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Thinking About Unleashing Your Dog in Public? Here’s What You Need to Know

It was 7 a.m. and I had just stepped onto the trail in Goosepond Mountain State Park with my dogs when a German shepherd came barreling towards us.  Bella was busy smelling and paid no attention as the shepherd began circling. But Jason is leash reactive and started to lung at the intruder.

I’ve worked hard to manage Jason’s issues. When we see dogs approaching, I remove him from the trail and work on sit, look-at-me and reward exercises to redirect his attention from passing dogs.

Negative interactions such as meeting unsupervised loose dogs on the trail set this training back. On this particular morning Jason was stressed as the shepherd continued to get in his face. I couldn’t safely remove him from the situation, and the owner was nowhere to be seen. When he did finally stroll into view he shouted, “Don’t worry, he gets along with everyone.”

It didn’t matter to this man that I was struggling to prevent a dog fight and to keep his dog from getting tangled in the leashes.  He just passed us by calling to his dog. There was no apology and he didn’t even try to leash the shepherd.

Bella (left), and Jason (right) love to walk with their friend Happy (middle).

The Problem with Unruly Loose Dogs in Public

I’m hearing more and more stories about people whose dogs were attacked or ambushed by loose dogs in the park.  Many, like me, are dealing with leash reactive dogs and these encounters can be a nightmare. Large loose dogs are also horrific for owners of small dogs who can be seriously injured. There are even horror stories about little dogs being killed after attacks by large off-leash dogs.

According to an article by Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, there are no numbers for how often big dogs attack little ones, but it’s a common enough scenario that veterinarians have an acronym for it, BDLD, which means Big Dog Little Dog. Veterinary experts say that these attacks frequently turn into serious medical emergencies.

Norine Twaddell, the owner of DogVentures, Dog Behavior Solutions LLC, a dog training business in New Jersey, has been called by clients for help after their dogs were attacked while out on a walk.

“These attacks can destroy a dog’s nature and it takes a lot of work to get their confidence back,” said Twaddell, who is a certified dog behavior consultant and a clinical member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

It’s not just leashed dogs and their owners who are affected by unruly off-leash dogs. There are plenty of non-dog people who don’t appreciate being jumped on by dogs. And it’s unfair to children who can easily be knocked down or traumatized. I’m a dog person and I can tell you that it wasn’t fun seeing that big German shepherd coming at us full speed. You just don’t know what to expect!

And now in the age of COVID-19, there’s an added concern. Nobody wants to be forced to have a close-up encounter with the owner of a loose dog.

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5 Safe (and Not Safe) Chew Toys For Dogs Who Like to Eat Everything

This post first published on Care2.com.


Photo credit: Thinkstock

Finding the perfect chew toy is a constant struggle for those of us living with extreme chewers. Our last dog Lucy, a Rottweiler mix, posed the biggest challenge for us. She managed to get pieces off of even the most durable toys.

These are some safe chew toys for dogs – and some to avoid – if you have a chewer in your life, like Lucy.

5 SAFE TOYS FOR DOGS

1. The Kong Classic 

The Kong  Classic has been a favorite with dog owners for more than 40 years. This toy is made of durable rubber that’s extra bouncy and has a hollow center for holding treats inside.

The Kong is popular at animal shelters where toys are a big part of the enrichment program for dogs and also offer a great way to keep dogs happy when home alone. At Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter, NJ Ellen Ribitzki said the Kong is a big hit. Shelter workers stuff them with peanut butter and kibble and freeze them overnight to provide even more chewing pleasure for the dogs.

2. The Chompion Dog Bone

This dog bone made by the JW Pet Company, Inc. is a dumbbell shape with textured nubs to help keep teeth clean, stimulate gums and promote oral health.

This company has been recognized at the Global Pet Expo for focusing on intelligent designs that help make their toys dog proof. The Chompion dog bone chew toy is made of durable, tough natural rubber that the company says is designed to withstand even the most powerful chewers. Sixty-one percent of dog owners gave this toy five stars on Chewy.com.

3. The Qwizl

This dog chew toy from West Paw won Best in Show for dogs at the Global Pet Expo in 2017. The Qwizl is a pliable durable treat-dispensing toy made from the company’s exclusive Zogoflex material. This toy is non-toxic and latex free.

Sixty-nine percent of dog owners gave the Qwizl a five-star review on Chewy.com. Many of the reviewers reported that this is the only chew toy that has stood up to their aggressive chewers.

