How to save money on pet care

(NewsUSA) - Owning a pet has a lot of perks, but caring for one can take its toll on your wallet. According to the ASPCA, owning a dog or cat can cost up to $1,000 in the first year, and many people end up spending much more. The good news is you can cut your pet care expenses without compromising your pet's health and well-being. Here are a few ways you can save money and keep your pet healthy.

1. Don't skip the vet.

If you're trying to save money, it can be tempting to cut back on veterinary visits. But according to Julie Ciarmella of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, "an investment in preventive healthcare can reduce your long-term pet healthcare costs." Why? Because regular check-ups can prevent expensive complications down the road.

2. Get by with a little help from your friends.

Dog-walking, pet-sitting and kennel services can be some of the most expensive aspects of owning a pet. You can save money by taking the "you scratch my dog's back, I'll scratch your cat's chin" approach and tapping into a network of other pet owners in your area. Neighborhood dog parks are great places to meet like-minded pet lovers; or, you could try good old-fashioned advertising. 

3. Choose high-quality pet products that give you more value for your money.

Reaching for the cheapest product can feel like a thrifty move, but you may be surprised by the impact "cheap" products can have on your budget. For example, cheaper clay cat litter needs to be changed more often, so cat owners go through bag after bag. World's Best Cat Litter is an alternative that harnesses the concentrated power of corn for long-lasting performance. You'll use less litter, replace it less often and save money in the long run. 

In the end, remember that what your pet needs most is love. Keep things simple and invest in high-value products where it matters, and you'll be on your way to a pet care budget that works for you.

Posted on July 24, 2017 .

Pet peeves

Close The Lid On Cat Litter Odors

A little care on your part can help you enjoy the company of your feline friends without your company noticing litter box odor.

A little care on your part can help you enjoy the company of your feline friends without your company noticing litter box odor.

According to the ASPCA, there are more than 85 million pet cats in America. If one (or more) of them is yours, you may have noticed one aspect of cat companionship that’s less than delightful: the litter box. Fortunately for cats and their humans, following a few steps can help keep the odor down and the litter box use up.

What You Need To Know

To help keep your home from smelling like cat litter, you need to have the right number of litter boxes and deal with them promptly and properly.

• Veterinarians recommend you have at least one more litter box than you have cats: two boxes for one cat, three for two and so on. That will make sure your cat always has a place to go.

• When adding the litter, don’t overfill. Most cats prefer two inches of litter or less. Too deep, and your cat may not like his or her footing and opt to go elsewhere.

• If your cat does miss the litter box, don’t panic. If it’s a onetime thing, treat the affected area with water, vinegar and mild soap and blot dry. If it happens a lot, consider moving your litter box, retraining your cat, or visiting the vet to make sure it’s not a medical issue.

• Be diligent about cleaning the litter daily. One thing that makes that a lot easier is a Litter Genie® Pail with its unique air-tight design and a seven-layer refill bag with odor barrier technology that locks away bad smells and germs. It holds up to two weeks of cat litter for one cat, so you can avoid constant trips to the trash. The Litter Genie Plus range also features an antimicrobial that inhibits odors caused by bacteria on the pail.

All you do is:
1. Scoop
2. Open the lid and drop the clumps
3. Pull the handle to lock it in.

It’s that simple, and locking away used litter can help keep your home smelling fresh and your cat happy.

The refill cartridges last up to eight weeks with one cat, and the compact pail fits in bathrooms, under kitchen sinks and in other small spaces.

Contest For Cat Lovers

You can be part of the mission to banish cat litter odors from homes at #StopCatLitterSmell. Throughout May, the brand will give away 10 pails a week for four weeks across its social channels, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with one overall winner receiving over $2,000 worth of prizes, including $1,000 toward a chosen cat rescue, $1,000 to splurge on your cat, and a Litter Genie Pail with a year’s supply of refills.

Learn More

Litter Genie® is available in Petco, PetSmart, Target, Walmart, Amazon.com, Chewy.com and other retailers where pet products are sold. For further facts and tips on cat care and litter odor control, go to www.littergenie.com.

For more details on how to enter the #StopCatLitterSmell competition, go to @littergenie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. - NAPSI

Posted on July 18, 2017 .

