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Family Matters: National Pet Month – Small Animal


National Pet Month - Small Animal

May is National Pet Month and a great reason to celebrate all the people out there who take care of small pets like hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits.

The goal of National Pet Month is to promote the benefits of owning a small pet, support the adoption of small pets, raise awareness of the benefits of owning a small pet for both owners and furry friends, increase awareness of services available from professionals who work with pets, and draw attention to the valuable contribution of working companion animals to society.

So, let’s talk about owning a small animal.

The first benefit is space! You don’t have to have a lot of it, or a yard, or an outdoor space to keep a small pet happy and healthy! They don’t tend to break furniture, chew up your shoes or need to go on walks.

Small pets tend to be fairly clean and keep themselves clean with little effort on your part. They don’t eat a lot and don’t tend to be very expensive, either for initial cost or upkeep. Small animals are also independent, and they’re a great choice if you want the companionship of a pet without having to keep one constantly entertained.



Family Matters: National Pet Month – Dog


National Pet Month - Dog

May is National Pet Month and a great reason to celebrate man’s best friend.

The goal of National Pet Month is to promote the benefits of owning a dog, support the adoption of dogs, raise awareness of the benefits of owning a dog for both owners and furry friends, increase awareness of services available from professionals who work with pets, and draw attention to the valuable contribution of working companion animals to society.

There is a reason dogs are called “man’s best friend.”

If you get a dog, the chances are that the dog is going to love you for life. Dogs are loyal, committed, protective, territorial and playful. They can have a variety of talents and skills. Some dogs will hunt with you. Others are great for herding. Some varieties are great for farms, and others are perfect for your lap.

Dogs, like humans, come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. It shouldn’t be hard to find one that suits you and your lifestyle. Dogs are great with families and with children. They can help protect your house. They will ride in the car with you. They love to be petted, walked and played with.

My dog, Astro, is a 100-lb lap dog. He thinks he’s a lap dog, anyway. He is thrilled when I walk through the door at night. He stands beside me if the doorbell rings. He alerts me any time someone walks into the front yard. He cleans up any food that I drop on the floor. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. He brings so much joy to every day. I can’t imagine not having him around.



Family Matters: National Pet Month – Cat


National Pet Month - Cat

May is National Pet Month and a great reason to celebrate all the people out there whose furry friends are of the feline variety.

The goal of National Pet Month is to promote the benefits of owning a cat, support the adoption of cats, raise awareness of the benefits of owning a cat for both owners and furry friends, increase awareness of services available from professionals who work with pets, and draw attention to the valuable contribution of working companion animals to society.

I ended up owning a cat by accident. My neighbor in an apartment building had a litter of kittens, and it’s a proven fact that you can’t hold a kitten and then walk away without it. Pretty much everything I’d thought about having a cat proved to be untrue. My cat was very loving and very social. She wanted to be held and petted, and she didn’t mind being picked up. She loved water. She would sit on the edge of the bathtub and draw her tail back and forth through the bath water as I bathed. She was very vocal and would greet me when I walked through the door with a series of small meows.

Cats are great pets because they are pretty independent. You don’t have to take them on walks, and they don’t necessarily need to go outside. They are loving and can be good companions. Cats tend to have longer lifespans, don’t need a lot of space, and can groom themselves.



Family Matters: National Pet Month – Bird


National Pet Month - Bird

May is National Pet Month and a great reason to celebrate all the bird owners out there!

The goal of National Pet Month is to promote the benefits of owning a bird, support bird adoption, raise awareness of the benefits of bird ownership for both owners and feathered friends, increase awareness of services available from professionals who work with pets, and draw attention to the valuable contribution of working companion animals to society.

Let’s talk about the benefits of owning a bird. I do not have one myself, so I texted a friend who has a parakeet named Nellie, asking her what benefits she gets from being a bird mom.

“I have constant company, and I really believe Nellie talks to me and carries on conversations,” she wrote back. “Nellie is highly intelligent and communicates effectively without ever saying a word.”

Another benefit of owning a bird is that they have a long lifespan and can be a constant companion over many years.

Birds also encourage humans to be more social, as many of the talking varieties will actually converse with you in a give-and-take exchange.

Having a bird lowers your stress levels as you play with and talk to your pet. It also keeps your mind sharp as you train and work with your pet.



Product Talk: Sunday Brunch


Sunday Brunch Dog FoodIt’s National Pet Month, and there’s no better time to celebrate your playful pup than with a wonderful meal you can get for him right off the shelf at Brookshire’s.

Sunday Brunch canned dog food is prepared with savory lamb, rich rice, hearty potatoes and fresh apples. Your pup will enjoy the feeling of Sunday brunch with the family, and it’s full of whole-grains, potatoes, proteins and apples.

Sunday Brunch is made with omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat for your pup. Cans are good for two meals, mixed with dry food, for a succulent feast for your four-legged furry friend.

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Family Matters: Small Animal Exercises


Small Animal Exercises Your small pet, like a hamster, gerbil or rabbit, might seem to always be active (especially in the nighttime hours), but that doesn’t mean they don’t need some encouragement to exercise.

