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Informative Articles

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Pets Get Cold Too

Posted on January 15, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Living in Arkansas, you should already be aware of the risks posed by our warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but don’t forget that cold weather can also be a threat to your pet’s health as well. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather.

Know the limits: Just like people, pets' cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet's tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog's walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing's disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet's temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.

Provide choices: Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.

Stay inside: Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It's a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it's untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

Check the paws: Check your dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes.

You may be able to reduce the chance of ice accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog's toes.

Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog's feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly.

Wipe down to prevent poisoning: During walks, your dog's feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet's feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.

Stay home: Hot cars are a known threat to pets, but cold cars also pose significant risk to your pet's health. A car can rapidly cool down in cold weather. It becomes like a refrigerator and can rapidly chill your pet. Pets that are young, old, ill, or thin are particularly susceptible to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Limit car travel to only that which is necessary, and don't leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.

Provide shelter: We don't recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire.

Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.Heated pet mats should also be used with caution because they are still capable of causing burns.

Be prepared: Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather and power outages. Prepare a disaster/emergency kit, and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.

Birds, Fish, & Reptiles: Bear in mind that your fur babies aren’t the only ones susceptible to the cold. If you regularly place your bird cage near a window there may be drafts that can cause dramatic temperature changes for your feathered friend. Fish and reptile aquariums also must maintain a constant temperature and may need to be relocated during the frosty months.

Keep an eye on all your pets during the winter and fear not, summer is coming. (Then we can complain about the heat.)



Boarding Kennel or Pet Sitter

Posted on November 18, 2017 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (4)

As the holidays approach, many of us make plans to visit family and friends. It is not always convenient to take Fluffy or Fido with us. Long car trips can be stressful for our pets, especially cats. Also, Grandma’s house may not be accommodating for your pet. Plane trips present a myriad of travel issues. Now you are faced with a decision, to board or hire a pet sitter? Boarding kennels can be an option for some. But what if you have an animal with special needs or a senior pet or one that doesn’t play well with others? Does your fur baby require more individual attention? What if your pets are more exotic? Kennels don’t usually board ferrets, rats, birds or reptiles. A pet sitter may be the better option.

Whether you decide to board or hire a sitter, plan ahead as both book up quickly during the holidays and peak vacation times. Do your homework. Check with friends, family, your groomer or veterinarian for referrals. Ask people you trust who they would leave in charge of their pets. Make a list of questions and concerns so you don’t forget anything important.

If you decide to use a boarding kennel, take a tour. Look for cleanliness. How does the place smell? What is the noise level? What does the play area/exercise area look like? Is it free from debris and waste? Is there grass or just dirt or concrete? During your tour, notice the animals boarding there. Do they seem stressed? Are they clean and comfortable? Do they each have a bed, blanket or towel to lay upon? Is there ample space for the animals? Remember that most kennels book to capacity during the holidays.

Does the staff member you speak with take notes, seem professional? How many staff members do they have? What are the credentials and experience of the staff? How many pets are let out at one time? Are the play times supervised? If the kennel is not staffed 24 hours a day, when is staff present? Are they asking the proper questions? Any reputable kennel should be concerned with whether your animal is up to date on vaccinations. They should also be asking if your pet is taking any medications or has any special needs. Does Fido get along with other dogs or will he need to be exercised individually? Is Fluffy a social kitty or does she need to be left on her own? This is basic information a kennel must take into consideration in order to insure your pet’s safety and comfort.

If you decide that your pets will be happier at home and you want to go with a sitter, interview the sitter with your list of questions in hand. First you must decide if the pet sitter will be hosting Fido at their own home or will be dropping in at your house. Going for a visit to the home of someone they know and trust can be a welcome distraction, especially for your dog. Getting out of the house means they won’t be searching for you around every corner. It means more individual attention for your pet and leaves your house out of the equation.

However, sitters who come to your home often offer other services as well, such as picking up mail and newspapers, feeding fish, or watering plants. Having the pet sitter turn lights off and on also gives the impression that someone is home, a deterrent to burglaries. Your pet gets to stay in familiar surroundings and you have the peace of mind of knowing someone is checking on your house. No matter which way you choose to go, there are questions to be answered.

What to ask: If your pet is staying with the sitter; do they have other pets? If so, will they get along? Have you seen their home and is it appropriate? (Someone with a small apartment might not be a good fit for your Great Dane.)

If they will be dropping in on your home, will they be available for Fido’s early morning walk? How about his late night potty? Be sure the sitter can accommodate your pet’s schedule. Regardless of whether it will be at their home or yours, you need to check for basic information.

