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  • All About Critters

    Take a look at what it means to have ferrets, rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, and more. Read More
  • Traveling with Pets

    Be sure to check this section out before you hit the road with your pet! We've got a look at pet-friendly hotels, the guidelines of air, train, bus and auto travel, and much more. Read More
  • All About Horses

    Learn about equine science, whether you're an aspiring rider or a long-time owner, we have the latest in products, breeds, and more. Read More
  • All About Reptiles

    A look at our cold-blooded friends and discovering how to care for these fun loving creatures! Read More
  • All About Fish and Ponds

    If you're a novice fish and pond enthusiast, join us as we discover the newest aquariums, beautiful backyards, and plenty of informative information about fish. Read More
  • All About Cats

    Product Reviews, Behavior, health, humor, quotations, feline facts, news and stories. Read More
  • All About Birds

    If the avian life is for you, we've got a look at the best products, interesting species, and how to select and care for birds. Read More
  • Walking on the Wild Side

    Check out our animal profiles, rescues, articles, news and profiles - all about wild animals Read More
  • Behavior Problems? We have answers.

    Learn about behavior from our team of experts. Whether you have cats, dogs, reptiles, horses or birds, we can help you learn to live with them. Read More
  • All About Dogs

    Product Reviews, Behavior, health, humor, quotations, facts, news and stories about dogs. Read More
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  • Guide to Hiking Etiquette with Dogs

    Cooler weather is on the way, and as the leaves change their colors to red and gold hues, it means many of us will be once again hitting the trails with our best four-legged friends.

    Let's face it - nothing cleanses the soul like a relaxing hike through the wilderness. Whether you want to enjoy the rich colors of wildflowers in that remote desert valley, or just want to run a few miles through the pines, it’s important to make sure everyone out there has the same level of enjoyment as you do. So dust off the walking stick and renew your wild spirit, but make sure you follow trail etiquette when you take your pets along.

    Dogs are usually naturals on the trailhead. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch them carefully - there are plenty of dangers in the wild - from poisonous mushrooms to cacti, and coyotes to rattlesnakes (not to mention hunters of the two-legged variety).

    This is why it’s so important to understand the basics of hiking etiquette. Here's a primer to get you started...

    Read More
  • 4 Favorite Pet-friendly USA Hikes

    Nothing cleanses the soul more than a day of hiking in an ancient forest with only yourself and your best four-legged friend as company. I don't know about you, but as I've matured, I've gained a stronger appreciation for the simple things in life. While we probably hiked when we were younger, we may not have noticed the rich hues of wildflowers or the tenacity of a wild mushroom growing under the cover of a 200-year-old pine tree... 

    But before you head into the wilds with your dog, it's important to choose your trail carefully, carry a GPS tracker, know your pets (and your own) limitations, and let others know exactly where you’re going and when you plan to return.

    Hiking with dogs requires only slightly more planning. Rules and regulations vary according to trail-head and park areas, so be sure to contact your local forest service before taking your pets along. Start slowly and work into more intense trail heads or you may find yourself carrying an exhausted dog out in your backpack.

    There’s a hike for whatever part of the country you’re in and whatever skill level you’re working around, but these are a few of our favorite day hikes around the country.

    Read More
  • Treats Your Ferret Should NEVER Be Given

    It’s not always easy figuring out what foods ferrets can and can’t have. We’re here to help. There are certain things you should know about your ferret’s diet, as malnutrition or too many treats can lead to many problems, like bladder stones, obesity, tooth decay, hypoglycemia, and even death.

    This is why it’s so  important that you feed your ferret a proper diet. Your ferret should have access to a high-quality, meat-based diet. They eat very similarly to cats (but you should avoid giving your ferret cat food). Opt instead for either a raw diet (known as "Frankenprey") or a high-quality kibble diet that is designed specifically for ferrets.

    Read More
  • The FeedSafe Feeding Station for Feeding Individual Diets

    In multi-pet homes, keeping pets out of the others food is of critical importance. If you have a chow-hound who loves to invade your cat's food bowls (or any other situation that requires feeding individual diets in multi-pet homes), we have a solution for you.

    The name of this innovative product is the Feed-Safe Feeding Station.

    Feed Safe is a durable enclosure that easily stops larger pets from raiding your smaller pet's food bowl. Not only does this stop other your dog from raiding your cat's food, it can give critters like ferrets a safe place to eat while they're roaming around in their free time. It can also be easily adjusted to help separate kitten or puppy food from the mama-cat or mama-dog.

