Veterinarians are people who usually are very compassionate about pets. But some of them can lack communication skills in spite of being highly qualified, but they still will be specialized in their fields. A good veterinarian would stand close to the owner, like less than three feet. He will maintain constant eye contact and will address the pet by its name. While talking, he will smile and run his fingers through the fur of the pet. Disinterest and hurrying to finish the examination are bad indications. And if the veterinarian is really busy, it is better to opt for a veterinarian who can give more time. The interiors of the office are another clue about the veterinarian's nature. The office should be clean and odor free. The waiting room can also give lots of input about the vet. Flyers and displays can divulge whether the veterinarian is part of any community and social organizations. Notices which say that payment is supposed to be paid after examination and fine will be placed if appointment is not cancelled before hand aren't good indications. In the examination room, the equipments and instruments should be disinfected and organized neatly. The selection of staff also should be observed as the veterinarian will select staff which has similar nature as his. If the receptionist doesn't talks well, so will the veterinarian. Not only should the talking be good, but she should have a good attitude. She should look up when a person enters the room and give him a smile. Her telephone conversation can also say a lot of things. The number of staff members should also be considered. If there is a larger staff, it shows that the veterinarian is really busy and cannot give adequate time to the owner and his pet. After the veterinarian is chosen, the next step should be bond creation. Appointments can be taken for routine physical examination which can give time to interact with the veterinarian and knows about the pet in depth. Emergency visit leaves very little time for in depth communication. It is always recommended to bring in only one pet at a time and not the whole lot. Otherwise, the veterinarian won't be able to give individual and detailed attention to one animal. Mornings are the best time to get appointments as the veterinarian will be having lots of free time on hand with less number of patients to see at that time. Another thing to be kept in mind is that a family member should accompany the pet who is more informed and usually makes visits to the veterinarian. He or she should be familiar with the history of the animal; otherwise it can create great confusion. This family member can maintain his own personal log and can note down questions about the pet prior to the appointment. Before going ahead with the treatment, the estimated cost should be discussed with the staff and the vet. It is a very good idea to get the pet examined by the vet before deciding to buy it. Appointment can be made with the vet and seller. The vet can not only determine the health conditions, but also the nature of the pet. This is a great help which can facilitate owner's decision. Sports Pet Many animals are adopted and trained for the purpose of participating in sports. The animal can be completely or partially involved in the sport they are trained for. The most popular sports animals are dogs and horses. Some sports called the blood sports also exist which are very harsh and they put the life of the animal at risk. Many organizations are against such kind of cruelty and also it is against the law in many countries. Animals were first domesticated for the purpose of hunting in the beginning. This necessity later turned into a sport, but the animals were still involved. This sport was meant for the rich people and the royal family, in the medieval period. Hunters rode horses and dogs accompanied them. The sport was sometimes dangerous when lions and other exotic animals were hunted. While the horses chased the animal, the dogs and hounds were trained to actually attack the animal. But now hunting is banned in almost all the countries. The most common sports involving pets is horse riding. In some events a human rider mounts the horse and in others the horse competes without the human being. This modern sport is a derivative of the chariot race which was held in the Roman and ancient Greek times. Dogsled racing is another racing event involving dogs. It is a timed winter sport, where dogs are tied to sledges, which pull it, while the driver stands on the sledge. They need to run on a marked course and whichever team finishes first is declared as the winner. Greyhound racing is also another animal sport. Actually, in the 1800s, greyhounds were brought from Europe to the United States to control the increasing hare population. Breeders then thought of involving this animal in racing and hence, this was how greyhound racing started. Also, there are camel races involving camels. But this race is sometimes objected because the riders in such races are small kids. Pigeon racing is a not so popular sport, involving trained racing pigeons. The pigeons are taken away from their loft and then they are made to race. Whoever reaches the home first wins the race. Beatle races are also popular in Asia. Jousting sport was developed in the fourteen century, where knights ride on the back of the horse and compete with each other. Horses are also trained for the sport polo. There are two teams, which compete with each other. The competitor rides the horse and at the same time hits the ball with the help of mallets. The team, which makes the highest score, is the winning team. As the start of the twentieth century, polo involved elephants and it was considered as a royal sport back then. Pole bending involves a horse and a horse rider. The horse has to run on a serpentine path, which has six poles in one line. If the horse knocks down any of the pole, the rider and the horse are immediately disqualified. Show jumping also involves horses. The horse has to jump over fences with the jockey on their back. Horse ballet is another sport involving horses. Dogs are given training to participate in sports such as dog agility, and sheepdog trails. Dogs also participate in dog shows. It is a competition where dogs of certain breed compete with each other. Things such as looks, intelligence, grace, etc, of the individual dog are considered. Sports involving animals, which are cruel are bullfighting, camel wrestling, cockfighting, and cow fighting. Mellowing down a Wild Pet Orphaned animals which have been rescued from the wild will have wild natural instincts, no matter what their age is. Even when they play, it's rough which involves lots of biting and clawing. The same is true with exotic pets. They will have a more wild side when compared to the domestic ones. It would be unfair to generalize this principle for all, but it is true in most of the cases. The biggest challenge faced by the new owner will be limit the usage of teeth and claws by the