What are the sitter’s qualifications? Have them come by for an interview with your pet. How does your fur baby react? Is the sitter taking notes about your pet’s special needs? Do they ask good questions? Do they have recommendations from others who have used their services? Call the references. Once you decide to use a sitter, leave clear instructions.

Be specific about medications and feeding instructions. Leave contact information for your veterinarian and your emergency numbers. Stock extra food and supplies just in case you are delayed. Show the sitter important safety issues of your home; security system, sprinkler shut offs, breaker boxes, and water shut off. Make the sitter aware of your house rules. If Fluffy is not allowed on the counters or Fido is restricted to treats only at night, let them know. The more information they have, the better they can care for your pet.

Sitter or boarding kennel, remember that no one can make your pet as happy as you. (Although, my cat always gives me the cold shoulder for a while when I return from a trip. He wants me to know how displeased he is with me. The dog makes up for it with mad excitement. My kitty cuddles come later when he is convinced that I am contrite about leaving him.)

Happy traveling!





Posted on October 17, 2017 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)


 The axolotl is a fascinating creature. Called the Mexican Walking Fish (not a fish) or Mexican Salamander, it lives permanently in water. Axolotls occur in many colors from white to black and various hues in between. Some, dubbed piebald or harlequin have mottled markings or even more than one color. They are found in Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco near Mexico City. They tend to live in bodies of freshwater. Sadly, many of the Mexican lakes that they once inhabited have dried up. This is due to changing climates and humans moving into locations that were once left alone for aquatic life. They only thrive in bodies of water that are very clean. As a result, axolotls are listed as critically endangered. Fortunately, they are widely raised in captivity as pets and for research purposes.

     Axolotls possess a permanent smile and doll-like eyes. Their unique appearance is largely attributed to the phenomenon known as neoteny. Ordinarily, amphibians undergo metamorphosis from egg to larva (the tadpole of a frog is a larva), and finally to adult form. The Axolotl, along with a number of other amphibians, remains in its larval form throughout its life. This means that it retains its gills and fins. The animal is completely aquatic, and although it does possess rudimentary lungs, it breathes primarily through its gills and to a lesser extent, its skin.

     Axolotls are not demanding in respect to their accommodation. Adults can measure 6 to 16 inches in length, requiring a minimum size tank of 10 gallons for one. They do not require a filter but do tend to be messy eaters, leaving behind a portion of their food when eating. (So a filter is actually a good idea) Uneaten food should be removed from the tank daily to help keep the tank clean. Most owners will find a filtered aquarium easier to maintain than one without a filter since unfiltered water will need frequent changing. However, if you do choose to have a filter on the tank, the filtration rate should be fairly slow. Powerful filters that create strong currents should be avoided. Also, be sure that the filter intake is not in a position to trap the gills of your axolotl. If you have a filter, safe cleaning would consist of using a siphon to vacuum the bottom of the tank and a 20 percent water change should be done weekly. If you are not using a filter, you will have to do a 20 percent water change every day or every other day. Never do a full water change as this creates a situation where the water chemistry changes too drastically for your pet axolotl. Tap water should have any chlorine or chloramines (added during the water treatment process) removed using commercially available solutions. Never use distilled water and make sure the pH of the water remains between 6.5 and 7.5 (neutral).

     The tank should be kept in a cool room away from bright sunlight. The water temperature should be kept cool, between 57-68 degrees, and never allowed to get above 75 degrees. No special lighting is required for axolotls. A hiding place to get out of the light may be appreciated. An aquarium castle or flower pot placed on its side is perfect.

     If gravel is used on the bottom of the tank it needs to be coarse. Fine gravel might be ingested during feeding and cause an obstruction. Some owners opt to simply leave the bottom of the tank bare, although others believe this may stress the axolotls since they can't get a foothold on the bottom of the tank without gravel. Tank sand is a more a desired substrate.

     Juvenile axolotls can be cannibalistic towards each other, so they are best raised in separate enclosures. Adults can potentially be housed together but watch for cannibalistic tendencies. Of course, if a body part gets bitten off by a tank mate, an axolotl can regenerate it over time but this should never be encouraged or allowed.

     In the wild, axolotls feed on snails, worms, crustaceans, small fish, and small amphibians. In captivity, they can be fed a variety of brine shrimp, small strips of beef or liver, earthworms (wild caught worms can carry parasites), bloodworms, tubifex worms, frozen fish foods, or commercial fish pellets. Pellets can also be purchased directly from the University of Kentucky where they breed and distribute axolotls to laboratories and classrooms through their Ambystoma Genetic Stock Center.

