Paws & Claws
Meet the degu
Animals from the rodent family, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice, and gerbils are popular house pets. Despite their cuddly and energetic disposition, degus, however, are a lesser-known species that are often overlooked. Here’s what makes degus fantastic pets.
Degus are small domestic rodents that look like a mix between a gerbil and a squirrel. They weigh around seven to 10 ounces and measure between four and eight inches long. Degus have large, dark eyes, small ears, and soft coats that come in a variety of shades, including a mixture of gray and orange.
Degus are shy, curious, clean, resourceful, playful, and affectionate animals. Since they prefer to live in groups, it’s best to adopt at least two degus from the same litter. Although they’re diurnal, these rodents are most active at night. In addition, like guinea pigs, they make warbles, chirps, squeaks, and other sounds to communicate.
Since degus are herbivores, they should be fed a combination of high-quality hay, commercial grain-free food, and fresh vegetables and greens. They also need small branches to chew on.
Your pet rodent will thrive in a spacious, multi-tiered cage with clean water, healthy food, and plenty of socialization.
When given adequate care, degus can live up to 10 years.
Common degus are considered an invasive species in some parts of the United States. Consequently, it’s illegal to own them in California, Utah, Connecticut, and Alaska.
Paws & Claws
How well do you know your pet’s dental health?
Good oral hygiene is just as important for preventing dental and periodontal diseases in pets as in humans. It’s also critical to ensure their longevity and quality of life. But do you know the ins and outs of caring for your faithful friend’s teeth? Here are a few questions to test your knowledge.
1. How many teeth does an adult dog have?
2. What are the teeth at the back of a goldfish’s mouth?
A. Pharyngeal teeth
B. Laryngeal teeth
C. Jugal teeth
3. What type of teeth are missing in rodents?
4. At what age does a cat begin to lose its milk teeth?
A. Three months
B. 10 months
C. Two years
5. Which of these animals changes its teeth several times during its life?
C. Guinea pig
6. Which of these species has tiny teeth on the lower jaw?
C. Fighting fish
7. What nutrients enable a rabbit to wear down its teeth?
February is Pet Dental Health Month, an opportunity to ensure you provide the necessary care for your best friend. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to get the best advice for your pet.
1-C, 2-A, 3-B, 4-A, 5-A, 6-C, 7-B
Paws & Claws
Ranch dogs show their courage and energy
This month, one dog will win the $5,000 prize in one of the dog world’s more obscure contests (certainly not the glamorous Westminster) — the Farm Dog of the Year competition.
In this fierce annual contest, held by the American Federation of Farm Bureaus and sponsored by pet food giant Purina, it’s not a pretty face that counts — it’s talent, instinct, and heroism.
Ranch work takes a specific set of skills for dogs that utilize their instincts — to be able to group and move animals through huge pasture lands and then maneuver them through smaller fences. There are also dangers and unexpected problems.
Take the problem of feeding cows. You have 60 cows, each 1,500 pounds, eager to get to their dinner. Sonja Galley has to tote several five-gallon buckets of feed, and it would be nice if the cows didn’t trample her. That’s where Bindy, the 2021 Farm Dog of the Year, comes in. Bindi fearlessly keeps the cows back and once saved Sonja’s life when a cow pinned her in a barn.
The immense energy and intelligence of the dogs are essential to farm work.
The 2020 winner, Rhett and Beth Crandall’s Australian Shepherd Flint is no pup. At over 11 years old, Flint became a farm dog late in life when Beth and Rhett married, and he moved to the ranch. That’s when Flint came into his own, drawing on his instinct and bond with his humans to move cattle across vast pastures. He doesn’t know that he’s getting a little old and doesn’t mind teaching the youngsters, either.
Meanwhile, Woody, the 2019 winner, also an Australian Shepherd, works the Texas ranch of Joe Sheeran. Woody is a hero and known for his intelligence.
One day when Woody was just seven months old, Sheeran was teaching him to sit and stay without fail. This is important because it could be fatal if a novice dog runs cows over ranchers. On this day, Sheeran told Woody to stay when he spotted a calf caught in a ditch. He went down to get the calf, but the mother became aggressive and pinned Sheeran, who was all alone on the ranch. Still just a pup, Woody saw the danger, disobeyed the stay command, and leaped into action, getting in the cow’s face and forcing her away from Sheeran.
“Woody is my constant companion. When he got that cow off of me, I knew there was something to him, and he’s been a great farm dog,” Sheeran says.
Woody even knows which sick sheep Sheeran wants to cut out of the herd.