Preparing your home for puppy love

Loyal and lovable, dogs make exceptional friends and family pets, but there are a few things to consider before bringing one home. Whether you’re interested in a new puppy or a rescued dog of any age, below are some useful tips to help incorporate a new pet into the family:

Choose wisely—When selecting a dog for your family, remember that different breeds are known to exhibit specific traits. Animal trainer April Mackin explains: “Cocker spaniels, for example, tend to be sweet-natured, playful dogs that make great family pets, but being a sporting breed, regular exercise is especially important for them, so make sure those traits blend well with your family’s personality.” 

Make a good first impression—When meeting your new dog, whether at a pound or a pet shop, give the animal a chance to get to know you. “A bad idea would be to overzealously hug the animal and smother it with kisses, as that could feel very invasive,” encourages Mackin. “Give him time to sniff and approach you, allowing him to warm up to you gradually.”

Prepare the home—Those first few days when a dog is introduced into your home are crucial for a successful transition into your life. To make his new environment welcoming and safe, set up protected areas like a crate or a zone that’s been contained by a baby gate. Be especially mindful of any areas your pup might get into in the backyard. Those new spring bulbs, for example, might be poisonous if eaten, and the fertilizer, even if organic, can be harmful to your pet if ingested.

Prepare the family—Discuss the training that needs to be put into your new pet’s first few months. One great way to start is to watch a classic puppy love film together such as “Lady and the Tramp,” just released in a brand-new Blu-ray and DVD Diamond Edition for home viewing. The film is family friendly, portrays many situations you’ll encounter with your new pet and can be paused while you discuss issues as they arise. 

Set rules—Perhaps most important when training a new pet is to decide as a family what the rules will be for your dog and commit to being consistent with those rules. Mackin asks, “Is it okay for him to be on the sofa? If the answer is no, then be sure everyone knows this and agrees to follow this rule.” When training an animal, it’s important to be kind but also firm, even if the dog whines or begs. Setting and following rules will help your new pet understand what is expected and your pet will be happier knowing he is doing the right thing.

Schedule bathroom breaks—If dogs learn that they will be let out regularly, it’s easier for them to become house trained. They need to trust that you will take care of them and respond to their needs. “Praise your dog every time he goes potty outside at first,” says Mackin. “They want to please you, so they’ll pick up on this faster if they think it gets them rewarded. Rescue dogs may try to mark inside your home the first few days, but this behavior will diminish with gentle yet firm reminders. Puppies may require extra patience, as sometimes they simply can’t hold it.”

Make time for exercise—Mackin reminds: “Pets need regular exercise just like people and daily walks are a great way to accomplish this.” Be sure to use a leash for safety unless in an area safe from traffic or crowds. 

Reward good dogs—When your dog successfully “does his business” outside, comes when called or just waits patiently at the door while you gather his leash, heap on the praise! “Your dog is looking to you for signals affirming good behavior,” says Mackin. 

Be patient—Sometimes a dog may be distracted, tired or just need more time to learn a command. It’s important not to let out your frustration on the dog. “Keep training sessions short—two to three minutes—and if things aren’t going well, take a break and come back to it when you’re calm and both you and the dog can focus,” says Mackin. If you think you may need help, go to your local SPCA or vet and ask where they would recommend you go for some local dog training classes. - NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

How to decide if a cat is right for you

Cats can be loving, loyal, feisty or fierce—and if you saw the hit movie “Puss In Boots,” then you know one cat can embody all those traits and more. Adopting a cat can be a “purr-fectly” wonderful idea as long as you understand the commitment that comes along with it. Before bringing a cat home, consider these tips from Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA):

• Evaluate your needs. Are you ready to make the commitment to a pet? Cats can live up to 18 years. On average, pet care costs about $400 a year.

• Visit a pet adoption center. Don’t shop when you can adopt. Shelters have many cats to choose from and adoption saves lives. 

• Questions? Ask the staff. The shelter staff can often tell you the animal’s personality traits, likes, dislikes, temperament, breed, and activity level. Keep your options open. A pet doesn’t have to be a kitten to be a loyal companion. 

• Patience. Be patient. You may need to visit the adoption centers a few times before you find the cat that’s right for you. 

• Decide as a family. Does the cat get along with everyone and how does everyone get along with the cat?

• You made a decision, now what? Here are some items you should have before bringing your new cat home: ID tag and breakaway collar, cat food, pet bowls (2), litter box (rule of thumb: one for each cat, plus one), litter and scooper, toys, treats, scratching post, cat carrier (for vet trips/ emergencies) and a plan for veterinary care.

