Responsible Ownership Holistic Pet Food Pampering Pets Dogs For Veterans Pet Insurance Weight-Loss Plan Dental Treats Washing Dog

Despite Tough Economy, Americans Remain Loyal To Their Pets

(NAPSI)-Americans love their pets and will do what they can to keep their faithful companions happy and healthy--whatever state the economy is in.

That's what a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association found. The study revealed that:


  • The current economic situation has had little negative impact on their decision to own a pet, according to 70 percent of America's pet owners.
  • In fact, more than 80 percent of pet owners report that they have not changed their spending patterns and continue to spend the same on their pet during these times.
  • Even 62 percent of horse owners, one of the most costly pets to maintain, report that the economy has not influenced their pet ownership. In fact, 5 percent of horse owners reported spending more on their pet during this same time.
  • Interestingly, even those households with income levels under $25K and between $25 and $50K report that to a large degree--57 percent and 67 percent, respectively--their ownership levels have remained unchanged despite the economy.

While the pet sector enjoyed a steady stream of spending, American pet owners compensated by reducing spending on other household and leisure items.

Across the board, there was a reported decline in spending on activities including movies, plays, museums, sporting events, travel, dining and even shopping. These findings suggest that Americans will readily perform an act of self-sacrifice and reallocate their dollars to maintain the quality of life of their pet.

"This information further demonstrates that pet owners will continue to cut back in their personal lives before scaling back on their four-legged friends," said APPA President Bob Vetere. "This goes to show the strength of the human-animal bond and the joys that can be realized through responsible pet ownership. This is the primary reason that the pet industry continues to remain strong."

It's a fact: Even in the toughest of times, pet ownership is on the rise as Americans continue their love affair with their pets. In good times and in bad, Americans turn to their pets for support, consolation, love, stress relief and mood therapy. After all, who needs a prescription antidepressant when your pet is standing at the ready to warm your heart and generate a smile?

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) is the leading not-for-profit trade association, serving the interests of the pet products industry since 1958. APPA membership includes nearly 1,000 pet product manufacturers, their representatives, importers and livestock suppliers representing both large corporations and growing business enterprises.

APPA's mission is to promote, develop and advance pet ownership and the pet products industry and to provide the services necessary to help its members prosper. Visit for more information.

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Holistic Health From Whiskers To Tail

(NAPSI)-Maybe you already add Omega-3s and probiotics to your diet, but what about the food you feed your four-legged friend?

If you are like a growing number of pet owners, your dog or cat consumes many of the same nutrients you do. You might even make an occasional trip to the yoga studio for a "doga" (that's dog yoga) session. It's all part of what veterinarian Dr. Al Townshend calls a revolution in holistic pet health.

"Americans are applying holistic health techniques for mind and body to their pets," he says. "They appreciate that connecting with their pets meaningfully and thoughtfully each day can easily be achieved through a holistic diet. And by following a holistic feeding philosophy, pet owners are unlocking a higher level of health for their dogs and cats."

The Diet Link

Say your dog is acting a bit sluggish, for instance, or the family cat's coat has lost its sheen. Dr. Townshend says you should carefully consider what is in their food bowl.

"I can look at a dog that comes into my office and tell what he's been eating by the condition of his skin and coat, energy level and weight," he says. "If an animal transitions to an optimal, holistic diet, like Holistic Select®, and comes back to see me in a few months, he's like a new dog."

So how can you go holistic? Visit a local pet specialty store or the Web to find Holistic Select. It's geared toward providing animals with a more complete system of health. Holistic Select is filled with a unique set of what's called "Select Actives™," the same functional ingredients that many pet owners seek to add to their own diets. They include probiotics, natural enzymes, botanicals and Omega-3s and -6s.

"These ingredients have the power to positively impact a dog's or cat's health not just today but for the long term," notes Dr. Townshend. "They work together to help with digestion and nutrient absorption, while also fighting disease and stress--and even improving the look and feel of a pet's coat."

To learn more about holistic pet food and health, visit or call (800) 225-0904.

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Pampering Pets With Arthritis During Colder Weather

(NAPSI)-While people who suffer from arthritis can do a lot to relieve the stiff joints and pain that often accompany colder days, pets may suffer silently.