     Axolotls are not particularly active but their unique appearance makes them an interesting pet.




Reptile of the Month - Crested Gecko

Posted on September 11, 2017 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

     Crested geckos were once thought to be extinct, but were "rediscovered" around 1994. Since then their popularity as pets has continually increased. The crested gecko is semi-arboreal, spending most of their time in low shrubs and small trees. Versatile, hardy and easy to care for, they make great pets. Crested Geckos may be expected to live 10-20 years. However, as they are relatively new to the reptile hobby, this is a bit uncertain.


     Crested geckos usually have relatively docile temperaments, though they can be a bit skittish. Care is required when handling. They may try to jump and be injured. Crested Geckos can drop their tails if handled improperly, but unlike other geckos they will not regenerate their tails. They tolerate moderate to heavy handling even when they are relatively young, however you should not handle geckos that are less than two weeks old, or geckos that have recently been purchased or moved. There is a recommended one to two week acclimation period for newly acquired geckos which allows them to settle in and get used to their new surroundings. Once they are settled in, you can introduce your gecko to handling a little at a time. Five minutes of handling per day for the first few weeks is sufficient to allow your gecko to become used to you. Once they are comfortable with you, you can begin to handle them more. No more than 15 to 20 minutes of handling per day is recommended so as not to stress the gecko too much.



     The substrate used on the bottom of their enclosure is important as cresteds may ingest the substrate while hunting. Coconut fiber substrate is best as it is easy to clean and lasts several weeks before needing to be changed. It also retains moisture to help maintain humidity levels. Soil with leaf litter and moss is best in enclosures with live plants. Crested geckos do require moderate humidity. In most cases this can be accomplished by misting the cage once or twice a day. A good hygrometer or thermometer/hygrometer combo meter is a valuable tool. Ideally the humidity level should not drop below 50%. Crested geckos should get several hours of higher humidity (80-100%) every day to ensure that they shed properly. Misting heavily once or twice a day will achieve the required higher humidity levels. Always make sure the cage is well-misted at night when the geckos are most active. It is very important to allow the cage to dry to normal humidity levels in between mistings. If the cage is wet and humid all of the time, problems with shedding and bacterial infections can arise.

     Crested geckos typically drink water droplets from the sides of their enclosure and from any plants or cage accessories. This is one of the reasons it is important to mist your geckos daily. It is also recommended that a small dish of clean water is present in the enclosure at all times. Water should be changed daily.


     A commercial crested gecko diet is usually well accepted and is the easiest way to ensure a well-balanced, nutritious diet. It can be supplemented with crickets and other prey insects for variety and to allow the gecko to exercise his hunting instincts (roaches, waxworms, silk worms and mealworms are best avoided due to their hard exoskeleton). Any insects fed should be slightly smaller than the space between the gecko's eyes, should be gut loaded prior to feeding and then dusted with a calcium/vitamin D3 supplement. Fruit can be fed several times a week as well. Try mashed fruit or jarred baby food; they often like bananas, peaches, nectarines, apricots, papaya, mangoes, pears, and passion fruit. Feed in the evening. Juveniles should be feed daily but adults do not need to be fed every day (3 times a week is recommended).

     Crested geckos are nocturnal so they do not need special UVB lighting. However, some experts feel providing low levels of UVB lighting is still beneficial to their overall health (one must make sure the enclosure does not overheat and that the geckos can hide from the light if desired). A red night time bulb allows viewing when they are most active as well as providing some heat.

     Crested geckos need room to climb so provide a mix of branches, driftwood, cork bark, bamboo, and vines at a variety of heights and orientations. Add a variety of silk and/or sturdy live plants (pothos, philodendron, dracena, or ficus) as they will hide in the plants for cover.




Pac-Man Frogs

Posted on August 9, 2017 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)


     Pac-Man frogs come in a variety of colors and are known by many common names (Argentine horned frogs, ornate horned frogs, and horned frogs). Due to their ease of care, and the availability of captive-bred specimens, Pac-Man frogs make great pets. Under optimal conditions, these frogs can live up to 15 years in a captive environment.

     Pac-Man frogs are sit-and-wait predators. They spend the majority of their time burrowed into the substrate with their eyes (and horns in some species) above. Because of this, caging does not need be spacious. Babies can be kept in small, plastic reptile enclosures, and adults can be caged in terrarium enclosures of 10 to 20 gallons with a screened lid.