4. The Nylabone 3-Prong Chew Toy with Peanut Butter

The 3-Prong Chew Toy is just one of the many chew bones promoted for extreme chewers by the Nylabone company. This bone has a multi-textured surface that helps to clean a dog’s teeth while keeping him or her busy for long periods of time.

The Nylabone company has been making dog chew toys since 1955 and offers an impressive selection of bones designed especially for aggressive chewers.

5. The Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Squeak Ball

This one topped the review list of “Super Durable Dog Balls for Fetching and Beyond” published in the August 2017 issue of The Whole Dog Journal. The ball is made from eco-friendly materials and is free from chemicals like BPA and phthalates.

A small amount of peppermint oil has been added to the material to give it a minty scent.

5 UNSAFE TOYS FOR THE CHEWER IN YOUR LIFE

Veterinary experts say it’s important to supervise how your dog is playing with his or her toys. Many chew toys are safe for some dogs but not others. Rope toys, if ingested, can cause life-threatening intestinal obstruction. Hard plastic toys in a power chewer’s mouth can splinter and cause intestinal damage.

Experts at the Humane Society of the United States recommend seeking the advice of a veterinarian before giving your dog a rawhide bone. These chews should only be given when you can supervise your dog as they may pose a choking hazard.

It’s a good practice to go through the dog toy basket periodically and get rid of toys that are starting to break into pieces or are torn. For extreme chewers, also avoid the toys below, which can be dangerous.

1. Tennis Balls

While tennis balls are fun for dogs to fetch, they are not safe as chew toys.

According to experts at the American Veterinary Dental Association, these balls are abrasive like scouring pads. If dogs chew on these balls every day for years it can cause significant wear to their teeth.

Tennis balls also pose a choking hazard. Aggressive chewers can easily swallow pieces of the material they rip from these balls.

2. Some Latex Toys

Latex toys with bells or squeaks inside are fine for tossing around but if left alone with these toys, your power chewer will use those teeth to get to the squeaker or bell. These parts are small and can easily be swallowed.

3. Toys with Single Air Holes

The danger with these toys, writes Veterinarian Virginia Sinnott on the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center website, is that the single hole can create a strong suction causing the toy to get stuck on the dog’s tongue.

Sinnott writes that “…if the suction is stronger than the dog’s ability to remove the toy with his or her paws, life-threatening problems can occur. These include obstruction of breathing due to the toy in the mouth and massive swelling of the tongue.”

4. Toxic Toys (various)

There are no federal regulations in place to ensure the standards of pet toys. Instead, it’s left up to manufacturers to establish standards and to test and issue recalls if necessary for their own products.

Dog owners need to be diligent in reading labels and researching companies to make sure they care about pet safety. Experts at Preventivevet.com recommend being especially cautious about purchasing dog toys and chews that are manufactured overseas if you can’t verify what’s in them. The same holds true for cheap dog toys made in the U.S.

5. Sticks and Twigs

Every chance she got, our dog, Lucy, was chewing on sticks and twigs in the yard. The problem is that wood splinters easily, and pieces can get stuck in a dog’s mouth causing an infection. It’s also really easy for dogs to swallow pieces of wood and this can cause an intestinal blockage.

In addition, according to an article in the July 2016 issue of Animal Wellness magazinecertain trees such as black walnut, black cherry, yew or red maple can be toxic to dogs.

How Sleepovers Help Shelter Dogs (…and also benefit volunteers)

This post first appeared on Care2.com

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Like so many shelter dogs, Alaska didn’t show well when visitors walked past her run at Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in Middletown, NY. So when a volunteer returned the shepherd mix after a sleepover at her house, staff were thrilled to hear that everything went really well.

SHORT-TERM FOSTERING (AKA SLEEPOVERS FOR DOGS)

“She was an entirely different dog in a home environment,” said Robin Markovits, a certified dog trainer who works at the sanctuary. “She was calm and relaxed, and the volunteer brought back a wealth of information for us to share with potential adopters.”

Pets Alive pipes calming music into kennels to help dogs relax, and staff and volunteers work hard on in-kennel enrichment programs. Still, Markovits said there’s no substitute for giving the dogs a break from the shelter environment via short-term fostering.

“No matter how much enrichment you provide there’s always going to be a certain amount of stress in a shelter,” Markovits said. “Dogs need to get away from this environment and do what dogs are supposed to do—sniff and smell, bond with people and have fun.”

