Archive for April, 2009

Swine Flu And Pets
April 29, 2009

Dear Liz,

We know swine flu can affect pigs and people… but should I be concerned about my dog and cat becoming ill?



Dear Sniffles – Let’s look at the Swine Flu in general.

The Swine Flu starts with pigs. It’s actually common to have these outbreaks involving pigs during the colder months. The pigs become ill and one spreads it to another – much like people during “flu season”.

Now, pigs can transmit the flu to other pigs, as well as to humans which is what is in the news now. Normally the transmission from pig to people happens as a result of direct contact by a person to a sick pig.

Then that person can transmit the swine flu to another person, again through direct contact, etc., and on and on.

The swine flu, the avian flu, as well as the human flu, can be transmitted to pigs. What happens then is that the flu viruses can mix DNA and a different flu can be the result.

Now, as to whether or not your dog or cat can be infected with the swine flu is a mystery, at least to everyone I’ve asked. I can’t find any literature on the swine flu being spread to dogs or cats and my veterinarian can’t answer that, either.

I am going to keep an eye on the Center for Disease Control website to make sure I’m well informed, though. I’d suggest you do, too, so that we have no misconceptions. Their web site is CDC – Influenza (Flu) | Swine Influenza (Flu): General Information.

Wish I had better information for you. I guess that if we haven’t heard from the experts that it CAN be transmitted, it’s safe to say it probably can’t. I’d still go with the over-all consensus, though, and keep your pets away from animals that you know are ill. Keep your pets up to date on their vaccinations and always check with your veterinarian if your animal becomes ill.


Foreclosure Guidelines
April 24, 2009

Dear Liz,   


My neighbor is about to lose her home to foreclosure and has two wonderful dogs that she can’t take with her. I can’t take them, but is there help there for her?






Dear Foreclosed,


Despite reports of a better housing market, this issue continues to grow.  Here at Bandit’s Place, I get almost daily calls just like your letter from people who need to place their pets due to foreclosure.

My best advice is to plan ahead.  Once you know you’re in trouble financially, start making calls.


If your dog came from a breeder, call the breeder to see if they’ll take the dog back.  Sometimes they will or they’ll know someone looking for one.  This can often be your best resource.


 If your dog came from a shelter such as ours, call them.  Many shelters (like Bandit’s Place) will take a dog back no matter how long they’ve been away.


Call the breed rescue associated with your dog.  Every dog breed has a rescue attached to it so go to the computer and look up your dog’s breed and put the word “rescue” next to it (ie: Labrador Rescue)  Even if it’s a mixed breed, but has a lot of one breed in it (looks wise), a breed rescue may help out.


Check out  Under the main “Petfinder” heading is a strip of purple across the page.  The second heading in from the left says “shelters”.  Click on that and then look up “shelters by state”.  Put your state in the blank.  You’ll get a listing of shelters in that state.  Start calling the ones nearest to you and fan out from there.  Reserve a space.  If they don’t put you on a waiting list, call daily to see if a spot has opened up. 


Check with your veterinary hospital.  Post pictures and a bio of your pet at their office.  They usually have a bulletin board or something that keeps track of who needs to place what. 


Post pictures and bio’s of your pet at every grocery store, department store, pet shop, etc., to get the information out there.

Call friends and relatives to see if they can take the pets in.  Sometimes they can take them in temporarily until a spot somewhere is found, or until you’re back on your feet.


The absolute, most important thing I can tell you to do, though, is NOT TO WAIT.  I’ve had so many folks call me and say they need to place their pet NOW as they have until THIS WEEKEND to leave.  That, I have to say, is too late.  With the amount of people looking to place their pets due to these circumstances, there is just not enough room in shelters to accommodate everyone.



Cadbury Easter
April 10, 2009

Dear Liz, As my kids wake up on Easter morning… the search will be on for the chocolate bunnies and other candies… That’s if the dog doesn’t find them first. Can you explain the dangers of dogs and chocolate?

Sincerely, Cadbury from Southington

Well, Cadbury, I can tell you that chocolate, or anything containing caffeine, is definitely NOT what you’d want your pets to get into.

Cocoa is only one of the products that contain caffeine, which is actually the culprit veterinarians warn against. Coffee grounds, tea, tea bags, etc., all contain high quantities of caffeine. Once ingested, the caffeine can make the pet extremely hyper.

The pet can vomit or have diarrhea, and, if enough is ingested, seizures as well. If the dose is high enough, death can occur. While this is rare, it can happen. There are other hazards around this Easter that owners should be aware of, though.