• We love our new cat, but we’re having some issues. Don’t give up. The solution may only require a slight adjustment in behaviors. spcaLA has an Animal Behavior Hotline at (888) SPCALA-1, x260 to answer pet behavior questions. 

Even if you’re not quite ready to commit to a real cat, you can still enjoy how entertaining they can be by watching DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss In Boots,” which is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. This hilarious origin story of the notorious fighter, lover, and outlaw tells the true tale of how Puss became a hero long before he met Shrek. Featuring the extraordinary Antonio Banderas as the voice of the irresistible and legendary cat, “Puss In Boots” boasts a sensational cast of voice talent including Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris. - NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

Helping your pets take a bite out of poor health

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Dog owners who think a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s are barking up the wrong tree—and they are not alone.

In fact, according to a recent survey, many pet owners have beliefs about their pet’s health that are not accurate or grounded in science.

For example, the study—commissioned by the Greenies brand, the maker of dental chews and treats for pets-found that almost half of pet owners believe that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans’ and that any type of chewing is good for a dog’s teeth. 

It also found that about 40 percent thought it was normal for their pets to have stinky breath. About one-third of pet owners believed that a dog’s saliva was capable of curing human wounds.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding a pet’s oral health,” said veterinary dental expert Dr. Jan Bellows, incoming president of the American Veterinary Dental College. “Dogs’ mouths are certainly not cleaner than a human’s. Dogs often carry a variety of germs and bacteria in their mouths that stem from buildup of plaque and tartar that can potentially make humans sick through contact with saliva.”

The Right Kind of Chewing

“Many pet owners also believe that any type of chewing is good for their dogs, but tooth fractures are a common occurrence in pets because teeth can only withstand a certain amount of pressure from hard objects before they break. When pets chew on inflexible items, such as bones, ice cubes or nylon toys, it can put them at risk for breaking a tooth. And while smelly breath in pets is common, pet owners who believe this is normal may be missing the signs of poor oral health or potential dental disease,” Dr. Bellows said. 

A Healthy Mouth Is Key

A healthy mouth is essential to the overall well-being of pets, but misguided information about pet oral health can affect more than just your pet’s mouth. For proper pet oral health, veterinarians advise daily brushing or giving of Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)−approved dental treats, and at least annual oral exams by a veterinarian with professional cleanings as recommended. 

“Pet owners who are knowledgeable about their furry companions’ oral health will avoid the pitfalls of commonly held myths and enable the best care for everyone’s well-being,” said Dr. Bellows. 

To learn more about commonly accepted pet oral health myths and how to keep your pets’ mouths healthy, visit www.Facebook.com/greenies. - NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

Ensure the pets you love with a pet food containing L-carnitine—an ingredient that loves them, too

by JOHNNY LOPEZ, PH.D.

When it comes to pet food, most people give little thought to the ingredients in the bag. Fortunately, in some pet foods, there’s a multitasking molecule—L-carnitine—that can do your animal a world of good. Here’s how: 

Burn, Baby, Burn

L-carnitine helps transport fatty acids inside to the cell’s furnace (that is, the mitochondria), where they can be converted into energy for the body to use for breathing, eating, resting, metabolism, activity and so on. It helps pets stay lean and live longer, while also helping with extra energy. 

Surprise! 

Fat is good for the heart

An estimated 80 percent of the energy to run that vital organ comes from fat. Together, fat and L-carnitine can generate the fuel the heart needs to keep up with the daily beat. The largest concentration of L-carnitine resides in the heart and skeletal muscles. In order to maintain a healthy heart in all stages of a growing animal’s life, make sure the pet food that supports heart health includes L-carnitine. 

Muscles need more than spinach

Skeletal muscles require constant energy—and there, L-carnitine plays an important role. It also helps optimize blood flow, which is controlled in and out of the muscles via clamps in the capillary beds. It’s important that these clamps remain open so muscles get the nutrients and oxygen they need. L-carnitine helps keep these clamps open, helping muscles with their maintenance, function and recovery. For senior pets, it can help maintain muscle mass. 

Antioxidants: To serve and protect

The body continually produces free radicals, which can wreak havoc on it. When free radicals come into contact with cell membranes, they can cause cell death, loss of tissue integrity and a weaker immune system. One way to keep free radicals in check is with antioxidants, which the body produces to fight them. L-carnitine was recently shown to help the body crank out more of its own antioxidant defense by turning on its antioxidant genes. It helps the body produce its own defense to control free radical damage. L-carnitine also offers overall support of immune health. 