Pets Alive encourages volunteers to take dogs out for a hike and keep them for overnight or weekend sleepovers. Some volunteers who can’t foster the dogs in their own homes opt to spend an overnight with them at a local pet-friendly hotel.

THERE’S SCIENTIFIC PROOF SHELTER DOGS BENEFIT FROM SLEEPOVERS.

Pets Alive is not the only shelter to see the benefits of short-term fostering or overnight sleepovers. A little over a year ago, Maddie’s Fund gave a grant to Carroll College, MT to test the theory that shelter dogs benefit from sleepovers.

This year the study was expanded to Arizona State’s Science Collaboratory working with dogs at four U.S. shelters.

According to Maddie’s Fund, there was initial disagreement within the animal sheltering community about the effect of short-term fostering on the dogs. Some loved the idea of providing dogs with a break from the shelter while others felt these brief sleepovers would cause more stress to the dogs, especially when returned to the shelter.

Markovits said she likens overnight or weekend sleepovers for shelter dogs to how humans feel after a weekend getaway.

“Think about how refreshed and calm you feel even after a short getaway?” the trainer said. “That same sense of calm and relaxation is what we see in all of our shelter dogs who get away for overnight or weekend sleepovers.”

Alaska-PetsAlive
Alaska, enjoyed a sleepover at a volunteer’s house when she was living at Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in Middletown, NY.

The objective of the Maddie’s Fund study was to understand how overnight or short-term sleepovers with a foster caregiver affected shelter dogs’ cortisol levels, which can be an indicator of stress.

The researchers also wanted to see how behavioral observations in foster care relate to what adopters see immediately upon adoption and six months after the pets have settled into their new homes.

“To measure the dogs’ cortisol levels in the pilot study, we collected urine from the dogs the morning before the sleepover, the morning before being returned, and the next morning back at the shelter.” Lisa Gunter, a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University, explained. “For the behavioral component, we used questions from James Serpell’s C-BARQ questionnaire, a validated dog research questionnaire that asks owners to describe the dog’s behavior in a variety of everyday situations. We collected these questionnaires from shelter staff, the foster home and the new adopters.”

4 WAYS SHORT-TERM FOSTERING BENEFITS SHELTER DOGS

Study results showed dogs do indeed benefit from sleepovers. Here’s how.

1. Dogs were able to relax.

The dogs’ cortisol levels significantly dropped with just one overnight in a foster home.

Families in the study reported that the dogs would often sleep once they settled into their foster home. While the dogs’ cortisol levels did go back to previous levels when returned to the shelter they didn’t go any higher than that.

2. Volunteers became advocates.

Volunteers who took dogs on sleepovers became advocates for their foster dogs. They took the dogs to social events and promoted the dog on social media while they were fostering.

3. Feedback helped overcome myths about shelter dogs.

The perception of shelter dogs as being “unknown” often prevents them from finding new homes.

Overnight and short-term sleepovers help to combat this stigma as volunteers share information on the dog’s temperament and behavior in a home environment.

4. The human-animal bond extended past the sleepover.

Volunteers who took dogs on sleepovers didn’t forget about the dog once he or she was back at the shelter.

Many volunteers in the study continued to actively work on behalf of “their” dog, checking on his or her adoption status, continuing to share the dog on social media, taking the dog to adoption events, and, in several cases, even continuing to foster the dog after the research component was over.

Pets Alive is always looking for new volunteers  including people who are willing to take dogs on overnight or weekend sleepovers.

A Maddie’s Fund manual on Short-Term Foster Care provides more information on why sleepovers are good for shelter dogs while also providing a great volunteer opportunity for people who can’t commit to long hours of volunteer work at a shelter.

 

How a Mentor Can Help You go Vegan

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It was a celebration at an all-the-meat-you-can-eat Brazilian restaurant that transformed my friend, Joy, from a meat eater to a compassionate vegan. As she transitioned to her new lifestyle, Joy visited farm sanctuaries and read read books on factory farming. Instead of seeking support from a mentor she started each day by watching Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. The award-winning and life-changing documentary highlights the emotional lives of animals and the moral struggles of farmers who had a change of heart about the animals in their care.

According to Vegan Outreach, a nonprofit working to end violence towards animals, many people aspire to be vegetarian or vegan but need support in making the transition. Some – like Joy – find this support in books and media while others seek out a personal connection. Connecting to a vegan mentor can make the challenging transition to a compassionate diet less challenging.