pet. Teeth are the more dangerous of the two, because wild and exotic pets bite really hard, even while playing, until they aren't given proper training. Even if the owner tries to pat the pet, it will show its affection by biting. The owner must not consider this act as an aggressive one, but it should be amended in early stages otherwise this habit will turn into a permanent one. The owner must never consider declawing, defanging as the first resort or even as the last resort. The pet undergoes a lot of pain during and after the surgery. Many owners swear that their pets had undergone total personality change after declawing. They also turn violent as their means of natural defense is lost. And no quantity and quality of training can undo this negativity. Also, it certainly doesn't mean that the animal will not bite after its canines have been removed. Even after defanging the animal, it can still bite and hurt with its molars. A very easy and recognized method is slightly tapping on the nose of the pet when it bites really hard. But this won't apply to all and worst of all it can even encourage the animal to bite even more. They take it as a challenge and make more rough play. It will back off for a while and then sneak attack. But it does work for some pet owners and above all there is no harm in practicing this technique. It should only be practiced till the positive outcome is achieved. If negative results begin to come, the practice should be stopped immediately. Whenever the pet bites, hold that body part still. This will bore the cat and it will treat it like a toy to play with. When the pet prepares to attack, another easier thing which can be done is raising up the hands. The pet will bounce off and will give up at some time, seeing the disinterest of the person. But it would be a mistake to over react to the situation like making noises, yelling or pushing the pet. The pet will assume that the person is enjoying the play and participating in the act and will increase its enthusiasm even more. Animals play rough games and getting a rough response from the owner makes them assume that they are participating in their rough act. Other tactics like pinning down the pet or grabbing will just aggravate the pet's wild habits. Biting can also be stopped by giving a toy to the animal which they can chew upon instead of hurting the family members by pouncing on and biting them. Most of them like toys which are squishy, rubbery, soft and easily chewable. The toy can then be tied to a rope and wiggled and the animal cannot only pounce on it but also chew it. The toy can be carried along all the time and when the pet prepares to attack any family member, the toy can be wiggled at him and he will pounce on the toy instead. But extra care to be taken in this regard is that some animals can tear up the toy and eat it. Those pieces can block up their intestines which can make them ill and sometimes might even lead to death. The animal will sometimes vomit or excrete the foreign objects, but sometimes it will require an expensive surgery. Pets should be constantly supervised when they are playing with toys.
Giving Crate Training to your Pet Crate training can be very difficult as the first feeling of the pet towards it will be loathsome. One of the reasons is that the animal's movement becomes very restricted. Pets which are kept in a crate, will also find it difficult as the size will be even more limited when compared to the cage. Things will be even more complicated for pets which are habituated to roam freely in the home and as well as outside, like in a back yard. In this case, experts suggest classical conditioning. This approach consists of counter-conditioning and desensitizing. The cat must be made familiar with the environment within the crate. This is known as desensitization. And to alter the pet's negative attitude to a positive one is known as counter-conditioning. A very simple method is to place the crate in or near the pet's living quarters. At meal time, the food must be placed inside the crate, so that the pet will go inside the crate to eat the food. If the pet seems hesitant, the door of the crate can be left open with the food placed inside the crate. There are chances that the animal will go inside and eat it after some time. And if the pet doesn't eat food even after many hours, the owner must remove the food from the crate and feed the pet near the crate. Gradually the distance between the crate and the food must be decreased, finally till the pet starts eating the food inside the crate. Also when the animal starts entering the crate willingly, the care taker must try to use a cue word when he places the food inside the crate. Words such as 'crate', 'food' or 'come in' can be used while opening the door of the crate to place the food inside. The pet can get scared that the owner might lock him up if it enters the crate. If this is the case, the owner, after placing the food within the crate, should leave that area and go far away. This way the pet will feel safer and comfortable to approach the crate. Once the pet gets habituated to eat within the crate, the owner must try to come closer at least by a foot every week, till he can stand near the crate. After the pet gets adjusted to all these, the next big step is to shut the door of the crate, not altogether but for just a short period of time. Once the animal gets familiar with this, place only small quantity of food inside the crate and make him enter the crate in the presence of the owner. After it enters the crate, the door must be locked with the pet inside. When the pet finishes the food which was placed inside the crate, the rest of the food must be fed through the crate bars. The pet will not only feel comfortable about entering the crate but also being locked within it. In the beginning the food must be fed immediately through the bars, at once. Then the food should be divided and time gap should be given in between each feeding session. The gap should be at least of five minutes or even more. The pet can sometimes but very rare have a grudge against the material or size of the crate. In such cases, the crate must simply be replaced with the choice of the pet. Once the pet gets trained with food, it can also be provided with toys inside the crate. The owner can use a toy to lead the pet near and then inside the crate. Pet Training and Classical Conditioning The science of associating something with an activity is known as classical conditioning. The best example is the experiment conducted by Pavlov. Whenever he served food to his dog, he used to ring a bell. In the beginning, the dog used to salivate by looking at the food. Later he began associating the bell with the food and at a point of time, he used to salivate at the sound of the bell. This doesn't mean that the actual noise of the ringing bell made him salivate. The dog associated the ringing of the bell with the food and that food or even the thought of it made him