Fortunately, there are ways that pet owners can spot signs of arthritis in pets and provide some relief.

Signs include lagging behind on walks, limping or appearing stiff after activity, a reluctance to climb steps or jump, rising slowly after resting.

If your pet begins to show these signs, there are several ways you can ease his or her pain:

• Joint supplements may help ease arthritis pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are widely known for their roles in the support of joint health. These products generally take at least six weeks to begin to heal the cartilage, and most animals need to be maintained on these products for the rest of their lives.

Cosequin is recommended for cats, dogs and horses.

  • Weight management is a major factor in joint-disease prevention. Helping pets lose excess weight will ease the pain and stress on their joints. Supplements that help with weight management include Trim Treats, Vetri-Lean and Lean Dog.
  • Exercise is the next important step. Exercise that provides a good range of motion while building muscle and that limits wear and tear on joints is best. Walking on a leash, swimming, walking on treadmills, slow jogging and going up and down stairs are excellent low-impact exercises. Swimming is OK for extended periods of time and highly recommended in some cases.
  • Dress for the outdoors. Keeping your arthritic pet warm may help him or her be more comfortable.
  • Use products that help make your pet more comfortable. Some products such as the Bottom's Up Leash offer a hind leg support harness for dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis or any other problem that affects the legs or spine.
  • Use supplements to improve an older pet's overall health. For example, Proviable-DC is a probiotic that helps normalize intestinal function and strengthens the immune system in pets with gastrointestinal problems. Welactin provides omega-3 fatty acids to help maintain normal health, protect kidney function and help skin and coat. Dermaquin provides some of the same benefits.

For more information, visit

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New Avenue To Support Wounded Warriors

(NAPSI)-If it weren't for Frankie, Army Sergeant Allen Hill would have a harder time getting out of bed in the morning. Frankie is a caregiver of a different sort--one with four legs.

"With Frankie by his side, Allen has started participating in his life again," said Hill's wife, Gina. "Frankie is a yellow lab, and she has become his best friend."

People often ask how they can support wounded warriors and are unsure how to get started. The U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) recently launched the AW2 Community Support Network to connect local organizations with severely wounded, ill and injured soldiers and veterans living in their hometowns, veterans like Hill.

Hill received Frankie from Puppies Behind Bars, a member of the AW2 Community Support Network.

"The support community organizations provide AW2 soldiers, veterans and their families is priceless," said AW2 director Colonel Jim Rice. "The services they offer go above and beyond the government benefits--they help wounded warriors rebuild confidence through outdoor activities, offer employment opportunities, and build and modify houses to meet physical limitations."

Local support is the core of the AW2 program, which has more than 120 AW2 Advocates across the country providing personalized support to severely wounded soldiers, veterans and their families for as long as it takes. This support includes connecting soldiers and families with full benefits, recreation activities or assistance in continuing to serve in the Army. The AW2 Community Support Network helps local organizations connect with individual AW2 soldiers and veterans who need their support.

"The service dogs are placed with veterans who are struggling with invisible wounds," said Gina Hill. "These dogs are specifically trained to help them manage their PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) related symptoms. The bond these two have is unbelievable and was almost immediate. She is able to help him through flashbacks, nightmares and many other difficult situations."

More than 70 percent of AW2 wounded warriors have medically retired and are transitioning to civilian life. As they move forward with their new goals, the support of their neighbors and communities can make all the difference in their long-term success.

For more information on the Army Wounded Warrior Program and the AW2 Community Support Network, please visit Organizations interested in joining the AW2 Community Support Network can call toll-free (800) 237-1336 or e-mail

Photo by Mike Parker

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Guarding Against A Pet's Surprise Medical Mishaps

(NAPSI)-New pet owners know to prepare financially and mentally for the occasional ear infection in their four-footed friend, or perhaps even a bout with fleas. But what about something less expected and considerably more costly?

Take the case of Lulu, a mischievous English bulldog whose secret propensity for eating baby pacifiers unexpectedly landed her in the operating room.

"We were all shocked, especially since Lulu never had any symptoms, and I had no idea all of those pacifiers had gone missing," said the dog's owner, Jennifer Zwart. One $800 surgery and 15 pacifiers later, Lulu was feeling fine. Today, the Zwarts no longer leave pacifiers lying around their house.