     Line the bottom of the terrarium with 2 to 4 inches of coconut-fiber or bark bedding; enough for burrowing. This substrate should remain damp, but not soaking wet. It is recommend to keep a water bowl in with the Pac-Man frog in case the substrate becomes too dry for them. Remove droppings frequently and change out the bedding completely at least once a month.

     In captive environments normal room temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees are recommended. If necessary, use a heat light or an under-tank heater to warm the terrarium. A thermometer in the habitat will help you monitor the temperature. Pac-Man frogs enjoy hiding spaces. Live plants, such as Pothos, not only provide hiding spots but also help to process feces and CO2.

     One quality that sets Pac-Man frogs apart from other frogs is their voracious appetite. A staple of crickets and/or roaches is best, but they can also eat fish, worms and even small mice. The amount of food you feed them is based on the size and temperature of the frog. If allowed to cool down and dry out a little bit, Pac-Man frogs can enter a brumation state (Brumation is a term used for the hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals utilize during very cold weather or in the case of frogs, during dry periods) where they will refuse food. The best gauge for how much to feed your Pac-Man frog is to study your frog’s appearance. You want your Pac-Man to be round but don’t let your frog become a hog. In nature Pac-Man frogs gorge themselves when food is plentiful to compensate for when food is scarce. Cut back on his feeding, if your Pac-Man is looking unnaturally pudgy.

     Habitat humidity should be between 50% and 80%. Appropriate live plants in the terrarium will help regulate the habitat’s humidity level. Consult resources on tropical frogs for a list of appropriate plants. Use a hygrometer to keep track of the moisture in the tank. Know your pet. Live Pac-Man frogs are sometimes mistaken for dead Pac-Man frogs. When their substrate dries out and/or food is scarce, the Pac-Man will encase itself in a tough outer skin to protect it from drying out. They won't move and they look like they are dead. Once rehydrated, however, they will shed this outer skin (and eat it.) So be sure to keep his environment moist.

     Pac-Man frogs are nocturnal (more active at night). They don’t require sunlight, but they do need lighting that mimics day and night in their habitat. If it’s in a dim room, light the terrarium for 12 hours a day with a fluorescent bulb. At night, switch to a night-specific bulb so you can watch your pet with minimum disturbance.

     Pac-Man frogs have teeth, and large Pac-Man frogs can and will draw blood if you stick your hand in front of them. As with all frogs, handling should occur only when absolutely necessary, as their skin is very sensitive. This is the perfect pet for observation.

Heat Advisory 2017

Posted on July 19, 2017 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Summer is here. It’s the time of year when we want to pile the kids and pets in the car for a road trip. Or perhaps you just need to run some errand and no one wants to be left behind. Think twice before loading up the entire family. Of course everyone wants to go but do they need to go? Our pets always want to be with us but we can show our love for them by leaving them at home.

You would think that an article like this would be unnecessary but every year when the temperatures rise there are more stories about children and pets left in hot cars to perish. If you are familiar with the facts, remind someone who needs a refresher.

It only takes a few minutes in the summer heat for things to go horribly wrong. A quick trip to the store for that “one thing” can last a lot longer than you think. Personally, I can never get out of the store with just “one thing”. As items get added to your list, the minutes tick by. And what happens when you run into your neighbor and stop for a word? Sure, your conversation only lasts a few minutes but add that to your growing grocery list and you’ve easily been away from your vehicle for twenty to thirty minutes. 

It takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heatstroke and suffocation. Most people don't realize how hot it can get in a parked car on a summer day. However, on a 78 degree day, temperatures in a car parked in the shade can exceed 90 degrees -- and hit a scorching 160 degrees if parked in the sun!

Even when the outside air temperature is in the 60s, temperatures inside some vehicles can reach the danger zone on bright, sunny days. Many experts recommend not to leave pets or children in parked cars even for short periods if the temperature is in the 60s or higher.

Rolling down a window or parking in the shade doesn't guarantee protection either, since temperatures can still climb into the danger zone. And if the window is rolled down sufficiently, the pet can escape.

Want numbers? An independent study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. And cracking the windows doesn't help.

Elapsed time Outside Air Temperature (F)

70   75   80   85     90     95

0 minutes 70   75   80   85     90     95

10 minutes 89   94   99   104  109   114

20 minutes 99   104 109  114  119   124

30 minutes 104 109  114 119  124   129

40 minutes 108  113  118 123  128  133

50 minutes 111   116  121 126  131  136

60 minutes 113   118  123 128  133  138

> 1 hour 115   120  125 130  135  140

Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees in moments. Factor in humidity/heat index and results are more horrifying. Consider that the average daytime temperature in Arkansas this time of year is typically in the mid to upper 90's. Is it really worth the risk?