salivate. Classical conditioning cannot actually make the dog to sit or jump at the command, but it does change the way the pet feels about a particular situation in which it is right now. Classical conditioning gives explanation about the behavior relating to a particular place, object or event. It explains how the emotional response is developed. The responses can be developed in the animal either wontedly or by chance. Also the trainer must remember that the change in the behavior is irreversible most of the times. One of the most common behaviors dealt with in conditioned emotional response is fear. The fear can be instinctive, learned or unknown. For example, if a cat gets scared upon seeing a dog, this is instinctive fear. If the cat backs off upon seeing a raised hand, this is learned fear. This can happen in the case of an abused cat. If there is fear because of lack of exposure to a particular situation before, this is known as fear of unknown. The conditioned emotional responses, which are dislikeable, can be reduced with the help of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning further has two concepts namely desensitization and counter-conditioning. Desensitization is reducing the sensitivity of the animal towards a particular unavoidable situation. The bad situation is created again and again until the animal becomes insensitive or doesn't feel about it any more. For example, if the animal is given crate training, it is locked inside the crate again and again, till he gets used to staying locked inside the cage. In counter-conditioning the animal is exposed to a lower degree of extremity. The intensity is less and as well a positive thing is presented to the animal. By doing this pet begins to like the nasty situation. The pet is made to respond in such a way, which contradicts the current or previous reaction. For example, a pet doesn't like to be locked up in the crate all the time. But this undesirable situation can be made to look pleasant if the pet is fed with a treat from time to time as long as it stays calmly inside the cage. Negative counter conditioning is another technique, but it is used very rarely. For example, if the cat likes to bite the hand of the owner very frequently, the person can rub something distasteful on the hand. When the animal bites the hand, it will taste the distasteful substance and then associate the bad taste with the hand and will not bite again, if done repeatedly. Classical conditioning is used to alter the way of reaction of the animal in a particular situation. With classical conditioning it can be made to like an unpleasant situation and even dislike a pleasant condition. Pet Allergies and their Causes People can become allergic to pets because of proteins from animal hair, urine or saliva. Pets which can cause allergies are dogs, cats, chicken, mice, rats, cows, horses, hamsters, guinea pig and birds. Allergic reaction can attack the respiratory system, eyes which can result in hay fever, urticaria, asthmatic symptoms, eye symptoms or eczema. Hay fever makes the patient develop itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezes. Asthmatic symptoms are wheezing, prolonged expiration, rapid breathing, over inflated chest, and fast heart rate. Urticaria, nettle rash, hives or uredo is a skin condition where the skin develops raised red welts. They can appear on any part of the body. The welt can badly itch, burn or even sting. Eye symptoms include watering and itching of the eyes. Eczema or atopic dermatitis is an atopic skin disease. Young children are more prone to getting this disease. The skin becomes hypersensitive when the allergens touch the body parts and becomes flaky and starts itching very badly. It also turns red and can also get further affected with bacteria. Allergens from pets are proteins. They either contact the skin directly or also by breathing in. This contact triggers an allergic reaction and makes the body to produce histamine. This histamine irritates and swells the airways, which results in asthmatic symptoms and hay fever. The condition can worsen if the person is exposed to tobacco smoke, polluted air, car fumes or environmental allergens. Some people can also be allergic to the food the pet eats. The allergy worsens when asthma worsens; symptoms include insomnia, cold, and ear infections. The allergens come from direct contact with an animal, or even from people who have been in direct contact with the animal. In most of the cases, people are allergic to pet because of hereditary reasons. Also kids having asthmatic bronchitis and which grow with pets such as cats are more prone to be allergic to cats as adults. Furless cats produce low allergens. People allergic to pets should be extra careful when renting a new house. There can be a possibility that the previous occupants have had pets. The allergens present in the environment can trigger allergic reactions and it will take more than a year to reduce the effect of the pet allergens. If a person suspects allergic reactions because of pet allergens, they can test it by staying away from home for more than two weeks. If the symptoms still continue, pet allergens aren't responsible. Also a doctor should be contacted immediately who can conduct test and diagnose the condition. Blood and skin tests should be taken to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor can then prescribe medicine for controlling the allergy. Patients can also take vaccination against the allergen. Pet owners should also participate to help other people with pet allergies. They should bathe their pets regularly. They should be dried completely after that. Researches have proved that monthly baths decreases the pet allergens in the house. Guinea pigs and rabbits have allergens in their urine. These animals should be shifted outside, if they have been living within the house. Anti-allergen filters are also available in the market which helps to purify the air of allergens. Pets should be strictly kept out of bedrooms so as to not to be become pet allergen carriers, pet owner's can wash their hands soon after contact with the animal. Household Pets: Peafowl Peafowl belongs to the Phasianidae Pheasant family. There are two species of peafowl, the Green Peafowl and The Indian Peafowl. The Green peafowl is native to Myanmar, Thailand, and China and the Indian Peafowl or blue peafowl is native to India. The males, called Peacock, especially are famous for their glamorous tail and the crown on their head. The females are known as Peahen and are grey and brown in color. Green peafowl are on the verge of extinction because of the massive hunting and depletion of their natural habitat. They further have three subspecies called P. M. muticus, P. M. imperator and P. muticus. Some breeders say that there are more subspecies of Green Peafowl. Green fowls are more expensive as they are not available on a large scale and they are very temperature sensitive. The Indian peafowl are hardy and are less