Pets:

Pet Poetry Contest Pet Owners Survey Pet Wellness Programs Protecting Pets Healing Pets Oral Hygiene For Pets Driver's Ed For Dog Owners Slim, Trim
Healthy Pets

Creative, Heartwarming Pet Poems By Kids

(NAPSI)-When it comes to describing the rewarding relationship between pets and their owners, sometimes a poem just says it best.

Recently, six poems summed up that sentiment so well that they won the American Pet Products Association's (APPA) 2nd Annual National Children's Pet Poetry Contest. Through the APPA's Pets Add Life (PAL) campaign, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students were invited to write and submit a unique and creative poem about their pets.

Two students from each grade were selected to win a $250 gift certificate for pet products, and a "byline" in a nationally circulated publication. In addition, the six winning students' classrooms each received a $1,000 scholarship to spend on pet-related education.

Poems were judged on creativity, clarity, voice and the student's ability to reinforce the message of the joys and benefits of pet ownership. The panel of judges consisted of teachers, elementary school administration and APPA.

Here is one of the winning poems, in the fifth-grade category:

"My Dog, Bear" by Spring from Lincoln, Del.

When I think of you,

My heart shines bright,

Just like a

Baby bird's first flight.

First thing in the morning

Your nose I see,

An inch from my nose

Tickles me.

When you know I'm leaving,

Your head hangs low.

It breaks my heart,

'Cause I love you so.

And even though I'm angry,

When you chew my shoe,

Your sorrowful eyes

Make me forgive you.

When my sister died,

You comforted me.

You miss her too--

It's plain to see.

When I'm lonely,

Or I need a friend,

You're always there,

Your love to lend.

I love you Bear,

My adorable dog.

You've helped me

Through my own fog.

No other dog

Compares to you.

Taking care of me,

You'll always do.

To see other poems and for more information about APPA's 3rd Annual National Children's Pet Poetry Contest, you can visit www.petsaddlife.org.

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Be A Responsible Owner: Pick Up After Your Pet

(NAPSI)-Pet ownership is at an all-time high, with 75 million dogs in 45 million households, according to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. And more people are hitting the road with their dogs as well. Neighborhood walks and days at the park are now expanding to outings at the dog park and visits to dog-friendly local establishments.

Before hitting the trail or sidewalk with your dog, take a few steps to make sure that your best friend is a good neighbor as well.

• Leash training—Most communities have leash laws. Even if your dog is well trained, keeping him or her on a leash is a good idea because dogs can be startled by unfamiliar noises and run away or bolt into traffic.

• Dog parks and dog training—Many communities now have dog parks that provide open areas for your pet to roam, run or romp with other dogs. Make sure your dog has proper obedience training before hitting the park. If your dog knows simple commands, it makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

• The tag’s the thing—Many dog parks and recreation areas require that dogs wear ID tags and their current rabies and registration tags. Even if your dog stays in your yard, tags are a good idea, so you may reunite quickly should your dog slip out.

• Cleaning up after your dog—An average-sized dog weighs 40 pounds and produces about ¾ of a pound of waste a day, which translates to over 13 million tons of waste a year for 75 million dogs. The bacteria found in pet waste poses health risks. Due to the carnivorous feeding habits of domestic animals, their waste contains bacteria, which in turn can cause diseases that are harmful to both humans and pets.

Pet waste has been identified by the EPA as a major cause of nonpoint source pollution caused by rainwater runoff. The EPA and CDC advise that the safest place for pet waste is bagged and placed in a landfill and discourage the composting of pet waste.

• Clean up in style—Since 1995, Bags on Board has encouraged pet owners to pick up after their pets using their stylish dispensers. The compact, refillable dispensers attach to any type of leash and contain a roll of pickup bags. Need a place to stash your keys, cell phone or other items? Adjustable and fashionable Purse Dispensers and Pouch Dispensers can be worn around the waist or across the chest and discreetly dispense pickup bags and provide storage for other items. Other fun dispensers, such as the Ball Dispenser, are also available.

For more information, visit www.bagsonboard.com.

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Pet Wellness Programs Promote Longer Life

(NAPSI)-A balanced diet and exercise are recommended to keep people healthy and can do the same for pets. Additionally, vitamins and supplements can keep pets healthier longer and improve their quality of life.