Symptoms of overheating in pets can include increased heart and respiratory rates, drooling, and excessive panting. Particularly at-risk populations include animals with flatter faces (such as pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats), elderly or overweight pets, and animals with previous heart or lung conditions.

Love your pet enough to leave them home. If they must go, plan well so that there is no instance when your beloved pet might have to be left alone in the vehicle.


Ticks, Summertime Pest

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Just about every pet owner living in Arkansas knows at least a little something about ticks. Any time our pets spend time outdoors, there is the chance that they may come into contact with the pesky buggers. After the mild winter we had, this year is shaping up to be a bad one for the pests.

     Ticks are external parasites that live on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Dogs and cats can pick up ticks from almost anywhere, but most commonly from walking in tall grass or woods, where they can lie in wait for months. Ticks belong to a different group of parasites (arachnids) and are related to mites, spiders and scorpions. The most common ticks in the United States include the brown dog tick, American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, deer tick and Lone Star tick.

     Ticks feed on many different animals during their life cycle, including rabbits, squirrels, opossums, dogs, cats, cattle, deer and humans. And for that reason, ticks are very good at transmitting disease: they feed for long periods of time, take in large amounts of blood and are usually distributed over wide areas of the country.

     Ticks can carry an array of harmful diseases that can infect your pet and their bites can cause reactions and irritations that will make your dog uncomfortable and unhappy. But it’s not just your pet you need to worry about – ticks aren’t picky! Not only will ticks attach themselves to your pet, they also like humans, and the diseases that they carry can affect you too. Although tick bites can become infected the main concern is that they are vectors (a disease carrier) and transmit both bacterial and viral diseases.

     They can transmit Lyme disease, the number one vector-borne disease –– a disease transmitted from one host to another by an insect or arachnid ––of humans in the United States. Ticks may also carry Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a number of other diseases. You should protect yourself and your pets from ticks year-round, particularly if you live in the country or rural areas; or if you walk your pet near wooded areas or places with tall grass. Ticks are most active in the warmer months, from April to September.

     The milder temperatures and increased humidity in the summer provide ideal conditions for survival and increased reproduction rates for these problem pests. Also, pet owners and their pets are more likely to encounter fleas and ticks during warm-weather strolls or outdoor events. Fortunately, there are many safe and effective flea and tick preventive products that can help us control these parasites.

     Ticks are repelled with DEET or Permethrin. Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts.

     Over the counter spot-on medicine (Like K9 advantix II) can be bought from your retail pet store and should prevent ticks from biting your pets. To get the most effective treatment, follow the repeat application procedure at the set time. Some medicines last for up to 3 months, but in the summer, or if your pet is particularly prone to tick bites, it’s best to use a monthly treatment.


     Using a special shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will help to prevent ticks attaching to your pets. This is a less expensive method, but you will need to repeat the process regularly. The active ingredients won’t last long!

     The CDC recommends that, if your dog spends time outdoors, check them for ticks daily. Also, check your felines, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. You can check your pet for ticks by running your hands all over their fur. If you notice any strange lumps or bumps, carefully part the fur to examine. Be sure to check all the favorite places where there’s plenty of blood supply and not much fur – in and around the ears, on their bellies and the inside of their legs. Ticks come in all shapes and colors, usually between the size of a pinhead and a fingernail.

     Tips for tick removal:

• Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.

• Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

• After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.

• Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet.

     One of the best ways to stop your dog contracting a tick is to avoid the places they are likely to be. Ticks normally live in tall grass and woods, waiting to jump onto the first warm blooded creature that brushes past. To avoid this, try to keep your dog to paths and routes with short grass. This is unlikely to be the best solution, as we all know a dog loves nothing more than running through long grass on a hot day.

     Additional Control Measures

• Vacuum indoor carpets and solid surfaces using a vacuum with a rotating bar.

• Vacuum furniture using appropriate attachments.

• Wash bed linens, pet bedding and rugs frequented by pets.

• Mow lawns regularly.

• Clear brush, leaves and tall grass from around houses, gardens and walls at property margins.

• Stack wood off the ground in a dry location away from the house.

• Clear gardens, including remains of perennial plants, after the growing season.

• Consult with your veterinarian and a licensed pest-control specialist to assess the need to use pesticides in selected areas in and around your home.

     Follow these suggestions and keep up with regular treatment for pest prevention to ensure a healthy and happy summer. 