expensive. They are also famous with breeders and are also found in North America. When in full plumage, the tail of the peacock is a beautiful sight. It does this to attract females and they also call out to the female in a unique vocal. The feathers of the peacock are sold all over the world. The bird is also fancied for its meat. But when turkeys were domesticated for meat, peacocks were only kept as pets. They were kept as pets first in China and after few years in Europe, as exotic pets. Peacocks have been symbol of pride and gook luck for many. Pet owners who have bought the peahen just because of their display of their beautiful tail, they should certainly pair it with a peahen. In only that case they will spread the tail. Peacock has a plumage or train which is green or blue green colored. The Green peafowl have a plumage of more brilliant green and golden color, but the upper feathers are short. The upper feathers are very elongated and there are series of eyes which look very beautiful when the tail is fanned. Peafowl are very easily to maintain. They do not develop diseases easily because they have natural resistance to many diseases. But peafowl certainly cannot be kept in extreme temperatures like below zero. They are habituated to live in temperate climates. They should also be saved from extreme heat exhaustion in hot months. Peafowl are omnivorous and feed on mixed grains, flowers, green leafy vegetables, and game bird crumbles. In the wild peafowl are known to hunt and eat insects, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. When on a healthy diet they can live for many years. They usually are allowed to roam in an open garden. For a healthier breeding, they should be given freedom of movement. They can be even kept in pens with closed tops. In captivity, they need lots of room to roam about, which is a kind of exercise for them. Another reason is that they are inquisitive pets, so they need lots of space to kill their curiosity. The pen can have facilities for warming and it should be insulated, incase if temperature drop. Peafowl should be left on their own with minimum human interference. They can be mixed with other poultry as they are very safe pets. They do not attack any bird, animal or human. But cats and dogs can attack the peafowl. Peahen nests on the ground, although they stay on low raised braches most of their lives. Peahens take care of the peachicks for only sometime after which they drive them away. The peachicks can then be brought up in an electric brooder like any other poultry. Because of their hardiness and intelligence, when compared to other bird pets, they are very easy to be bred and raised. Peafowl are also known as urban guard dogs because they make warning cries when they see strangers approaching the premises. But their high pitched vocals can sometimes be disturbing in a closely inhabited area. Pets for Seniors and Physically Handicapped As people get too old, they find it difficult to even do daily chores at home. Such people especially, require a helping hand. Animals can be trained to become great domestic help. Along with helping they also can provide great companionship. The most preferable pets are dogs. Cats are kept as pets to provide company to people like senior citizens who are stressed out or are heart patients, blood pressure patients, so as to help them beat stress. Even exotic pets such as capuchin monkeys are trained for this purpose. Not only are they big help for senior citizens but as well as for the physically handicapped such as blind people and quadriplegics. Service dogs are dogs are specially trained dogs for patients with disabilities. The hearing dog is a special kind of service dog which are trained to help the hearing impaired and deaf people. They help by alerting the disabled when it hears important sounds such as phone rings, doorbells, alarm clocks and smoke alarms. They are of great help not only within the house, but also outdoors. They alert the handler when someone calls out the person's name, approaching sirens, and forklifts. Hearing dogs can be recognized by the bright orange leash and collar they are made to wear. Sometimes they even wear a jacket or a cape which can be of any color. Some service dogs are also trained as mobility assistance dog to help a physically handicapped person. They are trained to open and close doors, pick up things, and even turn on and off the switches. Dogs with larger build are also trained to pull patients in wheelchairs. They do this with the help of a special harness which facilitates them to pull objects. They are also trained as walker dogs, which are also nicknamed as living canes. They help patients with Parkinson's disease and other disorders. They assist their owners with the help of their gait and also provide balance while walking. Incase the handler falls off, the dog helps to regain position by acting as a brace. All kinds of mobility assistance dogs are allowed in areas where pet aren't allowed, like in public places and transportations. Dogs are also trained for assisting people with Type 1 diabetes. They are service dogs trained to smell the odor changes in the body which helps to determine hypoglycemia or low blood glucose. Another type of service dogs is seizure response dog. They help patients with epilepsy or seizure disorder. They help to seek help in case of emergency, block the handler with absence seizures, pull dangerous objects away from the body, and wake up the unconscious patient. They are also trained to use a pre-programmed phone. They also provide physical and emotional support and also carry information about the patient's medical condition. Service dogs are also trained to help people with psychiatric disabilities such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, autism, and post traumatic stress disorder. They alert the handler to take medicines, and also help people having hallucinations, paranoia or alerting behaviors. They also act as a brace and help to retrieve objects. Dogs which help the visually impaired people or blind people are known as guide dogs. They help the handler to walk around obstacles. But the disadvantage here is that dogs are partially color blind. They cannot see red and green color, so they cannot help the blind with traffic signals. They even cannot be trained to interpret street signs. Guide horses are also employed to help people who are blind and who do not prefer guide dogs. The horses are miniature horses. Some people prefer horses because they live longer than the dogs. Some are also allergic or scared of dogs. But the advantage of keeping a guide dog is that they can live within the house, but the horse needs to be kept in a barn. Also horses cannot travel on public transportations like a dog. Capuchin monkeys are also trained by some organizations. They help the quadriplegics or patients who have paralysis in all their four limbs. Initially they should be brought up with people with no disabilities and then after