    This is also a very useful solution for animals who tend to be slow eaters, or those who are on a prescription diet.

    Another unexpected benefit was being able to keep the cats off the counters! We admit - we have some bad habits and the cats will usually eat their canned food on the counter. This is not the cleanest way to handle the situation, but placing the food on the floor became impossible with our quick acting dogs. This is a great way to let your cats eat their canned foods at their own pace without being on the counter top and without being harassed by larger pets.

    Read More
  • Quirky Things We Learned from Our Tortoise #ReptileCare

    When we first adopted Augustine, our Russian Tortoise, we knew absolutely nothing about how to care for a turtle or tortoise. That’s okay. We didn’t need to know everything. Part of the fun of being a pet parent is learning HOW to care for your pet - and that goes for any species. Of course, there are certain things you absolutely must know about any species you bring into your home, like what their diet is and what type of housing they require (the PetMD® Reptile Center at Petsmart® is a great place to begin). But after this, you can discover the details and further information about any animal. Today we're talking about things that probably aren't in the care kit that the store sent you home with.

    Read More
  • Choosing a Ferret as a Pet

    Ferrets are intelligent, mischievous members of the"mustilidae" family, which means they are cousins with mink, weasels, skunks and even the European polecat. These little guys capture our hearts with their antics and are a great addition to any home (as long as you don't live in New York, California, Hawaii or Washington D.C. where ferrets are outlawed). Before you think about purchasing or adopting a ferret, be sure you check your local laws as well as the laws and regulations at local levels (including your home owners association).

    If you've done your homework and you think you're ready to add one of these charismatic creatures to your home, we have a host of articles to help you integrate them into your family and keep them healthy. Remember that a ferret's normal lifespan is 7-9 years, so you need to be sure you're ready to commit that time to this entertaining and affectionate pet.

    Read More
  • Choosing a Rabbit as a Pet

    Rabbits make excellent pets for just about any home, but there are a few things you should ensure you're ready for before adopting. In this section, we discuss the pros and cons of bunny adoption, what type of diet they require, health concerns that you should consider, and how to make sure your home is "critter-proof". We also provide a Bunny Adoption Checklist so you that you can make sure you're ready.

    There are several species of rabbits and not every one of them make great pets, so please take a look at our section on rabbits as well as our health section, which details the major health issues of these delicate little guys.

    Bringing a bunny into your home is a big commitment that you shouldn't take lightly. With lifespans ranging from 7-12 years, it's important you're in it for the long haul. With proper care and lots of love, your bunny can be as affectionate as your dog and as entertaining as your cat.

    Read More
  • Catifying Your Home: Design for the pampered cat

     photo IMG_2167800x533_zps154f0ed6.jpg photo IMG_2167800x533_zps154f0ed6.jpg photo IMG_2167800x533_zps154f0ed6.jpg As you all know, we're big fans of feline design (also known as "catification"). This is a story that includes a combining of households and some creative design from Mountain Cat Trees!

    When Eliza and Tiffany bought a home together in early 2014, they had to merge households. Eliza brought in her four cats (Agnes, Monkey, Judd and Naked) and a dog called Nora. Tiffany brought along her cats, Encore and Pluto, as well as her two dogs, Nova and Bebe.

    That's a big menagerie in anyone's book! Needless to say, the couple was concerned about how this “Brady Bunch” of animals would get along. They enlisted Mountain Cat Trees, makers of highest-quality, natural wood cat trees, scratching posts and cat shelves to help “catify” the new house to make it easier for animals and people to make the transition (read Mountain Cat Trees Inspire Felines to learn about their beautiful products!)

    Today, we're going to show you an entire gallery of their beautiful home and show you how simple it is to create your own home designs.

    Read More
  • How to Choose A Farrier

    The most important things you can do for your horse includes feeding a balanced diet and providing proper care for their feet. Choosing a farrier is as important, or more so, than choosing a veterinarian or boarding facility.

    Finding the right farrier will take time, but avoiding lifelong injury or crippling your horse due to improper shoeing will save you thousands of dollars, and a lot of heartache, in the long run.

    Here are some tips on how to find a farrier (horseshoer or blacksmith) and why it's so important to select a great person to work with your horse.