Preparing a Place for Your New Reptile

Posted on April 12, 2017 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (1)

Reptiles! The very word conjures up a variety of responses, ranging from “Eeeeww, gross!” to “Way cool!” Fueled in part by changes in international wildlife importation laws, the resurgence of interest in dinosaurs and increasing numbers of two-paycheck families that have less time and live in smaller spaces, reptiles have been the fastest-growing segment of the pet market. 

     When it comes to reptiles, cold-blooded is a way of life, not a character trait. Reptiles are capable of recognizing people by voice, sight and smell; many are capable of learning. Some species actually benefit from interaction with humans. When cared for properly, all live as long or longer than mammalian pets of similar size.

     There is no generic reptile. Reptiles have adapted over time to an amazing range of habitats and lifestyles, from underground to the tops of trees, from below sea level – and in the sea – to high up in the mountains. They are endlessly fascinating.

     As the guardian of a reptile, you get to learn about everything from adaptation, behavior and the environment, to nutrition, camouflage and reproductive strategies. Learning about the natural history and proper captive care of these animals just might change your world outlook and get you thinking more about the environment as a whole.

     Finally, before bringing your new reptile home, be sure that you have already set up an enclosure for it, complete with appropriate substrate, lighting, heating and furnishings. Don’t make your reptile wait until you have time to get everything together or can afford to get what he needs. (Melissa Kaplan, Petfinder)

     Reptiles – even captive-bred specimens – are wild animals who must live in a simulated version of their natural habitat. Different species require vastly different husbandry parameters, although the most important aspects to address for most species are the enclosure size, temperature, lighting, humidity and furnishings. In most cases, reptiles do not require a habitat that visually resembles their natural habitat; most merely require a cage that functions like their natural habitat.

Habitat Size

     Your pet reptile will spend the majority of his life inside his cage. Accordingly, it is important to provide a suitably large habitat to ensure your pet has enough room to get adequate exercise and to engage in typical behaviors. A cage that's too small can be detrimental to mental health.

     Different species require different amounts of cage space. As a general rule, some of the most common small reptile pets – such as (Python regius) and kingsnakes (Lampropeltis spp.) – require 2 to 10 square feet of cage space. Cages of these sizes are readily available commercially, but for larger species it may be necessary to construct your own cages. Some common pet species, such as green iguanas (Iguana iguana), water monitors (Varanus salvator) and Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) require closet- or room-size cages.

Heating the Habitat

     Most pet reptiles require habitats that are warmer than the temperatures at which most people keep their homes. A variety of commercial heating products exist – consider heat lamps, heating pads, heat tapes and radiant heat panels, which make it possible to manipulate the temperature of your pet's cage. Whatever heating device you decide to use, place it at one end of the cage. This allows you to establish a thermal gradient, giving the animal access to a variety of temperatures.

     The warmest side of the cage – the basking spot – should be between about 85 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species you keep. Typically, forest- and mountain-dwelling species prefer lower temperatures than desert-dwelling reptiles do. In all cases, use a high-quality digital thermometer to monitor the cage temperatures.

Habitat Illumination

     Some reptiles do not require any supplemental lighting; the ambient light from the room is sufficient. This is true of most snakes and nocturnal lizards – especially those who naturally live under the permanent shade of a forest canopy. Conversely, turtles and diurnal lizards almost invariably require high-quality full-spectrum lights to remain healthy. These lights must not only produce bright visible light, they must also produce ultraviolet rays – specifically those in the UVA and UVB frequency ranges.

     Keep the lights on a consistent schedule by plugging them into an automatic timer. If your pet hails from the tropics, keep the photoperiod consistent all year long. However, it is wise to adjust the light schedule for temperate species to reflect the changing seasons. For example, give your North American green anole (Anolis carolinensis) about 14 hours of light in the summer, 10 to 12 hours of light in the spring and fall, and 8 hours of light in the winter.

Habitat Humidity

     Different reptile species require different humidity levels to thrive. Most species that hail from forests require higher humidity than those evolved to live in drier climates. Increase cage humidity by incorporating a larger water bowl in the habitat, dampening the substrate or misting the cage with water. The best ways to lower cage humidity are to reduce the size of the water bowl or increase the amount of ventilation in the cage.

Furnishing the Habitat

     Now that you have an enclosure with proper temperature, light levels and humidity, you must add substrate, a water dish and any furnishing necessary. The substrate's primary job is to absorb liquids and facilitate cage cleaning. In many cases, this means that you do not have to use the same kind of substrate your pet lives on in the wild. Instead, you can use paper towels, newspaper, hardwood mulch or shredded aspen. Burrowing animals require a particulate substrate, but surface-dwelling or arboreal animals often thrive on a newspaper substrate.