 Easter grass, while very pretty, can cause digestive upsets and even blockages in pets that like to eat it. My cats were very interested in the grass so we’ve discontinued using it, and instead use tissue paper to line our baskets for the Easter Bunny to fill. Many of the potted flowers are from bulbs and can be poisonous to pets as well, so keep them up and away from Kittie or Fido.

Easter lilies, a VERY popular plant given at this holiday, is very toxic to cats. Lilies in general are a very bad idea to have around cats! Plastic eggs, although cool to hide treats in for Easter Egg Hunts, can be forgotten (like when you put them out for the kids to find and then forget where they were!). Once found by Fido, they can smell good enough to eat (did you put the chocolates in there?).

The plastic eggs can crack and break and cause lacerations in your dog’s stomach and intestines. Hard boiled eggs spoil very quickly so make sure to throw them away after they’ve been out for even just a few hours. Make SURE they don’t end up in Fido’s possession! The foil that covers many treats can also cause digestive issues so make sure they’re not left out where pets can get hold of them.

Little Easter toys can be an issue as well so make sure you know where they are. So when in doubt, keep it out of reach of your pets. Enjoy your Easter but make sure it’s a safe one for everyone!

Easter Bunnies
April 3, 2009

Dear Liz,

I’m thinking about getting a bunny for my daughter for Easter.   What can you tell me about making a purchase like this?


Peter Cottontail


Dear Peter – Well, getting a bunny is like getting any other pet.  It takes commitment, time and money.  Let’s go over a few things…

Housing – The rabbit cages they sell at stores are no where near what a rabbit needs.  A rabbit will need a cage to be at least 3 feet wide by at least 6 feet long to be able to properly stretch out, etc., when not being exercised outside the cage.  Since the average, commercially sold, rabbit cage runs about $100.00, figure on at least $150.00 – $200.00 to have one built of proper size.

The BEST housing I ever saw was an enclosure built on the ground, actually around a tree. The rabbits were able to do what rabbits do naturally (dig and make burrows) and they were incredibly happy looking critters!

Now during the winter months, Bunny will need hay to line the hutch if Bunny is going to be kept outside.  Bunny will need a way to be warm and cozy and the hay is a great way to help that out.

And don’t forget that Bunny will need to be cleaned out!  A complete hutch clean out will need to be done on a weekly basis, but a daily cleaning of poop from under the hutch will also need to be done.

If Bunny is going to be an INSIDE bunny (and this can be done), Bunny will need a place to hang out at night (crate), a litter box, etc., (yep, they can be litter box trained).  And yep, a daily clean out of that litter box will need to be done as well.  Oh – don’t forget that bunnies need to chew, so anything wooden in your house is, well, fair game.  You’re going to have to Bunny proof your home as well.

Exercise – I had a rabbit for many years and he required daily exercise outside his pen.  This means finding a rabbit harness and walking him around the yard (I once saw someone walking their rabbit along the roadway in Collinsville!).  It means taking the time to play ball (yep, they love to play) or some other game with Bunny.  My rabbit loved to go sledding in the winter and leaf pile hide and seek in the fall.  The more activity he had, the happier he was.  Remember, they’re not just a bundle of fur – they need activity and mental stimulation.

Food – Rabbits need proper food – carrots and lettuce are nice, but won’t help keep Bunny healthy.  Alfalfa, carrots, oats, pellets, apples, etc., are needed to ensure good health.  Some rabbits (like one I had) also required Quaker Oats and pineapple because of digestive problems.  And because their teeth grow constantly, rabbits need something to chew on – constantly. 

Veterinary Care – Well, like all pets, sometimes Bunny needs to go to the vet.  If Bunny doesn’t wear his or her teeth down the vet will need to help things out.  Nails will also need to be clipped on a regular basis as rabbits kept in wire hutches don’t have the ability to naturally wear their nails down. Now finding a veterinarian who actually treats rabbits will have to be done BEFORE you get one. 

Now, I’ve given you basics on rabbit care.  So after the novelty of a new baby bunny has worn off, be prepared to take over feeding and care of the fluff-ball for the next, at least, 10 years.  Yep – they can live that long or longer!

My point is this – I loved having a rabbit.  I was constantly amazed at the intelligence level he had.  He was, well, cool!  But rabbit ownership is NOT for everyone.  Every spring, about a month or so after Easter, we all get calls about rabbits needing to be turned in.  “It’s more care than I thought” or “My kids lost interest”.  I know that baby bunnies, with cute, wriggling noses and soft, soft fur are VERY tempting.  And they seem like easy keepers.  But they’re not.  They require time and commitment, like any other pet.

So take some time – Take a LOT of time – and really, REALLY think about this one.  Are you prepared to be the caretaker once the newness has worn off?