Similarly, a simple sewing needle led to a series of seizures and an expensive procedure for a cat in California. Scooter, a Siamese, swallowed the needle with the thread still attached. It remained stuck to the back of her tongue for several weeks, eventually piercing a portion of her brain. After the needle removal and a veterinary invoice of almost $2,000, Scooter was back to normal.

A Dog's Tale

But perhaps topping the list of bizarre--and expensive--pet mishaps is the tale of Ranger, a border collie, who suddenly found himself between a cow and a hard place.

Minutes into his first cattle-herding practice, Ranger ran and crashed full speed into a cow's back legs, then broke the heifer's fall with his own body, suffering some nagging bruises in the process. The net result: a $1,350 bill for Ranger's owners.

Keeping Pets Safe

Dr. Carol McConnell, chief veterinary medical officer for Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI)--a company that receives more than a million medical claims each year--says that while these pets' stories may seem strange, similar medical mishaps happen more than you might expect.

To elevate pet safety awareness, the insurer launched an annual contest that crowns one of 12 monthly nominees the "Most Unusual Claim of the Year." Coined the "VPI Hambone Award," it's named in honor of a dog that survived being trapped in a refrigerator while devouring a ham down to the bone. You can read about nominees at

"The award helps alert pet owners to unexpected dangers in the house and outdoors," says McConnell. "This way, they may be better prepared to prevent mishaps and simply be aware that the unexpected can, and in some instances will, happen to their dog or cat."

Guard Against The Unexpected

Unfortunately, not all accidents can be prevented by keeping an extra close eye on your pet. For instance, Rincon, an energetic German shorthaired pointer, was attacked by a fierce javelina (an animal similar to a wild pig) while hiking with his watchful owner.

That's why experts say it pays to be financially prepared for surprise veterinary bills--whether they're for unavoidable accidents and injuries or the hundreds of illnesses that can plague companion pets.

An affordable way to do just that is to buy pet insurance. For an average premium of $30 a month, insured pet owners are reimbursed a percentage of the eligible costs they incur for their pet's testing and treatment related to accidents and illnesses. Plus, policyholders are able to visit any licensed veterinarian in the world.

For more information, visit

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Five Tips To Help Keep Fido And Fluffy Fit

(NAPS)—If your pooch is portly or your tabby is tubby, you’re not alone. According to an Association for Pet Obesity Prevention survey, over 44 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats are now estimated to be overweight or obese. Obesity is a major health concern that contributes to health problems in pets, just as it does in humans, so it’s important to be watchful and responsible as a pet owner.

“Cats don’t get as much exercise as dogs and a dog’s metabolic rate can decrease by up to 30 percent as it ages,” said Darlene Frudakis, president and COO for PetAg, Inc. “Those facts, combined with the issue of owners overfeeding and overtreating their pets, add up to weighty challenges for pets,” she added.

The current market leader in pet health and wellness products, PetAg, now offers CatSlim® and DogSlim™, the first all-natural, nutritional food supplements designed to jump-start a well-managed weight-loss plan.

The company’s products are complemented by a full line of nutritionally oriented products for pets in all life stages. Functional treats such as DogSlim™ Low-Calorie Bites, antioxidant-filled functional treats with real pumpkin and green tea, provide a nutritious treat that won’t add to the dog’s waistline.

Based on research by the nation’s leading veterinarian organizations, Frudakis has compiled five ways to help maintain a pet’s healthy weight for life:

1.  Work with a vet to determine optimum weight.

Every pet is different, so work closely with a trusted veterinarian to determine a pet’s optimal weight. Rapid, unexplained weight gain may be a warning sign indicating a number of health issues, ranging from excess fluid retention due to kidney problems, to a hormone imbalance caused by any number of medical conditions. Obesity contributes to diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders, osteoarthritis and more. 

2.  Feed treats responsibly.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 88 percent of dog owners and 65 percent of cat owners give treats to their pets. Many treats are filled with fat and empty calories. In pets, much like humans, extra calories contribute to excess weight and obesity that affects overall health. The calories in treats add up quickly, with many ranging between 50 and 100 calories each.

While owners are showing their love and affection with treats, these nibbles are largely expendable calories.