"Research is showing that many pet supplements have a positive impact on pets' health," explained veterinarian Dr. Amy Long. "Many of these products are now available in an easy-to-give treat form or can be mixed with food, eliminating the frustrations often associated with giving pills."

Pets of all ages and sizes may benefit from many of these supplements, but it's best to check with your vet to see which fit in best with your pet's diet and current health concerns.

Dietary Health--Diet is still a key component in any wellness program. Dietary needs differ greatly depending on whether you have a kitten or puppy, a senior pet, a pet with a weight problem or other health issues such as kidney disease or diabetes. Read labels on pet foods carefully and check with your vet to see what type of food and portions are recommended for your pet.

Digestive Health--Even with a healthy diet, some pets may have some digestive issues. They may need extra help to get their digestion back on track. A supplement such as Bactaquin may help both cats and dogs restore their digestive health.

Liver Health--A healthy liver is also important to your pet's overall health. If your vet detects liver problems, you may want to consider Denosyl chew tabs. These have been shown to markedly increase levels of glutathione in the liver, which can encourage liver cell repair and regeneration.

Skin and Coat Health--Proper grooming is very important to your pet's health. Regular brushing and, for dogs, a regular shampoo go a long way toward keeping their coats healthy, plus can help you spot changes in their bodies. For a healthy coat, dogs and cats may also benefit from Omega-3 fatty acids derived from salmon and other cold-water fish. Dermaquin soft-gel twist caps for cats and dogs provide Omega-3 in a treat form.

Joint Health--Arthritis is a common problem for aging pets. Keep an eye on your pets' activity level and talk to your vet if they start to slow down. Just as with humans, joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may ease some of the pain by healing cartilage damage. These nutrients can be found in Cosequin Soft Chews, which can be given to your pet like a treat.

To learn more about pet health supplements, go to www.entirelypets.com or call (800) 889-8967.

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Pointers On Protecting Your Pets From Poisoning

(NAPSI)-By being alert to the danger, you may be able to keep your precious pets from poisoning themselves.

The Problem

Pet owners often joke about pets being like vacuum cleaners--literally eating anything put in front of them. Unfortunately, that lack of dietary discretion too often results in pets ingesting toxic substances, emergency visits to the veterinarian and large medical bills.

The Top Troublemakers

The nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance has analyzed its database of nearly half a million pets to find the sources behind the thousands of poisoning claims it receives each year. Here is a ranking of the 13 most-common pet poisoning claims Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) sees:

1. Accidental ingestion of medications (pet or human drugs)

2. Rodenticide (mouse and rat poison)

3. Methylxanthine toxicity (chocolate and caffeine)

4. Plant poisoning

5. Household chemical

6. Metaldehyde (snail and slug poison)

7. Insecticide

8. Heavy metal toxicity (lead and zinc)

9. Toad poisoning

10. Antifreeze poisoning

11. Walnut poisoning

12. Alcohol toxicity

13. Strychnine.

Accidental ingestion of pet or human medications is the most common type of poisoning. The most expensive type of poisoning, heavy metal poisoning, can cost more than $1,000 to treat.

What To Look For

It helps if pet owners are alert to signs of trouble. "Depending on what substance the pet has ingested and the amount, the reaction can be sudden, with the animal exhibiting alarming symptoms such as staggering, vomiting, drooling, seizures and even loss of consciousness," said veterinarian Carol McConnell. "We recommend that pet owners be aware of which items around their homes can be harmful to their pets--medications, insect poisons, chocolate and certain nuts--and keep these items safely out of reach."

An Example

Consider the case of Patricia Reinhold of North Las Vegas, Nev. She spent nearly $500 at her veterinarian's office after her Pomeranian Baxter managed to sip up a spilled beer. She knew something was wrong when Baxter began to stumble and fall over.

"Most people might not worry about this, or think it was funny, but I wasn't about to take a chance with Baxter," said Reinhold. "We took him to the vet, who put him on an IV and flushed his kidneys to get the alcohol out of his system. He recovered, but a couple weeks later we had to take him in for a precautionary liver test to make sure that he had all his enzymes and liver function."