Giving Them L-carnitine

It’s estimated the body can produce only about a third of the L-carnitine it needs—the rest must come from food and dietary supplements. That’s where a company called Lonza comes in. It’s recognized as the global L-carnitine expert and leader in the manufacturing of CarnikingTM—a special grade of L-carnitine developed for pets. Savvy pet parents look for CarnikingTM L-carnitine in pet foods used in weight management, in active formulas, and in foods designed to help support muscle development and function in animals of all ages. 

Learn More

You can get further information about L-carnitine and animal health from your veterinarian and online at www.carniking.com. - NAPSI

• Dr. Lopez received a master’s in animal science and a doctorate in monogastric nutrition from the University of Missouri.

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

The Best Way To Protect Pets From Parasites

While there are many reasons to be happy about mild weather, dog owners know that warmer days can put their dogs at an increased risk for flea and tick infestation. Flea and tick bites are not just annoying. These pesky bites can expose dogs to a number of parasite-borne diseases.

Itchy fleabites can turn into open sores from constant scratching and lead to infections and serious skin problems.

Tick bites can transmit Lyme disease, which in dogs can cause joint damage, kidney, heart and nervous system damage. People can get infected, too. 

The best way to solve a flea and tick problem is to prevent one. Being proactive is the best practice and a comprehensive system of pest prevention is the most effective. Some people may try to save money by not buying treatments for their pets but that can lead to spending more on veterinarian and doctor bills later. 

A comprehensive system involves treating not just your dog, but also your home and, if necessary, your yard.

Start by protecting your dog. Make it a year-round practice to use flea and tick topical drops or a collar. Just because parasites are more prevalent during the warmer months does not mean your dog is not at risk during the rest of the year. 

If you find yourself with a flea problem, act quickly, as this can turn into a full-blown infestation in no time. Here is a handy solution checklist:

• Topical drops. Take care of your pet with a flea & tick treatment such as Hartz® UltraGuard Pro® flea & tick treatment for dogs. This treatment will provide immediate relief by starting to kill fleas within 15 minutes and will last a full 30 days.

• Deflea your home. Unlike ticks and mosquitoes, which only breed outdoors, fleas can thrive indoors. Female fleas start producing eggs 24 to 48 hours after taking their first blood meal and can lay up to 50 eggs per day. These eggs are laid on your dog and easily fall off onto bedding, carpets, furniture and everything else your dog comes in contact with. Where your dog rests and sleeps becomes a primary habitat for eggs and developing fleas.

Treat your home with products that kill adult fleas plus flea eggs and flea larvae, breaking the flea life cycle. 

Should you find a widespread infestation, use a home fogger to alleviate the problem.

• Don’t forget your yard. The final step in a complete pest management system is taking care of your yard, a place where fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can be prevalent.

Ticks find their hosts by climbing on grass, shrubs and other outposts. To fully protect your dog, be sure to use products such as Hartz UltraGuard Yard Spray to eliminate multiple types of pests outside your home.

For over 85 years, Hartz Mountain has provided products to keep pets healthy. An Ask The Vet section on its site can answer pet-related questions.

For more information, visit www.hartzultraguard.com. - NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

Protecting your pet from parasites

Pet owners now have an easy way to protect their pets from the unpleasant experience of a tapeworm infestation.

How do you know if your dog has tapeworms? Traditional testing methods use a stool sample (feces) to detect many parasites, including hookworms and roundworms. But if your dog has tapeworms, this test will often be negative. In most cases, the diagnosis is made when you see these segments crawling either on the fresh stool sample or on your dog’s rear end.

But what do they look like? Well, bits of tapeworms are most commonly compared to cucumber seeds or grains of rice, just wigglier. When they dry out, the tapeworm segments become hard and yellowish in color (think sesame seeds) and may stick to the hair, fur or even your pillow.

New research from Auburn University shows that tapeworm infections in dogs may be much more widespread than previously recognized. The new testing method indicated that 45 percent of over 1,000 pet dogs tested positive. Earlier studies placed that average at 1 percent prevalence of tapeworms found in dogs.