reaching a certain age; they can be given intense training and then transferred to the home of the quadriplegic. They can perform tasks such as opening bottles, microwaving food and they even wash the face of their owner. They are also very friendly animals and are safe for kids, too. Pet Passport and P.E.T.S. Pets require a passport when they travel from one country to another. The passport has official information about the animal in picture. Pet Travel Scheme or PETS, is a scheme which allows the easy obtainment of the pet passport with out going through quarantine. The animal can easily travel between member countries. Even the issue of passport is expedited through this scheme. They issue passport for even transport of pets. Some of the member countries are countries of the European Union along with the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has been famous for rabies control in the past and that is the reason why they require six month quarantine period for imported animals. PETS' scheme was introduced on October 1st, 2001. The scheme has also been rolled out in countries like the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Pets travelling to countries other than the member countries require a valid passport and rabies vaccination. The pet passport has multiple forms which are in a small blur booklet or on pink A4 sheet. The passport contains the tattoo number of the animal or a microchip. A certification too is included, which has information about the rabies vaccination, which is signed by a veterinary surgeon that is officially approved. People usually confuse the passport with a purple colored small folder which is a folder that has records of the pet's complete vaccination history. Some countries accept this passport alone and others ask for supporting documentations relating to the procedure that needs to be followed. All the documents are checked at the time of boarding and upon arrival, too. The pet can only be taken as cargo or excess baggage and not as a checked baggage. There are different requirements for different countries. The rules also differ for import and export of the pets. But there are certain specifications which are common. The pet should have a microchip implant beneath the skin. The chip should be according to the ISOP specification. Also, there should be a rabies vaccination certification. And there should be a proof that the vaccination is working, this can be done by taking a blood serology test, which shows that the pet is presently rabies free. Some countries demand that the pet should be treated for fleas, tapeworms, and ticks. It should be done within forty eight hours. The government certifications are documents which have information about the export of the animal. A letter should also be taken from the vet from whom they confirm the pet's fitness for travelling. Each individual carrier also has their set of regulations about the export and import of the animal. Before travelling, the owner should thoroughly research the regulations of the arrival and departure points. The destination's government website should be checked out because some countries ask for separate certificates for proof, to see whether the pet meets their requirements or not. The county's consulate should also be contacted for details about the formal procedures. The travel crate should also be approved prior to the travel. The crate should have the appropriate food and water containers. The owner can apply for the pet's passport soon after it gets the vaccination certificate. If the rabies vaccination is out of date, the new vaccination must be given, but this will delay the passport procedure. In some cases, booster vaccination can also be given. While travelling, the pet shouldn't be sedated, because heights can have an adverse affect on medication. Even most of the carriers do not allow sedated animals. The charges of every carrier vary on the type and size of the animal. Also, animals might not be taken by a particular route because of adverse temperatures as that can risk the health of the animal. The authorized travel route must be taken, in this case. If the required documents are missing the pet will be refused entry o the owner will be asked to put the pet for at least six months in quarantine. Intestinal Blockages in Pets caused by Foreign Objects Playful pets tend to eat a lot of things which they find it difficult to digest. Sometimes these foreign objects can block their intestines and if immediate action isn't taken it can even lead to death of the animal. Usually in serious cases, the foreign object needs to be taken out surgically. Animals such as dogs, cats, mouse, have the habit of chewing loose chords, especially that of the computer. Other things which get chewed are plants, wool strands, plastic bags, shoes, toys, purse straps, vinyl objects, leather objects, baskets, furniture, and bed frames. Though prevention can be taken and the house can be made pet proof, but still there are chances of such accidents. Some animals either pass these objects through stool or vomit it out. Such incidents can happen anytime and the animal cannot be lucky every time. The objects can still remain in the body even after pooping and vomiting. Vinyl and leather materials get stuck to the walls of the intestines. This condition is hard to be determined immediately as the animal doesn't stop breathing or starts feeling dizzy. But by close observation if it is noted that the animal isn't eating properly as it used to before, doesn't excretes and lies dull on the bed whole day long, means something fishy is going on. Since the animal isn't in serious condition, the owners need not panic. An x-ray and a blood test can explain the situation and the veterinarian can get a clear idea of what to do. If the blood test comes out normal, it indicates that the animal still has time on hand and the foreign object can be removed with the help of some laxative. And if there is an indication of an infection in the blood, a sonogram or a barium x-ray can be done. The very last resort is surgery, and this should be done only when the animal refuses to eat anything. In situation vomiting should be induced as this could aggravate the condition. If the animal vomits by himself, it is good. Heavy duty materials block the intestine completely. Other than blocking or sticking to the walls of the intestines, some plants can also be toxic to the animal. The owners can restrain from planting such plants in their yard or home garden. Instead, most of the pets like to play in grass, so grass, especially oat grass can be grown for the animal to enjoy. Plastic bags also pose a big threat to the animal. But the rustling noise can make the plastic more attractive and enjoyable for the pet. Objects made out of plastic such as purses, wraps, and purses should be kept out of reach. Another precaution that can be taken is that the objects which the animals enjoy chewing can be made unattractive by spraying with