     Additionally, almost all reptiles require hiding places. These can take the form of natural-looking items such as hollow logs and pieces of bark, or utilitarian items like plastic tubs and cardboard boxes. You can add decorative items, such as, photographic backgrounds or faux rock walls, but these are primarily beneficial to the keeper rather than the kept. Arboreal species require suitable climbing furniture. (Habitats of Reptiles by Ben Team)

     However you decide to decorate, make sure that all items are properly cleaned and sanitized before you add them to the enclosure. This will reduce the chance of introducing bacteria and pathogens that may be harmful to your reptile friend.


Posted on March 3, 2017 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (1)

When you think of extra nutrition for your dog or cat, you may not always think of goat milk. The truth is that goat milk is a nutritionally complete food. It actually has a nutritional profile quite similar to human mother’s milk. Goat milk is generally well tolerated by humans, cats, and dogs. The American Journal of Medicine states that goat’s milk is “the most complete food known”.

     Though traditionally thought to be good for cats and kittens, cow’s milk is not. It stimulates the production of mucus and is much harder to digest. Goat’s milk, however, is easily digestible because of its’ smaller molecular size. Goat milk has been touted to counteract inflammation and contain some anti-viral properties that may benefit and enhance the immune system.

     According to, orphaned kittens should be fed goat’s milk. Over the past century, milk from cows and other species has been closely studied and analyzed for its nutrient content, as well as for specific micro-nutrients. Researchers have found that the basic composition or macro-nutrients in milk varies from species to species. Dog and cat milk, for instance, has a higher fat and protein content than the milk from most species like cows and sheep. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because carnivorous cats and dogs differ from cows and their physiology and dietary needs.


     Goat milk, not cow milk, is actually the most consumed milk in the world. When we think of milk, we think of cows. But throughout history, people around the world have enjoyed fresh, raw and fermented milk from a variety of species including yak, camel, reindeer, donkey, water buffalo, sheep and goat.

     Often referred to as the universal mammalian milk, goat milk is now gaining popularity in the United States, for both people and our pets. Can something so simple actually be beneficial for our dog and cat’s nutrition? That’s the case with Raw Goat’s Milk!

A short list of the conditions it can help with includes -

• Skin conditions

• Allergies

• Urinary Tract Infections

• Kidney Disease

• Kidney Stones

• Cancer

• Obesity

• Diarrhea

• Constipation

• Poor Digestion

• Picky Eaters

• Anti-Cancer


     Goat’s milk contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, probiotics, and fatty acids. At Safari Pets, we carry PRIMAL RAW GOAT MILK. Raw means unpasteurized. Pasteurization destroys all the enzymes, diminishes the vitamin content, denatures milk proteins, and kills beneficial bacteria. PRIMAL adds natural spices and probiotics to enhance the nutritional benefits for your pet.

Spices added to the goat milk:

• Cinnamon is added as an antibacterial/anti-fungal and can assist with arthritis and muscular inflammation in older animals.

• Ginger is added as a digestive aid and natural antioxidant.

• Turmeric is added as natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, detoxifier and anti-cancer herb.

Probiotics added to the goat milk:

• Lactobacillus Acidophilus– Increase immune resistance against harmful bacteria and fungi such as Candida albicans, Salmonella, E. Coli, and Staphylococcus aureus; Helps control intestinal infections, which reduces the potential of diarrhea and other infections or diseases.

• Lactobacillus Lactis: Able to synthesize both folate and riboflavin, two key B vitamins. Produces large amounts of lactic acid.

• L. salivarius- In one study printed in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (1998). L salivarius, was able to produce high amounts of lactic acid (urease) and completely inhibited the growth of H. pylori in a mixed culture; H. pylori is the main causal agent of duodenal ulcers.

• Enterococcus Facium- Provides important nutritional support in the event of diarrheal diseases, especially in cases when such pathogenic microbes, as rotavirus, invade the bowel. A transient bacterium, E. faecium needs to be replaced continually. In several studies, it has proved resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics and proved to be more effective than L. acidophilus in shortening the duration of diarrheal episodes.

     Primal Raw Goat Milk is a great tool to help with digestion but it also helps pets obtain their daily need for moisture. Dogs’ and cats’ bodies are about 65% moisture and unlike humans, they are designed to obtain the majority of their water from the foods they eat. By adding raw goat’s milk (which is 88% moisture) to the pets’ diet they will gain needed moisture as well as the benefits from raw nutrients.

     Primal Raw Goat Milk is sold frozen, and should be stored in a freezer prior to use, thawed and served within 10 days.