Reinhold's quick thinking highlights the importance of preparation in the event of a pet emergency. Pet owners should keep the phone number of their pets' regular veterinarian and a number for an emergency veterinary hospital handy at all times and have a financial plan for handling unexpected pet expenses.

"I'm the kind of person who wouldn't hesitate to spend $10,000 on my pets," said Reinhold. "So for me, having pet insurance isn't about never having to pay for my pets' veterinary bills or saving money but getting help with the things I know I will have to pay for, and I like knowing that help is there. Because you can guarantee that with a dog like Baxter, I haven't seen the end of it."

Learn More

For more information about pet poisoning prevention and poisoning first aid, visit the Pet Poison Helpline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com. For more information about pet health insurance, visit www.petinsurance.com.

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Help Me Heal Program Saves Mutt-i-grees® with Disabilities

(NAPSI)-Franklin is an amazing Chihuahua Mutt-i-gree® puppy, whose life may not have been spared had he not been rescued by North Shore Animal League America, the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization.

Franklin was born with a deformity of his hind limbs that prevents him from being able to bear any weight on them. Because of this he must pull his hind legs; which could eventually cause more damage if he doesn't get the help he needs. But even with his physical challenges, Franklin is just as frisky as any normal young pup, happily playing with his toys.

A team of expert veterinarians at the Animal League is seeking solutions for little Franklin, as well as exploring the opportunity to see if he is a candidate for surgical correction. If surgery isn't an option, a special program will be developed that will include extensive rehabilitation, which will teach him how to walk using a special cart. This mobile device will help him get around by keeping his legs propped up and ensuring that his legs and body are protected from any further damage.

Because of Franklin's special needs, he has been placed in the Animal League's Help Me Heal Program. This program will make sure he gets all the care he needs for as long as necessary. Whether surgery, a cart, physical therapy or just loving hands to hold and comfort him, Help Me Heal provides everything this little pup will need.

You can help care for Franklin and all the dogs, cats, puppies and kittens in the Animal League's Help Me Program by Making a Donation. Your generosity will ensure that these animals receive the care they need, and allow the Animal League to continue rescuing animals with treatable disabilities or medical conditions. Every one of them deserves a chance to be happy and healthy.

For more information about Franklin and the Animal League's Help Me Heal Program, visit www.AnimalLeague.org/HelpFranklinHeal.

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A Oral Hygiene Is A Key Part Of A Cat’s Health

(NAPSI)-There is good news for cat owners concerned about their pet’s well-being. There are practical steps they can take to promote better feline health.

The key is to schedule regular visits to the vet. Not having such visits to the vet can leave many feline health issues unchecked.

For example, one issue that can easily go unnoticed often starts in the mouth. According to feline veterinary specialist Dr. Margie Scherk, oral health problems such as plaque and gingivitis rank second only to obesity among health issues in felines.

“Any disease that affects the mouth can result in pain and thereby impact the well-being of the cat,” said Dr. Scherk. “In addition, bacteria and other pathogens from periodontal disease can easily get into the cat’s bloodstream. Veterinarians believe that these bacteria and pathogens put the cat at greater risk for developing heart, kidney, liver and respiratory diseases.”

How do you know if your cat has periodontal disease? Dr. Scherk suggests watching for changes in eating habits first. If their mouth hurts, there’s a good chance they’ll skip supper. Other things to watch for include sneezing, nasal discharge, facial swelling, tearing eyes and less effective grooming habits.

According to Dr. Scherk, pet owners can promote better health with daily oral care at home. While daily toothbrushing is the gold standard in oral care for pets as it is for humans, fewer than 1 percent of cat owners report that they are able to accomplish that, according to the American Pet Products Association’s annual pet owner survey.

Fortunately, there are easier alternatives that are considered effective, including treats such as Feline Greenies Dental Treats.

The treats are 100 percent nutritionally complete and balanced for adult cats, have less than two calories per piece, and are available in a variety of flavors at pet product retailers and many veterinary clinics. A new, larger, 6-ounce package makes daily control of plaque and tartar that contribute to periodontal disease even more convenient.