A mentor can you help you transition to a vegan diet.

Two people shopping for vegan food.Vegan Outreach launched a Vegan Mentor Program to help those seeking one-on-one support. Through this program new and aspiring vegetarians and vegans—and established vegans who feel isolated in a world of meat eaters—are paired with mentors who provide guidance and support.

Today, the program has 2,300 mentors helping 4,300 mentees in 1,150 cities in 60 countries.

“Our mentors are non-judgmental and meet mentees wherever they are along their journey to reducing animal suffering,” said Vegan Mentor Program Coordinator Jean Bettanny.

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How to Build A Pet First Aid Kit

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April is American Red Cross Pet First Aid Awareness Month and a perfect time of the year to learn how to build a pet first aid kit at home.

When our foxhound Bella lay on the couch beside me last night with her paw resting in my hand I realized that it was time for a nail-cutting session. That also meant pulling out the first aid kit to grab styptic powder just in case I cut too close to the quick. I’m careful to avoid this, but accidents do happen. It’s important to be prepared.

The American Red Cross Dog and Cat First Aid online offer courses teaching owners what to do in the case of an emergency until veterinary care is available. That includes having easy access to a pet first aid kit.

While pet first aid kits can be purchased through the American Red Cross or at many local pet stores you can also build a pet first aid kit at home.

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Is Your Pet’s Animal Hospital AAHA Accredited? Here’s Why it Matters

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Our dog, Jason, shakes all over while in the waiting room at our animal hospital. It doesn’t take long, though, for our veterinarian to help him relax. She gets down on the floor beside him, talks in a soothing voice and offers him a treat. Jason can never resist treats, and before long his tail starts to wag.

While our veterinarian’s bedside manner is extremely important to us, it’s not the only thing we take into account when choosing an animal hospital. We also look to make sure that the hospital is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Not all animal hospitals are accredited. According to the AAHA, nearly 60 percent  of pet owners think their pet’s veterinary hospital is accredited when it is not. In fact, only about 3,700 (12-15 percent) of animal hospitals in the United States and Canada are accredited.

Here’s why choosing an AAHA accredited animal hospital is important.

WHAT IS AAHA ACCREDITATION?

Unlike human hospitals, animal hospitals are not required to be accredited. According to ConsumerAdvocate.org, lack of accreditation doesn’t mean that a veterinary practice is providing sub-par health care. However, it does mean that the practice hasn’t been measured against the AAHA’s approximately 900 standards to achieve accreditation. The article states:

“The process of accreditation is challenging and rigorous. It is also voluntary and not guaranteed. When a veterinary facility steps up to become accredited, they’re making a proclamation that they’re committed to excellence. “

According to the AAHA, its Standards of Accreditation are continuously reviewed and updated to keep practices on the cutting edge of veterinary excellence. To maintain accredited status, hospitals undergo comprehensive on-site evaluations every three years.

“Veterinary medicine is always evolving and improving,” said Heather Loenser, AAHA’s senior veterinary officer, who was quoted in the consumeradvocaty.org article, “And as such, AAHA has to remain flexible, ready to challenge previous protocols and upgrade them to the latest recommendations.”

The AAHA has been accrediting veterinary practices since 1933. This accreditation serves two purposes:

  • It recognizes and objectively certifies great veterinary practices, which is valuable to pet parents as they search for the best care for their pets.
  • It helps good veterinary hospitals to become great ones by coaching their personnel and helping the practice to live up to its potential.

After applying to become accredited, a veterinary practice usually spends several weeks or months examining and fine-tuning its systems, processes and procedures to be sure every aspect meets AAHA’s standards of quality.

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10 Ways to Keep Your Dog or Cat Happy When Home Alone

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Watching bird feeders help keep cats entertained when home alone

It isn’t easy leaving our pets alone for hours, but there are things we can do to help them. Try these 10 ways to keep your dog or cat happy when home alone.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR DOG HAPPY WHEN HOME ALONE

1. Break Up the Day with Exercise

Some dogs left home alone can suffer from cabin fever leading to stress and anxiety. According to experts at the Animal Behavior College, access to the backyard is no substitute for a nice long walk. These outings will benefit your dog physically while also providing mental stimulation.

If you work close to home, consider spending your lunchtime walking your dog. When that’s not possible, having a professional dog walker or trusted neighbor take your dog for a mid-day walk helps break up the day.