Let’s break down the different ways raw goat’s milk can benefit your pet!



• Digestive Issues (colitis, diarrhea, IBS, and more!): Raw goat’s milk is packed with probiotics. In fact, there are over 200 species found in raw goat’s milk. There are also prebiotics which are the nutrients probiotics need to thrive. Those, mixed with the enzymes found in raw goat’s milk help the gut to establish healthy flora (bacteria, microbes, yeast, viruses, and protozoans) that will ease digestion and help alleviate any digestive issues. Raw goat’s milk is so easily digestible, the digestive system requires little work and absorbs it within 20 minutes.

• Underweight or malnutrition: Since raw goat’s milk is a great source of easily absorbable protein (raw goat’s milk forms a soft curd which makes it rapidly digestible), it’s perfect for pets that need to pack on a little extra weight. It’s also incredibly palatable so it’s also the perfect food topper for pets that may be a little picky. Raw goat’s milk is an excellent replacement milk for kittens and puppies.

• Arthritis or other joint problems: The enzymes that also help to relieve digestion issues can also help to alleviate inflammation, swelling, and pain related to joint issues. They help speed up tissue repair and improve circulation, alleviating arthritis symptoms.

• Allergies: Raw goat’s milk contains high levels of caprylic acid. This acid helps to fight yeast that often builds up in response to allergies. Allergies can make that yeast multiply which is why a dog who has allergies will often chew at their paws, among other things. (Grain based foods and especially pet food containing corn is often the culprit here. Corn and grains often promote the growth of yeast in the system.) Also, like the good flora that gets built up in your pet’s GI system, raw goat’s milk will also help that healthy flora to establish on the skin and in the ears which will help curb any infections that often are linked to allergies. Raw goat’s milk is also a natural antihistamine.

• Cancer: Many researchers have found that carotene (or Pro-Vitamin A) contains cancer preventing properties. The milk fat in goat’s milk contains a higher evolved carotene that is readily available for the body to absorb. There is also a fat in raw goat’s milk, called conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA), that is known as the cancer fighting fat. CLA has actually been shown in some cases to shrink cancer tumors.


     Raw goat’s milk can be fed to both dogs and cats. Worried your pet might react badly due to lactose-intolerance? Pasteurization removes the enzyme lactase which combines with lactose to make simple sugars that are easy to digest. If the lactase isn’t there, the lactose remains harder to digest. If you use raw goat's milk, since it’s not pasteurized, there should be no issues. Stop by the store this week to pick up a bottle of Primal Raw Goat Milk for your pet!





PET DENTAL HEALTH (1st published 2/15)

Posted on January 13, 2017 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)


We all (hopefully) think about feeding our pet the best food and making sure that they have fresh water. We take them to the groomer to get their hair done and keep their nails trimmed. We talk to them and sometimes even sleep with them cuddled up next to us because we love our pets. But often, even the most loved animals suffer from serious health issues because we neglect their teeth.

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs. The sad fact is that it is also absolutely preventable. 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some level of oral disease by the age of 3 years. Unchecked, this can lead to more than just bad breath. The build-up of tartar, plaque and bacteria in the mouth can result in infection, severe pain, tooth loss, and even damage to the liver, heart, and kidneys.

Signs of periodontal disease include unusually bad breath, bleeding gums, throwing up undigested food (because they eat without proper chewing), increased salivation, or pawing or rubbing their face. If your pet is avoiding hard food or crunchy treats, it could be an indication of tooth pain or gum sensitivity.

Regular visits to your vet are a must. The good doctor can let you know when it is time for a dental cleaning. This procedure involves sedating your pet and removing tartar and plaque build-up on the teeth and under the gum line. There is, however, a lot you can do to reduce the problems and lessen the number of cleanings needed.

Daily brushing of your pet’s teeth can be a tremendous help in preventing periodontal disease. No, your Oral B and Aqua Fresh won’t do the trick. There are brushes made especially for cats and dogs as well as tooth paste in flavors to their liking. In most cases, gentle daily training over the course of 3 to 4 weeks will have your furry friend accepting their daily brushing. Of course, it is best to start when they are young as with any training, and consistency is key.

There are a number of dental chews and dental treats specifically designed to clean your pet’s teeth. These products can reduce plaque and freshen breath. Some also have vitamins and minerals beneficial to your pet’s health. Some toys are dental specific, designed to promote chewing and fashioned to clean the teeth. There are also dental sprays and water additives. All of these are good supplements to pet dental care. Your pet store should have a variety of these items.

We all do so many things to keep our furry family members happy and healthy. Let’s not neglect their smiles.