bitter apple spray. They can be even cleaned with a disinfectant with a strong odor but be careful the type of disinfectant you use as they can be poisonous too to our pet. Most of the pet owners do not buy leather product such as shoes and purses any more as they are expensive and get easily ruined by pet's chewing them. Shoes can be stored in high shoe racks, drawers, chest or even better, in walk -- in closets, along with the purses. Some pets do not watch where they are going. There are chances that they walk straight into the objects. If objects made out of glass fall from a height, it will immediately break into pieces. This is the most dangerous, because if consumed can lead to on the spot death. The broken glass pieces can wound the organs internally, which can lead to sever bleeding. Even if the animal undergoes the surgery, it would still take him a lot of time to recover from it. Along with the expensive surgical procedure, comes pain. Various pet owners deal with the situation in their own way and no one way is recommended as the official one. But the best way is to immediately rush the pet to a veterinarian who has a good experience treating animals similar to your pet. Finding lost Pets Different species of animals behave differently when they are lost and also in most of the situations, owners also panic and search frantically all over the place. What people don't realize is that they shouldn't take any action in haste but should put in some thinking. And in such critical situations, time cannot be wasted. If smart tactics are used, the animal will itself come walking to the owner. The first thing to do is to call out the name of the animal very loudly. Usually the owners call out the name of the animal at meal times. So the pet will associate the name calling with food and will come out of the hiding for food if they are in vicinity. Also, the dry food treats, which are given to the animal, can be put in a can and covered with a lid. Then the can should be rattled. Hearing the noise the pet will come rushing to have the treat, no matter where they are hiding. They will get tempted to have their treat. This technique is also known as conditioning response and is very effective. Very rarely will a pet come out of the hiding in broad daylight. The owners must wait till dusk and then start the search of the animal in the neighborhood. But they should not waste time during the day and it should be utilized to inform the law enforcement about the present situation, because in most of the states, it is a must to report a lost animal within an hour. And if this time limit is crossed the owner can be heavily penalized and even get arrested. All the legal requirements should be documented and all the names of the involved people should be noted down. This will help in providing a proof later. Portable torch or spotlight can be used to search around at night. This is also an effective technique because the animal will be looking straight at the human and also its eyes will reflect the light and shine in the dark. If the animal has escaped from the premises, every house in the neighborhood should be knocked and people should be shown pictures of the pet. Also, contact information should be left in case if they find the pet they can contact you. There can be a great possibility of someone spotting the animal. And if someone does see the animal, it will give the direction in which the animal is proceeding. The animal can be in big risk if it declawed or de-fanged. It will not have the basic means of self-defense. If in a dense area, it will hide till dark and then wander around in the night. Also the animal cannot hunt for food, it will be very hungry and tired. Again here the rattling of the can with dry food can do the trick. Even its favorite toy, which makes noise, can be used. Any familiar sound will encourage the animal to come out of the hiding. The recognition of the rattling of the can and noise of a toy should be part of the training, which will be useful in such situations. In fact, the animal should be made to hear this sound everyday. But a person should carry out this practice, which is close to the pet. The same person should try this trick when the animal is lost, as the pet will not come to an unknown person. Even after all these efforts, the pet isn't found; flyers should be distributed in the neighborhood. The flyer should have a picture of the pet, its description, owner's contact information and a reward if any. The idea of the reward, even if it a small amount, will catch the attention of many and some might even become proactive members of the search team. If budget allows, do print the flyer in color, as the picture will be more easily recognizable. It is very important to mention that if any one sees the animal, do not try to catch it, instead the owners must be contacted immediately. Also, medium sized boards similar to advertising boards can be put up within a radius of two miles. The words 'lost pet' and telephone number should be written in big and bold font. Other details can be written in smaller font. When the animal is found, the signs should be saved for future use. Animal Languages Animals to communicate with humans use animal language. The animal language is a modified version of early human language itself only that animals lack complexity and are less expressive. Great ape language is a means to communicate among apes such as bonobos, orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas. Humans communicate with these animals using sign language, lexigrams, yerkish and physical tokens. Jacques Vauclair, Francine Patterson and David Premack are well-known researchers in great ape language. Humans have used sign language since a very long time. One of the important sign language used by humans is American Sign Language. Animals also use signs to express their feelings and for communication sake. Vocabulary words have been taken from American Sign Language to communicate with the apes. Lexigrams are symbols, which represent something. The symbols are laid down on a flat board called the lexigram board. The lexigram board has three panels with three hundred and eighty four keys. These boards are especially used to communicate with chimpanzees and bonobos. Yerkish also involves keyboard with punch keys, which have the lexigram symbols. It is actually an artificial language. Computer keyboards are also used to aid animals as most of them can be easily trained for keyboard operation. Plastic tokens are also used for communication with apes. The apes select a specific token when they want to communicate something. The animal is given training to select the right token. Tokens have symbols or pictures. Not all the apes learn this method of communication properly. During the training, the animal is made to learn by rewarding them upon an achievement. Although animals lack vocal cords and speech organs like humans, some animals have vocals of their own. Wild apes are known