You can take your rabbit, ferret or other larger small breed animal for a walk on a leash, or provide time for him to move about outside his cage in a safe environment. Rabbits like to hop around in soft grass, so provide an enclosure for them to do so. A harness made for rabbits or other small animals can allow you to take them on a walk as well. (They don’t need to go far.) Just be mindful of keeping your small pet on a softer surface and out of harm’s way.

For your small pet that lives in a cage, like a hamster, gerbil or mouse, provide lots of tunnels that extend beyond the confines of the cage. Your pet will like to climb, explore and run. A running wheel in the main cage is also great exercise, and it will provide hours of movement and entertainment for your small pet.



Family Matters: Caring for your Puppy


Caring for your Puppy Puppy breath, puppy kisses, puppy snuggles. Nothing is better really, but it’s up to you to keep your puppy snuggable, happy and healthy.

When your puppy comes home at about 8 weeks old, you’ll want to have the house ready for him by having an established sleeping area, setting boundaries on where he’s allowed to be, having a designated area for his food and water, and making sure your house is safe from harmful objects and chemicals he might get into.

Although he won’t be fully vaccinated yet, make sure you have a vet and someone you can visit when his next round of shots are due.

Socialize your puppy with any other pets and with family members, especially children. Let them get used to each other slowly, if necessary. Teach small children how to be gentle and play safely with the puppy. Teach your puppy commands so that he also plays safely with the children.

If he is going to use a crate, introduce him to the crate on the very first day.

Take him outside often, on a leash, to the area of your yard where he can use the potty. Reward him for going in the right places.

Establish a routine for feeding, and stay on schedule. Take him outside after he eats to his potty area.

You might want to hang a bell from a ribbon on the back door knob, and teach your puppy to bat at the bell when he wants to go out.

It’s fine to tell your puppy “no” when he’s doing things he shouldn’t. It’s also great to praise his good behavior.

Have plenty of toys for your puppy to play with (so he leaves your shoes and your daughter’s dolls alone). Take him for walks for exercise. Puppies need a lot of exercise!

Make sure your dog is spayed or neutered when it becomes age-appropriate.

Finally, give your dog lots and lots of love, and you will have a best friend for life.



Family Matters: Bird Exercises


Bird ExercisesYour bird probably spends a lot of time in his cage, but he also needs exercise to stay happy and healthy and to have a good temperament.

Birds like to climb. Provide them with a ladder in their cage (and even one outside their cage for when you take him out). They will go up and down the ladder, and they’ll enjoy the exercise and movement.

Let him flap his wings. Take him out of the cage and perch him on your hand. Holding his feet with one hand, “fly” him around in a circle up and down, making large, slow motions with your arms so that he doesn’t get overly excited and flap too vigorously.

Take your bird on a walk. Yes, for real, but probably not outside. A harness made for your bird is perfect for walking him up and down hallways and corridors in your home.

Let him out of the cage, and let him do his own thing. He might fly, if his wings aren’t clipped. He might hop or walk around. Provide a safe environment for him to move about as HE chooses.



Family Matters: Caring for Kittens


Caring for KittensIt doesn’t get much cuter than a fluffy, fuzzy kitten, but you want to make sure your new kitten is as well cared for as he is adorable.

Prepare your home before you bring your new kitten home. Make sure it’s free from any dangers that could cause injury to your new ball of fluff.

Have a fresh, clean litter box ready, and start teaching your kitten to use it the minute you walk through the door. Make sure it’s in a semi-private area and not near any food or water bowls.

Have food and water bowls ready in a place that your kitten will become accustomed to being fed. Leave water out at all times.

Kittens have small stomachs and tolerate small meals more often. Dry foods tend to be best for kittens’ digestive systems. Consult your vet and follow package directions for the amount to feed your kitten by weight. Remember to adjust as your kitten grows.

Microchip your kitten, so if he gets out, you can find him easily when lost.

Spay or neuter your kitten as appropriate when they are old enough.

Keep his vaccinations current, along with any worming medications or flea-prevention treatments. Your kitten will likely keep himself clean, but help him out by cleaning his ears. Make sure he doesn’t get hair balls.



Family Matters: Snakes


SnakesI have bad dreams about snakes.

My sister, who is a therapist, explained that I need to get over my fear of snakes.

I’m not sure I can.

However, they can make good pets.

Corn, King, Gopher and Ball Pythons are wonderful to keep in your house.

For health reasons, a snake should be able to stretch out two-thirds of its body length inside its own cage. If your pet snake reaches an adult length of six feet, its container should be 4 feet in length.  You don’t want your pet snake to have to stay curled up at all times.

Make sure that the type of snake you secure for a pet has a good temperament, as do the four mentioned above. Don’t try to tame an unruly snake; it’s not going to happen.

Take into account their feeding habits. Corn, King and Gopher snakes will accept frozen rodents as feed. Ball pythons are much more finicky, but be prepared to handle rodents, no matter what.

Don’t force the situation. The four snakes listed above thrive in captivity. Not all snakes do so without expert care.

Don’t buy a pet snake because you think it’s cool without careful consideration and study.



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