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Family Matters: Home Sweet Home


Home Sweet HomeIt’s easy to make a home sweet home for your feathered friends.

First, you have to choose the right cage for your bird. The right space can affect your bird’s happiness and health. You want it to be the right fit for him in a variety of ways.

If your pet bird is small, he needs room to fly back and forth. If he’s larger, he still needs space to flap his wings, play with toys and move about. If your bird has an exceptionally long tail, he needs a tall cage able to accommodate those feathers.

For all birds, the cage should be made of sturdy, nontoxic materials. A painted cage might look cute, but you don’t want your bird chipping away at the paint. It goes without reason that the cage should be escape-proof for the bird, but you also might want to make sure your bird is safe inside from small hands, like a child reaching through. The spacing of the bars should keep your bird inside and safe.

When furnishing the cage, the same rules apply to an apparatus as it does to the cage: make sure it’s sturdy, safe and clean. Provide a shallow water bowl and make sure the substrate is far enough below the floor of the cage that the bird can’t reach it with his beak.

Place your cage near natural light, but make sure it doesn’t get too hot or drafty. Keep it away from fans, A/C or heating units, and small children.

If you line your cage with newspaper, try to find one that uses a soy-based ink, as it’s nontoxic.



Family Matters: Hot Weather Safety for Your Cat


Hot Weather Safety for Your CatThe best place for your cat during summer months is inside. If your feline gets frisky and needs to go outside, there are ways you can help keep him cool.

First of all, provide plenty of water and shade. An automatic water bowl provides fresh, clean water all day long. Make sure there is a porch, patio or tree cover in your yard to help provide shade for your cat. Cats are likely to seek cool places under a porch, house or other structure, so make sure those places are safe and secure for your cat.

Groom your cat frequently to remove his excess hair, and also to check for fleas and ticks. Your vet can prescribe medications and topical ointments to help treat and prevent both.

If you have an inside cat, it’s cute to see them curled up on a windowsill, but make sure that area doesn’t get too hot for your cat. Those areas inside can get just as hot as places outside.

Of course, never leave your cat in a hot car.



Family Matters: Hot Weather Care for Your Dog


Hot Weather Care for Your DogMy pup, Astro, is not a huge fan of the summer months. While he doesn’t have a heavy coat, he, like all dogs, is totally covered with hair! That keeps him hot. He solves this problem by digging a swimming pool-sized hole in the backyard and lying on the cool dirt.

If you don’t want your dog digging to China to stay cool or if you can’t control it, there are other ways to help him through the warm months.

First of all, make sure he always has access to plenty of clean, cool water. I fill Astro’s bowl with ice in the morning before I leave, and it keeps his water cooler during the day.

If your dog stays outside during the day, make sure he has adequate shade. If a tree, porch or patio isn’t available, consider installing a camping canopy or other shade to give him shelter from the sun. Some pet owners provide a hard-plastic child’s wading pool filled with a few inches of water, depending on the size of your dog, to splash around in. Drain every evening as to not attract mosquitoes.

Don’t over-exercise your pet on hot days. If your dog is already accustomed to taking a walk, it’s probably still fine, but bring water with you. Make sure he drinks when you’re finished. Limit your walks to the cooler parts of the day, and never walk your pet on hot asphalt. Remember, you have shoes on, but he does not.

If your dog goes outside, check him regularly for fleas, ticks and other insects that creep and crawl, especially in hot weather. Your vet can prescribe both internal and topical treatments for these pests.



Family Matters: First Aid for Your Small Pet


First Aid for Your Small PetTreating your small pet, like a hamster, guinea pig or mouse, at home can be difficult. Parts are small, and these animals are extremely skittish when hurt. They can even snap and bite at you.

There are measures you can take at home to help your pet before you take them to a veterinarian. Small cuts probably don’t need to be treated professionally, but remember that your small animal doesn’t have a lot of blood volume. So, if you’re in doubt, take him to the vet.

At home, hold or secure your pet firmly (but not too tight!) by wrapping him in a clean towel. Use the body of a syringe (without the needle) to flush the wound with saline or clear water. Dry with gauze and apply an antibiotic ointment. Keep him isolated from other pets until the wound heals.



Family Matters: First Aid for Your Feathered Friend


First Aid for Your Feathered FriendWe strive to keep our pets safe, but accidents can still happen.

Birds can run into a window, get tangled in their cages, or even have a close encounter with another pet.

If your pet is injured, use your best judgment on getting it to a veterinarian, but there are measures you can take at home to help, too.

If your bird has broken his wing, cut the toe off of a sock and slip your bird into it, pulling his head out the cut end so he can breathe. The wing is bound by his side and he can’t flap it. See your vet.

If the bird is bleeding, use baking powder or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Then, place a gauze pad over the bleeding and apply appropriate pressure. If the wound is on its leg or foot, apply antibiotic ointment and cover.