2. Leave a Treat-Dispensing Toy

Interactive toys that require dogs to work for their treats can help relieve boredom when they’re home alone.

Our favorite is the Classic Kong. We stuff the cavity in the middle with a combination of kibble and peanut butter and freeze it overnight to make it last longer.

The WholeDog Journal offers a helpful evaluation of treat-dispensing toys based on such traits as sturdiness, safety, entertainment value and affordability.

3. Turn on the TV or Radio

Many dog owners leave the TV or radio on to keep their dogs company when home alone. Veterinarian Jeff Werber, founder of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles, said in a blog post that some dogs with separation anxiety may respond well to radio music or TV when trained to have a positive association to the sound.

Another entertainment option is DOGTV, which provides audio-visual therapy for dogs to help treat loneliness, anxiety and separation in dogs.

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5 Ways to Attract Birds to Backyard Nesting Boxes

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We enjoy watching wildlife dine at our feeders all winter, and it’s such an honor when some birds decide to raise their brood in the nesting boxes we build from recycled materials. This post offers five ways to attract birds to backyard nesting boxes.

Providing nesting boxes is important, say experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, because for many species of birds there’s a shortage of great places to nest. While most birds choose their nesting locations in the spring, it’s never too late to attract birds to your backyard nesting boxes.

Many birds have more than one brood per season and may switch to a new box to raise their second or third broods. In addition, if a bird is unsuccessful in raising its first brood due to a predator, it may be very happy to take advantage of a new box hanging somewhere else on your property.

HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO ATTRACT BIRDS TO YOUR BACKYARD NESTING BOXES.

1. Location, location, location

Every species of birds has a different habitat requirement. If you choose the right location, you will have the best chance of attracting the type of bird you’re hoping for.

Experts at Birds and Blooms Magazine say that the best location for a bluebird house is an area facing or surrounded by open fields where insects they eat and feed to their young are plentiful. Chickadees, on the other hand, prefer their houses to be located in a cluster of small trees or in a shrubbery.

House wrens are attracted to boxes hanging from small trees in an open yard, and purple martins prefer housing to be placed in open fields or lawns with clear flyways.

If you want to attract tree swallows, and you have a body of water in or near your yard, then you’re in luck. These birds like to nest close to water where they can find aquatic insects to feed to their young.

2. Consider the style of your nesting box

In general, say Birds and Blooms experts, small birds need small houses and big birds will look to the larger backyard nesting boxes, but each species have desires beyond the size.

For example, purple martins like to nest in groups and are attracted to condo-style housing. These community homes should have at least four cavities with between six and 12 being ideal.

Bluebirds look for single room nest boxes, which can be about 50 to 75 yards apart. Unlike the bluebirds, house wrens prefer to live in small single houses away from other nesting boxes.

While commercial nesting boxes come in a wide variety of colors and designs, bird experts caution that it’s best to keep the boxes simple, not stylish.

In addition, experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say that a perch is unnecessary for backyard birds. In fact, perches can help predators gain access to the nest. We learned this the hard way when last year a blue jay used the perch on one of our boxes to attack the babies inside. We removed all of the perches on our nest boxes and the birds still use them.

Blue tit bird brings caterpillar in nest box

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What Renting Baby Chicks for Easter Really Teaches Kids

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Excited that he won a blue chick in a church raffle, a young child ran to show his mom. Like thousands of chicks every year, this baby bird was dyed as an Easter novelty to be sold or raffled off to families.

Thankfully this boy’s mother valued the tiny chick’s life and asked Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, NY to give him a home. Picasso has grown into a handsome rooster who loves his life at the sanctuary.

Not all chicks are so lucky. Easter is a time of rejoicing and renewal for Christians, but for thousands of innocent chicks, this season is nothing to chirp about.

Every Easter, families across the country purchase chicks for their children only to drop them off at shelters a few weeks later when the novelty wears off or they can’t commit to caring for the animal. A more recent trend is rent-a-chick programs promoted by retailers and farmers throughout the country in the weeks leading up to Easter.

RENTING BABY CHICKS DOESN’T TEACH CHILDREN RESPONSIBILITY

The rental program is popular because children can enjoy the novelty of caring for a chick without the long-term commitment.