Said Dr. Scherk, “Giving treats to our cats is an important part of the relationship, but they should be healthy treats that are good nutrition and have a health benefit to the pet.”

To learn more, visit the website at www.greenies.com.

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Driver's Ed For Dog Owners

(NAPSI)-When dog owners are behind the wheel of a car, their dog can drive them to distraction. And that, it appears, can lead to dangerous situations for both.

That's one of the key findings of a recent survey that examined what happens when dog owners take their dog with them when they hit the road.

Doggie Distractions

The survey was conducted by North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization--AAA--and Kurgo, which makes products specifically designed for traveling with your dog. The survey found that 31 percent of respondents admit to being distracted by their dog while driving, while 59 percent say they have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog.

More than half--55 percent-- have petted their dog while driving, and one in five--21 percent--allowed their dog to sit in their lap.

Other distracting behaviors that drivers admitted to include giving food and water to their dog (7 percent) and playing with their dog (5 percent). These kinds of behaviors can distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.

Unrestrained Risks

Unrestrained dogs can be a danger to a driver, a passenger and to the dog itself. An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents stated that they have driven with their pets on a variety of car trips including day trips, local errands and leisure trips or to work, the pet store or dog parks. However, only 17 percent use any form of pet restraint system when driving with their dog.

Safety Tips

To increase driver and pet safety, here are some tips:

• The use of a pet restraint system, such as those available from Kurgo (www.kurgo.com), can aid in limiting distractions and help protect your pet.

• Keep your dog in the backseat, as you would a child. Being in the front seat can expose a dog to being injured if the car's air bag is deployed.

• Remember, a dog near a driver can interfere with both a driver's physical and mental ability to operate the vehicle. When a dog blocks the brake pedals or takes the driver's attention off the road, it has become a safety hazard.

To learn more about keeping yourself and your dog safer while driving, visit www.AAA.com or www.kurgo.com. Pet owners who want to take their pet on a longer trip can find all the information they need to make their vacation easier and safer in "Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook," which includes pet-friendly, AAA Approved property listings and advice on traveling with pets. Visit www.aaa.com/petbook.

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Tips For Keeping Pets Slim, Trim And Healthy, Naturally

(NAPSI)-If you think obesity is an epidemic that affects only people, you may be barking up the wrong tree. Pets also have to watch their weight.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 44 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats are overweight or obese, and that percentage is rising, with older animals displaying an even higher incidence of falling victim to those extra pounds. Veterinarians report that overweight pets are also more likely to suffer from arthritis, heart and respiratory diseases, liver disease, skin problems, hip and joint disorders and diabetes.

"Just as for people, eating right and getting exercise are fundamental to a pet's health," says board-certified veterinary nutritionist Dr. Edward Moser. "Paying attention to the ingredients and amount of food that your pet consumes, along with increasing their activity levels, will help the pounds come off and stay off."

To help fat cats and pudgy pooches slim down, Dr. Moser says owners should choose a balanced diet for their pets with ingredients that can help naturally solve this challenging health problem, such as that from Wellness® Natural Pet Food. For those plump feline friends, Wellness® Healthy Weight is just the remedy. This special, lower-calorie recipe is formulated to help them achieve their weight-loss goals. A healthy blend of fiber satisfies hunger, and guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin support overburdened hips and joints. For health-striving canines, Wellness® Super5Mix® Healthy Weight Recipe is a satisfying, lower-calorie blend of ingredients that helps less-active dogs maintain a healthy body weight and overweight dogs lose weight. And it satisfies dogs' appetites with increased fiber, reduced fat and a lower calorie count.

Instituting a controlled eating plan is a step in the right direction to main taining your pet's health, but increasing your pet's activity level is sure to help, too. Exercise is essential for a pet's happy and long life. It doesn't have to be strenuous, but regular exercise is key. Setting aside a period of time each day for your pet's physical activity helps encourage a routine and also gives your pet something to look forward to. Take your dog for frequent walks and be certain your cat has room to romp. That can help them burn off excess calories. "Remember, two extra pounds on a small dog can be like 20 extra pounds on a person," says Dr. Moser. "It's important to watch your pet's weight."

For more information, visit www.wellnesspetfood.com.

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