to talk to each other to make the other aware of a possible danger. Animal language does not have discreteness like human languages. In human languages, discrete units are combined together to make a new word with a meaning. So signs or sounds, in animal language, cannot be combined to form another sign or sound, which means something. But researchers have proved it that the animal language does meet certain requirements. But the validity is still disputed upon by many and that is the reason why animal language hasn't been given the status of a true language. People have questioned the practice of great ape language. The researchers try to understand whether the usage of this language aid the animals to solve the problem better. Also, whether the teaching experiences with a primate can be of use when human children are taught. This is because, there is without doubt a difference in the ability of the animal and a human, while they may be similar at some level. Some say that the apes do not actually understand the language, but instead do a clever trick to get a reward. Also some researches say that the signed gesture do not make a grammatically right sentence. The arbitrariness is sometimes missing, that is, there is no clear relationship between the signs or sounds. Many animals have behaviors, which is similar what we speak. They can understand the language, they can also use it to reflect their thoughts and communicate with a human. Other than primates, animals such as sea lions and dolphins also use sign language and vocals to communicate with human. Domestic Fish-keeping Fishes are kept at home in aquariums and ponds. The hobby of fish keeping is divided into brackish, saltwater, and freshwater fish keeping, out of which freshwater fish keeping is the favorite. The fishes which are popular for fish keeping are angelfish, goldfish and guppies. Different species of fishes can be kept together and sometimes fishes of the same species are kept together for breeding purpose. With breeders, the popular fish species are guppies, mollies, catfish, killifish, cichlid, and characin. Fish keeping was started centuries ago. At that time fishes were bred for food. Also, due to religious reasons, fish was eaten on days when meat wasn't allowed. The Chinese and Japanese traditions included fish keeping for food purposes. But later the kings began keeping goldfishes and koi, because of their attractive colors. They were kept in ponds and when guests used to arrive, the fishes were shifted indoors in fish bowls. Romans were also known to keep lampreys in pools with salt water. Ancient Egyptians kept fishes from Oxyrhynchus in temple pools. Saltwater or marine fish keeping is more difficult and expensive. Usually experienced fish keepers or aquarists are into this hobby. This is certainly not for beginners. But it sure is very attractive with colorful and attractive fishes along with different types of corals. Brackish fish keeping involves both freshwater and saltwater fish keeping, because the salinity of the water is in between that of seawater and freshwater. Fish keepers which are into this hobby also focus on the aquatic plants. Some hardcore aquarists even attempt to grow coral reef with the help of living rock, worms, and calcareous rocks with algae growth, sponges, and worms. When the corals begin to grow echinoderms, crabs, mollusks, and shrimps are also added to the aquariums, which are also called as reef tanks. The aquarium should have ecology which is similar to the natural habitat of the occupant fishes. This is an extremely difficult task. Also, it is important to maintain the predator prey relationship balance. Also more than the volume of the water, the surface volume is important. This is because, more the surface volume, more the oxygen levels in the water. Air pumps also are used to increase the dissolved oxygen in the water. This is part of the nutrient cycle, which should be maintained and controlled for the well-fare of the fishes. Larger aquariums are more preferable and they make things easier, for example the event effects are diluted easily and the systemic shock is absorbed well. Other factors to be controlled are nitrogen cycle, dissolved gases and balanced food supply. The salinity of the water should be checked regularly depending of the aquaria being maintained. The pH level should be checked to test the acidic nature of the water. For freshwater aquarium, most of the aquarist use tap water, which is a mistake as it contains chlorine. Chloramines should be used in tap water to make it chlorine free. Depending on temperature, the aquarium can be differentiated to have tropical and cold water. For tropical aquarium, the water should be warm and the temperature should be nearly seventy-seven degree Fahrenheit. For cold water aquarium, the water temperature should be less than room temperature. For this purpose, a refrigeration device called chiller can be used. Plants and certain organisms can be introduced in the aquarium which metabolizes the waste, especially nitrogen. But more the number of organisms added to the fish tank, the more difficult it is to maintain. The needs of all the aquatic organisms must be considered. Introducing many types of species in an aquarium is known as biological loading. Two important factors should be considered which include filtration process and oxygen levels. Aquarists interested in fish breeding should be more careful. Firstly, they shouldn't mix many types of fishes together. They should also develop special conditions called spawning triggers for proper breeding. Artificial ponds can be also made in the garden. It is very similar to freshwater keeping, except that they are big and out in natural conditions. Tropical fishes are a good choice for such garden ponds. But where the temperatures are cold, goldfishes, orfe and koi are good options. Goldfish Maintenance Goldfishes were first among the fishes and also the most common fishes that were kept as pets. They are popular because they are inexpensive and long lasting. They can even survive in ponds covered with ice, until they have sufficient supply of oxygen. Many types of goldfishes are available in the market. Because of selective breeding, different types of goldfishes are available which differ in color, shape, eye and fin configuration. Some of these fishes cannot survive in the wild and must be kept only in the aquarium. This is because of their attractive colors. Thanks to mixed breeding, the body of some fishes have been modified which is an obstruction in natural breeding. Such kinds of fishes are hand bred, but this procedure is very risky and has to be executed very carefully. Goldfishes can be kept in aquarium with cold water. According to the popular perception, goldfishes should have to be kept in goldfish bowl. But what people do not realize is that the decreased water surface area provides lesser oxygen to the fishes, which can result in difficulty in respiration. The fishes also die