Most tapeworm infections occur when your dog eats a flea or small mammal that carries an early stage of the worm. They are not directly transmittable to you (unless you eat fleas and small mammals), and most tapeworm species cause minimal health problems, with a few exceptions. 

“Since winter has been mild across the country, we can expect to see an increase in parasites, with fleas and wild animals bringing in a variety of problems,” states Dr. Heidi Lobprise. “Even when you are providing flea control on your pet, it’s difficult to control every pest in the environment, so you need to be aware that diseases such as tapeworms can still be transmitted.”

How can you protect your dog? Fortunately, with a little knowledge and one easy step, you can keep heartworms, tapeworms and other worms from rearing their ugly heads. Prescription products available from your local veterinarian like IVERHART MAX® (ivermectin/pyrantel pamoate/praziquantel) Chewable Tablets can help. IVERHART MAX Chewable Tablets are a once-monthly preventative that can help treat and control roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. Contact your local veterinary clinic and you can start protecting your dog today; or to learn more, log on to www.virbacpets.com or www.petsandparasites.org. - NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

Helping your pet get ready for the road

Investing a little time and effort before you leave can pay big dividends when traveling with your pet. Here are some tips that can help keep you and your pet on the road to happiness:

• If traveling by car, the experts at the ASPCA recommend using a well-ventilated crate or carrier. Make sure it’s large enough for your pet to move around in. It can help if you let your pet get used to the carrier before you leave.

• Pack a travel bag for your pet. Include a bowl, food, water, leash, plastic bags and grooming supplies. Additionally, remember your pet’s favorite toy or pillow. 

• If your pet still shows signs of travel anxiety, you’ll be glad to know there are natural remedies that can help. Veterinarian recommended and 100 percent natural, Rescue Remedy Pet is designed to help address a wide range of pet problems including anxious behaviors from travel or change in routine, fear of loud noises, barking or scratching.

You can find Rescue Remedy Pet at Whole Foods and anywhere natural products are sold. Visit www.rescueremedy.com/pets to learn more. - NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

Josh Duhamel gives a “high-five” for adopted pets

Approximately half of the pets that end up in shelters in North America are euthanized before they find a home. That adds up to about 11,000 pets each day—or about 4 million pets this year—that will lose their lives even though the majority are healthy and adoptable.

While these figures might seem staggering, ending pet homelessness is an achievable goal. Everyone can be part of the solution and it starts with adopting your next pet. 

Many Americans believe adopted pets are some of the best companion animals, yet there are many misconceptions about adoption that need to be overcome. PetSmart Charities has teamed up with leading actor Josh Duhamel to launch the High-Five for Pet Adoption campaign in an effort to educate the public about these misconceptions.

Duhamel has been a pet adoption advocate since he adopted Meatloaf, a companion for Zoe, his 7-year-old dachshund. Though he’s passed away, Meatloaf left an indelible mark on Duhamel—that adopted pets are so grateful for the love you have to give them—and he’s committed to raising awareness about the joy that adopted pets bring to our lives.

With Duhamel, the High-Five for Pet Adoption campaign celebrates the 5 million pets that have been saved through PetSmart Charities adoption centers in PetSmart stores, while raising awareness about adoption in an effort to save millions more pets. Duhamel urges others to take action by:

• Donating to organizations that rely on public support to run shelters and programs that save pets. Text PETS to 80888 through August 6 or visit www.petsmartcharities.org to donate $5 and help PetSmart Charities reach its goal of raising $250,000 to help save 10,000 homeless pets.

• Adopting a pet when you’re ready to add a four-legged companion to your family.

• Sharing your story with others about how your adopted pet has brought joy to your life.

One of the biggest barriers to adoption is the belief that “you never know what breed you’re going to get,” yet in the U.S., an average of 20 percent of all adoptable pets are purebred. No matter what type of pet you choose to adopt, consider these four things: 

1. Space. Some breeds spend lots of time sleeping, while others need more room to run and explore.

2. Time. The need for training, attention, play and outings can vary depending on breed type.

3. Kids. If you have children, know the pet’s temperament before you adopt. Most shelters will offer a pet’s history, including temperament, when it’s available.

4. Coat. Some breeds must be professionally groomed to stay healthy and almost all dogs and cats, whether long- or short-haired, shed. How much hair are you ready to handle?

More tips, adoption stories and access to a list of local adoption agencies is available on www.petsmartcharities.org. - NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .