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24/12/2011

How do I avoid an allergy to pets

Being a pet owner is never easy. While pets bring us joy and companionship on a daily basis, they also require training, veterinary care, time, love, attention, and even tolerance. Tolerance is especially necessary when a pet owner is allergic to his or her companion animal.
Studies show that approximately 15% of the population is allergic to dogs or cats. An estimated one-third of Americans who are allergic to cats (about 2 million people) live with at least one cat in their household anyway. In a study of 341 adults who were allergic to cats or dogs and had been advised by their physicians to give up their pets, only one out of five did. What's more, 122 of them obtained another pet after a previous one had died. It's clear the benefits of pet companionship outweigh the drawbacks of pet allergies for many owners. Living comfortably with a companion animal despite being allergic to him requires a good understanding of the allergic condition and an adherence to a few rules.

All cats and dogs are allergenic (allergy-causing) to people who are allergic to animals. Cats tend to be more allergenic than dogs for allergic people, although some people are more sensitive to dogs than cats. Contrary to popular belief, there are no "non-allergenic" breeds of dogs or cats; even hairless breeds may be highly allergenic.
Dogs with soft, constantly-growing hairthe Poodle or the Bichon Frise, for examplemay be less irritating to some individuals, although this may be because they are bathed and groomed more frequently. One dog or cat of a particular breed may be more irritating to an individual allergy sufferer than another animal of that same breed.
The source of irritation to pet-allergic humans? Glands in the animal's skin secrete tiny allergy-triggering proteins, called allergens, that linger in the animal's fur but also float easily in the air. Allergens are present in the animal's saliva and urine, too, and may become airborne when saliva dries on the fur. The severity of reaction to these allergens varies from one person to the next, ranging from mild sniffling and sneezing to life-threatening asthma, and can be complicated by simultaneous allergies to other irritants in the environment.
If your or a family member's allergies are simply miserable, but not life-threatening, take these steps to reduce the symptoms:

Create an "allergy free" zone in the homepreferably the bedroomand strictly prohibit the pet's access to it. Use a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner (available at almost any home and garden store or discount department store) in the bedroom. Consider using impermeable covers for the mattress and pillows because allergen particles brought into the room on clothes and other objects can accumulate in them.
Use HEPA air cleaners throughout the rest of the home, and avoid dust-and-dander-catching furnishings such as cloth curtains and blinds and carpeted floors. Clean frequently and thoroughly to remove dust and dander, washing articles such as couch covers and pillows, curtains, and pet beds. Use a "microfilter" bag in the vacuum cleaner to effectively catch all the allergens.

How to avoid pet due to cold weather

Please follow these guidelines to protect your companion animal when the temperature drops.
1] Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, cats can freeze, become lost or stolen, or be injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to fatal infectious diseases, including rabies.
2] During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes choose to sleep under the hoods of cars, where it is warmer. Then, when the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed in the fan belt. To prevent this, bang loudly on the hood of your car and wait a few seconds before starting the engine, to give a cat a chance to escape.
3] Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs frequently lose their scent in snow and ice and easily become lost. They may panic in a snowstorm and run away. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.
4] Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when she comes in out of the rain, snow or ice. Check her sensitive paw pads, which may bleed from snow or ice encrusted in them. Also, salt, antifreeze or other chemicals could hurt your dog if she ingests them while licking her paws.
5] If you own a short-haired breed, consider getting a warm coat or sweater for your dog. Look for one with a high collar or turtleneck that covers your dog from the base of her tail on top and to the belly underneath. While this may seem like a luxury, it is a necessity for many dogs.
6] Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold. Your companion animal could freeze to death.

The solution to pet behavior

What would you give to make your pet's behavior problems disappear? Believe it or not, most issues can be resolved in three simple steps. Follow along, and your pet will be humming "Ain't Misbehavin'" in no time!
Rule Out Medical Problems
Be careful not to confuse a behavior problem with a health issue. For instance, cats with feline lower urinary tract disease  often urinate outside their litter boxes. Prescribed medications can also have behavioral side effects. Consider the commonly prescribed medicine prednisone, an anti-inflammatory steroid. Side effects include increased water consumption and, as a result, increased urine output. Some of the cleanest dogs I know have house-training lapses when taking prednisone, unless their guardians provide additional elimination walks. Whenever medication is prescribed for your pet, ask about the side effects so you can be prepared.
Watch Your Reward Process
To paraphrase Thorndike's Law of Effect, rewarded behavior is likely to increase in frequency and unrewarded behavior is likely to decrease in frequency. Take Miss Puss. Each morning, she taps you on the face at four o’clock, letting you know that she'd like a can of kitty morsels. She seems in dire need of a meal, so you do her bidding—and unwittingly reward her behavior. You can bet she'll be back the next morning! She has learned that tapping yields tasty treats. However, if you had turned a cold shoulder to her early-morning pleas, Puss would have had no reward and no reason to try that tactic again.
What to do? You resolve to hang tough and ignore Miss Puss's entreaties from now on. But be warned: what started out as a gentle love tap may now escalate to a forceful, extended-claw swat. This worsening behavior is called an "extinction burst." The animal throws everything she's got into the behavior that once netted her a reward, testing what it may take to garner a payoff before she gives up and moves on. Her poor guardian must remain unmoved in order to extinguish the misbehavior. Giving in teaches the animal that a concerted effort just might work.

How to foster a cat even if you think you can not

I encourage everyone I know to foster 
Not only does fostering provide an invaluable service to rescue groups and the shelters who depend on them (not to mention the pets themselves), it's a great way to learn about your own needs as a pet owner.
But I've heard a lot of excuses -- er, reasons -- why people can't or don't want to foster. So I was delighted to get the article below in a newsletter from the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society
With shelters overflowing and many people needing temporary care for their pets while they find new housing or weather a crisis, fostering is even more important these days. So print out this list and give it to everyone you know who thinks they just "can't" foster.
* I DON'T HAVE THE SPACE  
I used to think this too. Then a cat came along that really, really needed me ... and I made the space! All it takes is a small spare bedroom or office, a bathroom, or even a corner where you can set up a playpen cage, which you can borrow from us! While we do need foster cats to stay separate from your own cats, it doesn't take much space to do that. And remember, whatever space you have at home is probably more than the kitty has here at the shelter now!
* I MIGHT GET ATTACHED  
OK, yes, you might. But no matter how difficult it is to bring your kitty back to the shelter, just knowing that you're helping to save a life should ease any short-term pain. When you take in a foster cat, it gives us room to help other cats that might otherwise be brought to shelters that euthanize for time and space. It also lets us learn more about a cat's personality than we ever could in a shelter environment, which, in turn, makes the cat much easier to adopt out. Yes, some cats are harder to bring back than others, but be strong! You can do it! 
* MY OWN CATS WON'T TOLERATE A FOSTER CAT, ESPECIALLY AN ADULT
If you have a separate room, this shouldn't be much of a problem. Yes, your cat(s) will know there is another cat in the house, and they may be a little upset about it at first. But chances are they'll get over it pretty quickly, especially if you make sure you wash your hands after visiting with the foster cat and keep the cats from seeing each other if possible. Feliway Comfort Zone diffusers or Rescue Remedy flower essence can also help. Tell your cats they need to help do their part too! Eventually, they will be totally nonchalant about the whole idea of fostering. 
* I CAN'T AFFORD TO TAKE ANOTHER CAT 
This one is easy! You can get all your food and litter from MRFRS if you like, and MRFRS covers all medical expenses associated with foster cats! If you buy your own supplies for fosters, save the receipts so you can take a tax deduction!

Why cats scratch to items

Scratching is a normal part of cat behavior and serves several functions, including conditioning of the claws, providing a means of stretching, and acting as a marker (both olfactory, or scent, and visual). Cats like to scratch! The act of scratching actually removes frayed and worn outer claws, exposing new, sharper ones. However, what is normal cat behavior can become frustrating to deal with for cat owners -- particularly when the cat in question starts destroying furniture or even scratching members of the family.
The vast majority of cats will live happy, non-furniture-destroying lives without being declawed, and a few extra steps taken by the caring pet parent can help to ensure this is the case. In most cases, problem scratching can be prevented with environmental and behavioral management.

Why does my cat scratch everything?
In some cases, keeping the cat away from the area that is being damaged is the simplest solution to the problem. Another variation is to allow the cat to have access to whatever is being scratched inappropriately, but to make that area unattractive to the cat while making a more appropriate area more attractive. Many cats scratch the couch because they simply do not have another option to exercise their scratching needs. All cats have a need to scratch and should be provided with appropriate posts to do so. Hopefully, your cat is not scratching but you are trying to pre-empt a problem.
Most cats prefer to scratch a vertical surface that is tall enough to allow them to fully arch their backs and really get into it, but also stable enough they don't have to worry about toppling it. Cat trees or condos can be an excellent option if they are well-constructed of the appropriate materials, as they also provide cats with the ability to get above their surroundings -- another very natural cat behavior!

How much time to walk your dog outdoors

If you live in the city, your urban canine is probably on a three-walk-a-day schedule for exercising, socializing, and eliminating. But if your home comes equipped with a yard and a fence, keeping a dog becomes much easier. The simplicity of giving your dog his morning constitutional while you're still garbed in a robe and slippers can't be beat. Add a dog door, and you don't even have to get out of bed! Phydeau can meet his own needs on his own schedule. However, some dog guardians use the yard as a crutch, and, before you know it, the backyard becomes Phydeau's entire world. How much is too much of a good thing

When dogs become adolescents, they can't seem to get enough exercise, and their inconsistencies often frustrate their owners. One day Phydeau seems all grown up; the next day, he's chewing his way through the house like a buzz saw. In a fit of pique, Phydeau's owner banishes him to the backyard. At first it may be just during meals to prevent begging, or when company comes, to prevent jumping. Next, it's during work hours so he doesn't soil or chew when left alone. Before long, the only time Phydeau sees the inside of the house is during storms or winter freezes. Is this any life for a dog?
Turning a rambunctious adolescent into a backyard dog doesn't solve anything. It merely brings temporary relief. True, your dog can't climb into cranky old Aunt Edna's lap if he's outdoors, but he'll also never learn how to behave appropriately around house guests.
A dog who's kept outside experiences social isolation. He may engage in excessive barking and howling in an attempt to reunite his pack. When a family member enters the yard to spend some time with him, he erupts into rapturous leaps and vocalizations, displaying a level of enthusiasm certain to squelch any possibility that that person will ever make a return visit.

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