    Read More
  • Dog Etiquette: Leashes

    Recently, we posted on Facebook that we were out walking our dogs and experienced two small, off-leash dogs aggressively running to our much larger, leashed dogs. My dogs were both on-leash and controlled, but I was still annoyed. After posting my experience, I received a lot of responses - some of which were a bit negative due to the fact that one of my dogs looks like a pit bull (apparently I shouldn't be walking him?). Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter if my dogs are pit bulls or chihuahuas or golden retrievers. In fact, I could have been walking alone, or riding a horse, or walking my cat. The fact is, dogs of any size should never run up on another person or animal without being invited to do so. It’s a common courtesy that could save your dog’s life.

    Here are just a few reasons why...

    Read More
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4 Favorite Pet-friendly USA Hikes

Nothing cleanses the soul more than a day of hiking in an ancient forest with only yourself and your best Read More

Getting Old Sucks - Cognitive Dysfuntion in Dogs (CCD)

As most of you know, we have a dog who has just turned 15 years old. He’s half blind, almost Read More

New Pill Paste for Horses Make Pilling Horses Easy

horse at fencehorse at fenceGiving a horse a pill can be a challenge. There isn’t a horse alive who can’t Read More

Hurricane Katrina – My Journey Back in Time

My journey back to the Gulf Coast for Hurricane Katrina’s 10th Anniversary Remembrance was everything I had expected it to Read More

Healthy Cats Made Easy with #InstinctRaw

As you know, we are big fans of raw food (or at least a form of raw food) for our Read More

Effects of Full Moons on Our Pets

We always hear stories about how full moons bring out the crazy in people. Weird things tend to happen during Read More
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black-widowblack-widowIt’s that time of year again and with all of the recent weather events we’ve had these days, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye out for spider bites on our pets. Spider bites can be very difficult to spot and manage in pets. And unfortunately, pets are also very susceptible to getting bit. Cats in particular can obtain easy access to dark, quiet places that dogs often can’t manage. These are the very places that spiders love to hide.

Unfortunately, cats also have the most intense reactions to these bites. A single bite from a Black Widow can result in death. If you believe your cat (or dog) has been bitten, it’s important to have them treated immediately by a veterinarian. That said, let’s move on to identifying symptoms of a Black Widow bite and why they are so toxic to our four-legged friends.

Identification of Black Widow Spiders

Black Widow spiders are generally about an inch in diameter although they can be smaller or larger. The female (which is also the most poisonous and aggressive) of the species are a very glossy black and have a very distinctive red hourglass pattern on their stomachs as well as a bulbous black abdomen.

Black Widow Habits and Lifestyle

Black Widows prefer to hide in dark crevices during the day. Most active at night, black widows tend to spin very elaborate, “sticky” webs that appear almost overnight. They appear most often in the warm climates of the Southwest, but have been found as far north as Canada and as far East as Florida. You will most often find them in dark garages, door frames and any place that is protected from predators and the elements. While the Black Widow is not typically aggressive, it will bite to protect itself.  The female is particularly given to a nasty bite while the males and juveniles are a bit more protective of their venom and generally are not as aggressive.

The Bite

The toxin that is found in the Black Widow spider is actually a protein known as α-latrotoxin. This protein works with your pet’s nerve endings to create involuntary muscle contractions, a gradually increasing pain, and may cause elevated blood pressure.

What to Look For

Neither you nor your pet may realize that they have even been bitten. Black Widow venom can cause very different responses in pets. Some have an almost immediate reaction with localized swelling, other animals don’t show any symptoms until several hours later when the protein reaches their lymph nodes. There may be no swelling or pain at the actual site of the bite. Its believed that the most severe pain will be realized one to three hours after a bite. Look for the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Restlessness (your pet may have a difficult time getting comfortable)
  • Muscle pain
  • Drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle rigidity (particularly in the abdomen)
  • Limb weakness

Cats show far more severe signs including:

  • Severe pain
  • Drooling
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Antivenin for Black Widow Spiders

Antivenns are available for Black Widow bites, but are generally not administered due to the extremely high cost. Most vets are unable to keep an antivenon in stock due to a short shelf life. It is likely that if you choose to have this administered, a veterinarian will need to retrieve it from a human emergency facility.

Is this an emergency?

In Cats: Yes! If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a Black Widow, take your pet immediately to the emergency vet. The toxin in Black Widows is particularly deadly to our feline friends and requires immediate treatment. In Dogs: Contact your vet immediately and discuss options for treatment. If your vet is familiar with your pet, they may ask to see it immediately or they may recommend that you pack the area in ice to reduce inflammation. Only your vet will be able to recommend a course of action.

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Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.

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