3.  Substitute fruits and vegetables.

These high-fiber substitute treats are also packed with nutrients good for cats and dogs, but remember to cut in portion sizes that are suitable for a pet’s size. Refer to vets’ guidelines regarding the specific garden favorites that can be served to dogs and cats. Grapes and raisins, for instance, are not recommended and can be harmful. Healthy treat options that feature the goodness of real apple fiber, strawberries or carrots include PetAg’s DogSlim Fruit and Veggie Bites—oven baked, all natural and high in dietary fiber.

4.  Move!

Exercise is key when trying to help a pet lose or maintain its weight. Move food dishes for cats to higher levels so they’ll have to jump to reach them. Take dogs on an extra walk each day. Keep in mind, however, health-related issues that might affect a pet’s ability to exercise (e.g., a cat with joint problems might need steps to climb up to dishes and a dog with the same challenge might only go for an amble on warmer days outside). High in protein and low in fat, all-natural Rawhide Brand® Safety-Knot™ chews can provide hours of calorie-burning chewing activity and enjoyment for dogs.

5.  Stop sharing table scraps.

Dogs and cats have different nutritional and digestive needs, so while they may enjoy lapping up leftovers, those same treats contribute extra calories to their diets and can add to their expanding waistlines. Studies show that a pet living on a lean diet can live up to two years longer than a pet that is constantly overfed.

For more information, visit

Obesity is a top health concern for veterinarians.

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Keeping Your Pet's Smile Healthy

(NAPSI)-While most pet owners understand the importance of a healthy mouth for themselves, they often overlook that a healthy mouth is just as important for their pets. And periodontal disease, a chronic bacterial infection in the gums supporting the teeth, is the No. 1 health problem in pets. Studies have shown that the bacteria from periodontal disease may be linked to heart, kidney, liver and respiratory disease.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, three out of four pets suffer from some degree of periodontal disease by age 3. Regular checkups by the veterinarian, tooth cleaning and treatments as necessary and daily care such as tooth brushing, foods with a dental benefit and dental chews can help to keep your pet's smile--and your pet--healthy.

"It's important that pet owners know about the significance of a healthy mouth for their pets. Many veterinary dental specialists believe that a clean, healthy mouth may actually prolong a pet's life. And what pet owner doesn't want to have more time to spend with their pet?" said Dr. Jan Bellows, a veterinarian and pet dental specialist in Westin, Fla.

The Greenies Company encourages pet oral health by educating pet parents about the importance of a healthy mouth for their pets. As part of its "Show Us Your Pet's Healthy Smile" contest, more than 7,000 pet parents visited to upload a photo of their smiling pets and to learn more about preventing periodontal disease.

Lucy, a 3-year-old German shepherd, won the contest prize--a year's supply of GREENIES dental chews--by receiving more than 31,000 votes. Cheryl, Lucy's pet parent said, "Being able to give Lucy a GREENIES dental chew a day will be such a treat. It is nice knowing that I will be able to continue to keep her mouth healthy."

To learn more about keeping your pet's healthy smile and to get valuable coupons worth $2.00 off a 12-ounce package of canine GREENIES dental chews and $1.00 off FELINE GREENIES dental treats, visit

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Washing Your Dog Naturally

(NAPS)—Warm weather means more outdoor fun for your dog but it also means rolling around in the mud, swimming in dirty water and sometimes getting skunked. Dogs may need an extra bath during warmer weather but there’s no need for an expensive visit to the groomer.

Washing pets at home can   save money and you can use the gentlest, all-natural, fresh goat’s milk products such as those from Nature’s Dog by Canus. A dog’s pH is one of the highest among mammals, making their skin particularly sensitive and susceptible to irritations, rashes and hot spots.

Nature’s Dog Fresh Goat’s Milk Shampoo with Blue Cedar Fragrance uses the moisturizing properties of fresh goat’s milk to soothe skin while gently foaming away dirt and grime. Neem and juniper oils naturally repel fleas and ticks, and fight dandruff. Tea tree and meadowfoam seed oils relieve and heal dry skin and hot spots while shea butter helps condition and bring a healthy shine to even the longest coat. For more information, visit

Dogs have a high pH balance and may benefit from a gentle wash to foam away dirt and grime

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