One farmer in New Jersey who rents chicks to families promotes the program as “… teaching kids to appreciate animals and to better understand the responsibility of caring for them.” The farms Facebook Page promotes the rental chick program as a “… great educational way to introduce children to caring for a live animal without a long-term commitment!”

Another farmer in Maryland said his rent-a-chick program allows parents to “…give their children a fluffy surprise on Easter without getting stuck with a new pet.”

picassotheroosterPicasso started out life dyed blue and raffled off as an Easter novelty, but today he is enjoying life at the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
Photo courtesy of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

Caring for pets has long been credited with teaching children responsibility, trust, compassion, understanding, empathy and respect for animals and by extension other people. Parents who adopt pets from shelters  teach children about the importance of saving a life and committing to the care of that animal for his or her lifetime.

Despite the promotions, renting chicks for Easter does not teach children responsibility, respect or compassion for animals.

“By renting animals for a few weeks and then just sending them back to eventually be slaughtered children are being taught—even if unintentionally—that these animals are disposable,” said Andrea Springirth, animal caretaker and humane educator at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

Many farmers and retailers say they started the rent-a-chick program to help cut down on the numbers of chicks being released to the shelters. But what these rental programs actually represent is the further exploitation of animals for profit with little or no concern for the welfare or interests of the animal, said Springirth.

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7 Common Food Items Not Good for Backyard Birds

 


Image by Nancy Buron from Pixabay

We keep our backyard birds supplied with sunflower seed and suet throughout the cold winter months. Recently my husband started to toss old bread to the birds but I was concerned that this might not be helping our little friends.

As it turns out I was right. According to avian experts, throwing bread to the birds on a regular basis can negatively impact their health.

THE FOLLOWING FOODS ARE NOT GOOD FOR WILD BIRDS

Bread

Bread is one of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to feeding backyard birds said Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society, NJ.

“Just because they eat bread, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them,” Torino said. “The problem is they fill up on bread and get really weak because it has no nutritional value for them.”

When eaten excessively, bread will cause health problems for birds, including malnutrition and obesity. This is particularly prominent among young waterfowl in urban and suburban areas where ducklings and goslings may be fed large amounts of bread. As a result, these young birds fail to get proper nutrients for healthy growth and can develop deformed wings—known as Angel Wing. Feeding bread to waterfowl is illegal in many states for the protection of the birds.

Salt or Salty food like chips or crackers

According to the nonprofit Nature Forever birds differ greatly in their ability to cope with salty food and water. For example, seabirds are able to eat marine animals and drink seawater without a problem, while many songbirds can die if they take in large quantities of salt. Most backyard birds cannot cope with too much salt intake so it’s important not to offer them salty food.

“Salted peanuts are not a good choice for backyard birds,” Torino said. “People should choose unsalted or roasted peanuts instead. The same goes for other types of nuts.”

Moldy or stale food

While it’s true many molds are harmless, some can cause respiratory infections in birds. For this reason, avian experts recommend not feeding moldy or stale foods to backyard birds. It’s also important to remove any stale or moldy seed or other food from feeders. Stale food provides a breeding ground for salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning and even death.

Torino said it’s important to keep bird feeders clean and he recommends periodically washing them with a 10 percent bleach solution. In addition, dropped seed should be raked up from under the feeders.

“It’s also a good idea to move the feeders around so all the droppings aren’t collecting in one place,” Torino said. “That helps to prevent avian diseases being passed around from one bird to another.”

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How to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful for Your Cat

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Routine vet visits are vital to your cat’s health, but they can be stressful for you and your cat. Here’s why regular checkups are important and how to make vet visits less stressful for your cats.

One of the greatest challenges I faced when coordinating the Seniors for Seniors Foster Program at a local shelter was getting cats into carriers for transport to their foster homes or for health check-ups. Rides in the car were no fun either when the most stressed cats howled, hissed, defecated or threw up in their carriers.

My friend, Ann, has seven cats and planning trips to the vet is always quite an ordeal. She has to carefully plan where to stage the cat carriers and which cat to shut in which room. It’s always stressful for the cats and not much fun for my friend either.

“No cat likes being taken to strange places and handled by strangers,” Ann said. “Some of them deal with it better than others, a lot of it is just personality. I think using a sturdy cat carrier that they can’t get out of is probably the most important thing.”

A 2013 study by Bayer and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) found that 52 percent of cats in the U.S. had not been taken to the veterinarian in the past year for necessary check-ups. The study also found that only half as many cats receive annual exams as dogs.

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