In the case of an encounter with another pet, use hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound and cover it. Your bird should be taken to the vet for an exam.

Keep your bird at rest after an injury. Make sure they are warm, dry and in a peaceful environment. If you suspect infection or shock, take him to the vet immediately.



Family Matters: Introducing Your Cat to Your Baby


Introducing Your Cat to Your BabyWhich came first, the baby or the pet?

In a lot of cases, the pet came first and the baby joins the family later. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be an either/or proposition.

Plan ahead as you prepare to welcome baby into your family.

Set boundaries with your cat and the baby’s room immediately. Keep the door closed, or firmly remove the cat whenever he enters. Make sure the nursery is deep-cleaned to remove pet hair or dander, especially if it was a room your cat used to frequent. Do not let your cat sleep on the baby’s bouncy chair, crib, rocking chair or anything else that will be exclusively the baby’s.

Take your cat to the vet to make sure he is up-to-date on all of his shots before the baby arrives.

Keep the cat’s nails trimmed.

If the cat is accustomed to being held, get him used to sitting next to you instead of on your lap.

Do not tolerate any aggression toward the baby, and monitor them closely until you know how your cat will react to his new family member.



Family Matters: Introducing Your Dog to Your Baby


Introducing Your Dog to Your BabyFido was your first baby, but now there’s going to be another one. One who will probably take more kindly to being dressed up in adorable outfits and Halloween costumes.

The first thing you have to do is set clear boundaries for the baby’s space. Even if your pup is super gentle, he’s also probably a lot bigger than your new bundle of joy. Make the baby’s room off-limits to your pooch, just for safety. Go ahead and set up the baby’s swing, bouncy seat and portable play mat, and teach your dog not to touch them.

After baby is born, have your partner bring a burp cloth or blanket home from the hospital before baby arrives. Then, have him hold it at a distance from your dog, teaching your pup some restraint with the little one.

When your baby is ready to come home from the hospital, it’s best that your dog is calm and ready. Maybe take him for a long walk first, so he’s a little tired out. Your dog can sniff near the baby, but most dogs will get the idea pretty quickly.

As your baby grows, also teach him how to touch the dog gently and with respect.



Family Matters: Bird Safety


Bird SafetyDid you know that your pet bird is the adventurous sort?

Well, he is!

The first way to keep him safe is to make sure his environment, in most cases, his cage, doesn’t pose any unseen dangers. Make sure the bars are close enough together so that he can’t fit his head through, or else he might get it caught. Use a water bottle and feeder that are designed for your cage and that don’t pose an extra safety risk. Check doors and spring-locked mechanisms so that your bird can’t get a beak, head, wing or foot trapped either.

If your bird is allowed to fly around your house, make sure the house is bird-proofed, too. Watch for crayons, household cleaners or foods that are harmful to birds. Blankets, yarns, threads in sewing supplies, ropes, macramé decorations and small toys, such as Lego bricks, can also be hazardous. Put away table salts and insecticides, too.

Certain houseplants are toxic for your bird, including avocados, calla lilies, coffee beans, eggplants, Jerusalem cherry, milkweed, mistletoe, philodendron, tobacco, tomatoes, Virginia creeper and yew.



Family Matters: Small Pet Safety


Small Pet SafetySmall animals like hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and mice can make great pets, but you have to keep them safe!

First of all, make sure their habitat is secure, and they can’t escape! Take care to make sure cage lids, latches, doors and other openings can’t be pried open by your small pet. Also, make sure no one else in your house (i.e. curious children) can leave them open by mistake.

Then, make sure that large pets don’t have access to your small pet. Cats and dogs can definitely be a danger to a hamster, gerbil or other small animal.

Make sure the lining in a small pet’s cage or crate is appropriate. Dryer lint isn’t safe to use for pets because it’s flammable.

When you let your pet out of the cage, make sure they are being monitored and can’t scamper easily under any furniture or appliances.

Finally, do not sleep with your small pet, as you run the risk of suffocating them.



Family Matters: The More Movement, The Merrier


The More Movement, The MerrierYour small pet, like a hamster or guinea pig, spends most of his day in a cage, so he needs a good outlet for exercise.

You can purchase a tunnel system for many small pets, which extends the area in their cage and gives them a great opportunity to climb and run. If your cage doesn’t accommodate this type of exercise run, build one within safe confines where your pet can’t get loose, and let him work his way through it.

You might have to start by hiding a small treat in the tubing to help motivate your pet to move through the course.

A wheel is also a great form of exercise. Hamsters, gerbils and mice especially love to run on a wheel mounted in their cage.

Create an enclosure (outside of the cage and in a much larger space) where your pet can roam free. They will like the feeling of vast freedom that they will experience.

Small balls are wonderful playthings, as your pet will chase them.

Finally, invest in a collar and leash for your small pet. You can walk them, too.



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