very quickly because of ammonia or nitrite poisoning. Hence, goldfish bowls have been banned in many countries. Also goldfishes that are kept in bowls have a shorter lifespan. One medium sized goldfish need minimum of ten gallons of water. Goldfishes intoxicate the water very quickly with their feces and the chemicals released from their gills. The water should be cleaned regularly otherwise the fishes can die in a short period. The water surface area should be considered when introducing new fishes to the aquarium, because more the water surface area, more the diffused oxygen. The water can also be aerated with the help of filter or water pump. Goldfishes cannot survive sudden water temperature shifts. This usually happens in winters, when the heating is turned on. The goldfishes shouldn't be touched because it would result in slimy coating on its body coming out, which exposes the skin to bacterial infection. This is very dangerous to the health of the fish. Goldfishes, when kept in dark will loose their color. This is because they have pigments in the cells, similar to the pigments in human, which causes it to become tan. Therefore, lights should be installed in closed rooms. A full hood can be used to provide adequate light. But if the aquarium has water less than thirty gallons, then the room lights will do the job. Also the aquarium can be placed in natural light, if it is available. Goldfishes are opportunistic feeders, that is, they will eat whenever food is provided to them. The more the food given to them, the more the waste created. They should be given food only twice a day and the quantity must be only that much which it can finish in couple of minutes. The food should have high carbohydrate and low protein, as the fish will be unable to digest proteins well because of the lack of stomach. Other than the commercial food flakes and pellets, they can also be given bloodworms and green leafy vegetables. If the fishes are overfed, it could lead to the bursting of their intestines. The goldfish can grow up to twenty-three inches and can weigh up to ten pounds. There are known to live for twenty years, but in captivity they live for eight years. Goldfishes although are good in aquariums, they can also be kept in ponds. The depth of the water should be more than thirty inches, so that the water doesn't freeze in winter. Plants should also be added to the pond as they will filter the water and even increase the oxygen amount in the water. Along with that, filters should also be used to the clean the pond water. Ponds are a good place to breed goldfishes. Water surface should be one square foot for each inch of fish's length. The goldfishes kept in the aquarium and as well as in the ponds should not be mixed with tropical fishes or any other kind of fish. Since most of the goldfishes are hybrid variety, they are more prone to attacks. Some fishes not only attack the goldfishes, but also suck on their wounds. Petting Hedgehogs Hedgehogs are small animals with spines all over their body. They belong to the Erinaceinae's subfamily. Hedgehogs have habitations in New Zealand, Asia, Europe and Africa. There are sixteen known species of hedgehog, out of which Algerian or African pygmy hedgehog, Indian long eared hedgehog, four toed or white bellied hedgehog and Egyptian long eared hedgehog are kept as domestic pets .They are also known as furze pig, hedge pig, and urchin. Since they have been domesticated from the past few years, somewhere in the 1980s, they still have their wild instincts such as predator fear. This fear also makes them to fear humans. Therefore, it is highly recommended to buy a hedgehog which has been bred in captivity and has been bred by an experienced breeder. Because of the domestication, hedgehogs have been developing new colors which have resulted in pinto and albino hedgehogs. They are nocturnal animals. In the wild they do not hibernate in the winter, but in captivity, they hibernate if the body temperature lowers drastically. This is an extremely dangerous situation. Their bodies are extremely sensitive to temperature changes. The temperature of the surroundings should be more than seventy-two degree Fahrenheit. By Nature, hedgehogs are insectivorous and feed on insects majorly. They are also opportunistic feeders and can become obese easily. Their body is designed to extract chitin which is within the insect's exoskeleton. Chitin can also be substituted by fiber. In captivity, they can be fed with cat food which is low in fat and high in proteins. The fat content should be less than twelve percent, protein content must be more than thirty percent and fiber should be more than ten percent. The owners are advised to read the nutritional facts to give food rich in proteins and not carbohydrates. Cat food made out of meat and its byproducts are also recommended. Chicken food also can be given. Their diet can also be supplemented by vegetables, fruits, unseasoned cooked meat, mealworms, crickets, and wax worms. Commercially food is also prepared specifically for hedgehogs which have insect components in them. Chitin sprinklers are also available which can be sprinkled on food. Baby food can be given as treats. Sugar shouldn't be added in any of the meals. They can also be given insects directly, but care should be taken that these insects shouldn't be sprayed with insecticides. Hedgehogs can put on weight easily and this is the case fat should be cut down and exercise activity should be increased. Exercise is also important to keep them away from liver problems. They can be kept in cages. Hedgehogs travel very long distances everyday, so they should be provided with ample room for this purpose. A room or an isolated corner is a must; otherwise the pet will develop eating and sleeping disorders. The cage should be approximately five feet in both length and breadth. Multilevel cages give them extra space to walk. But care should be taken because hedgehogs have poor eyesight. They can climb easily, but they can fall while descending. Wheel, specifically bucket type wheels, should also be included so as to encourage them to exercise. Tubes such as toilet paper cylinders can also be kept inside the cage for them to play. Their bed should be made out of vellux blanket material. They can also be mingled with other pets such as dogs and cats. In most of the countries, it is illegal to have a hedgehog as a pet unless a license has been taken to own them. The permit can be difficult to obtain, sometimes. Hedgehog lovers can communicate with the animal control agencies to keep them as pets. There are no laws in Europe against domesticating or breeding hedgehog. In some countries, it is strictly against the law to keep hedgehogs as pets. And in some countries, a specific species of hedgehog are allowed to be kept as pets. People are not prone to develop allergies directly from hedgehog, but they can develop allergies from their bedding and food.
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