The reigning champion is Fit, a border collie who works on the farm of Cindy and Andrew Deak in Lady Lake, Florida. At age five, Fit is the right-hand dog at the Deak’s farm. Every day, she herds sheep and helps out with feeding time. Some days, she takes novice dogs under her wing to help them to learn her skills.
See videos and contest results at: https://www.fb.org/land/fdoty
Should you adopt a pet when you retire?
Has your schedule freed up since retiring? Are you considering inviting a furry friend into your home? Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether adopting a pet is a good idea.
Owning a pet has many benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, lessened feelings of loneliness, increased self-esteem, and a general sense of well-being. For example, owning a dog helps raise your level of social engagement and physical activity because of walks and visits to the park. These changes can have a significant impact on your health.
Things to consider
Whatever type of animal you like, it’s essential to reflect on the long-term implications. Consider, for example, a dog’s life expectancy and your plans. Consider whether you may sell your home, move into a smaller space, or travel. Determine who can care for your companion if you can’t take it with you.
Finally, choose an animal that complements your level of autonomy. If you want a dog and you’re not very active, you probably shouldn’t get an energetic puppy that’s strong enough to cause you to lose your balance. You may find suitable companionship in a cat, hamster, or fish if you have reduced mobility.
Do you want to give an abandoned pet a second chance? Visit an animal shelter in your area.
How to make your home more pet-centric
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people welcomed pets into their homes. Whether you’re a new pet owner or have had one for many years, why not try making your home more pleasing to your furry friend? Here are three ways to create a pet-centric home.
1. Wash station. If you own a dog, why not create a dedicated area to groom and clean them? A ground-level wash station featuring tiled walls, a vinyl pan base, and a hand-held showerhead will help keep your pet and your house clean.
2. Pet door. Do you want your cat or dog to come and go as it pleases? Fortunately, pet doors have come a long way in recent years. For example, older doors with a simple flap pose a security risk since other animals, or heavy rain can also pass through them. Modern ones, in contrast, are electronic and use programmable collars or microchip implants to open only for your pet.
3. Pet flooring. Pets can be messy. Rather than get annoyed and frustrated, why not choose floor materials like linoleum, vinyl, or stain-resistant carpet that are easy to clean? A small area of radiant-floor heating will also give your pet a welcome place to lie down.
Contact an interior designer in your area to help you develop unique ideas to make your home more pet friendly.
Paws & Claws
How-to guide: adopting a pet turtle
Have you always wanted a pet turtle? Here’s a short guide on what you need to know before adopting your new friend.
Terrestrial or aquatic
Aquatic turtles are more popular than terrestrial ones because they’re significantly cheaper. However, they require a much more controlled habitat than terrestrial turtles. The type of turtle you choose will depend on how much time you have to care for it and your long-term budget. This is because most turtles live between 30 and 50 years.
When selecting the sex of your new pet, remember that male terrestrial turtles have a more concave dip on their underside than females. Moreover, male aquatic turtles have longer claws and wider tails than females.
Terrestrial turtles are solitary creatures that enjoy being alone. The same is true for their aquatic counterparts, as adult males frequently fight when together.
Before adopting a turtle, you must choose a terrarium or aquarium to accommodate its mature size. Adult turtles generally grow to a length of about six and 20 inches.
Health and behavior
When choosing a turtle, take the time to scrutinize its shell and skin condition. Healthy turtles have smooth, unblemished bodies. You can also test a turtle’s strength by gently tugging its limbs while they’re tucked under its shell. The turtle should offer some resistance. Moreover, observe how the turtle swims and ensure it moves in a straight line. Finally, choose a turtle that’s approachable and easy to handle.
Visit your local pet store to get everything you need to create an environment your pet turtle will love.
Paws & Claws
What’s behavioral grooming?
Are you looking for a pet groomer? Before choosing one establishment over another, find out what behavioral grooming is all about.
Traditional grooming methods often use restraints to hold your pet in place while grooming. However, behavioral grooming keeps your pet unrestrained while washing, cutting, and drying their fur. It focuses solely on your pet’s behavior. The groomer respects your furry friend’s limits by reading its body language. The goal is to teach your dog to enjoy the experience by taking a respectful and unrestricted approach.
Many dogs feel anxious about being manipulated, and the loud sounds of the clippers and the dryer scare them. These emotions are normal, especially when your pet doesn’t know what to expect. Behavioral grooming respects your dog’s limits. For example, techniques like positive reinforcement and increased motivation ease your dog into the experience.
Are you interested in learning more about behavioral grooming? Contact a groomer in your area that offers this service.
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