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ALL ABOUT

PETS

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014

BEST BREEDS PETS D ALL ABOUT

FOR FIRST-TIME DOG OWNERS

eciding to get a dog can be a life-altering moment. While the decision carries with it a wealth of responsibility, a dog can change a person’s life for the better, providing loyalty and companionship for years to come.

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Best Breeds for First Time God Owners Beginners Guide to Reptiles as Pets Did You Know? Establish a LowMaintenance Aquarium

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Hypoallergenic Pets New England Veterinary Medical Center Specializes in Exotic Pets Finding a Reliable Sitter Director of Special Sections ADRIENNE ALTOBELLI Director of Advertising JOHN LAYTON

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LABRADOR RETRIEVER:

A close cousin to the golden retriever, labradors are another breed known for their good nature and willingness to be trained. Labs

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Descriptions of breed temperament can provide a window into the general personality of certain dogs. But such descriptions are not set in stone, as each dog is unique and may exhibit behaviors extraordinary to its breed. Factors such as socialization and training play key roles in how dogs will react in situations, and the following are some dog breeds that have a propensity to be easy-going and relatively easy to train.

Golden retrievers tend to be gregarious, docile and a good fit for families. They are people-oriented, affectionate and loyal. Golden retrievers are moderately-sized dogs that need exercise to prevent boredom (which can compel them to cause damage around the home). But golden retrievers are generally a good fit for first-time dog owners.

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Once the decision to get a dog has been made, prospective pet owners must choose a breed. Various factors play into this decision, including how much space the dog will have at home, the grooming responsibilities that come with a particular breed and the typical demeanor of a given breed. Because no two breeds or owners are the same, some dog-owner combinations may make for a better pairing than others.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER:

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shed and can grow large, so that is something apartment-dwellers must consider before bringing home a lab.

STANDARD POODLE:

Poodles are an intelligent breed that are easily trained. Poodles can be high strung if not given ample exercise, so this is something prospective poodle owners need to consider.

CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL:

This is a well-proportioned and smaller dog that is typically affectionate, happy and outgoing. Typically eager to please and intelligent enough for obedience training, the cavalier is naturally well-behaved and can get along well with other pets.

BOSTON TERRIER:

The Boston terrier, also known as the “Boston Bull,” is a compact brute of a dog. Although small in size, the Boston terrier does not lack for personality and tends to be playful and friendly with a willingness to learn. Bostons do require a firm human leader; otherwise, they may believe they run the show. These breeds are offered as examples of good breeds for first-time dog owners. However, there are plenty of other breeds out there that would make ideal pets, even for the novice dog owner. Socialization, training and exercise are essential to shaping a dog into a trusted and happy member of the family.


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BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO REPTILES AS PETS

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ogs and cats may be the most popular pets, but reptiles have their share of admirers as well. Reptiles can make great pets, and they may be ideal for children or novice pet owners.

Unlike cats or dogs, many reptiles need a very specific environment to thrive. That includes some sort of UV light, a warming stone and particularly hot conditions. Reptiles and amphibians are cold-blooded animals, meaning their body temperatures fluctuate based on the conditions of their environment. They will require an external heating source to stay comfortable. Certain reptiles may be better for beginners than others. Here is a look at some popular reptilian pets and what is necessary to care for them.

BEARDED DRAGON:

This animal hails from Australia and may grow up to two feet in length, most of which is in the tail. These lizards will need an appropriate housing structure, which should be a 55-gallon tank for the average-sized single male dragon. They require special light bulbs to absorb vitamins. Dragons are omnivorous, so you will have to provide both plant and animal food sources. Even though they come from arid conditions, spray the tank with water each day to provide them with a water source, as they will not drink from a bowl. Dragons are hardy and can endure even if some mistakes in care are made early on.

GREEN ANOLE:

Also known as the American chameleon, green anoles are another popular starter pet. Anoles are inexpensive, which makes them a great choice for first-time reptile owners. Anoles can be easy to care for if you meet the right re-

quirements. They need a high-humidity environment and daily misting. These reptiles also like to climb, so you will need to prepare the cage accordingly with a tight-fitting lid and a structure they can scale. While a male and female and even two females can be kept together, never put two males together, as they will fight and likely kill each other.

GECKO:

The leopard gecko can be a great lizard for beginners. Thanks to its small size and modest needs, a gecko does not need a large tank to live in. Geckos are also tolerant to handling and can grow accustomed to frequent touching. Keep in mind that geckos are nocturnal, which means they are most active in the evening. Invest in a special reptile light designed for viewing in the dark so that you do not interfere with the animal’s sleep-wake cycle. Also, try not to stress or frighten the leopard gecko. It has the ability to drop its tail if feeling threatened, which can put unnecessary stress on the animal.

NEWT:

Newts are almost exclusively aquatic or require high-humidity levels. You will need a tank with an area of sloped land for eating and sleeping. Another area should be filled with water for immersion. Newts are generally a pet that should be observed rather than handled, as they have sensitive membranes or toxic skin. Colorful newts can be enjoyable to watch and require little care besides water changes and feeding. Reptiles can make interesting and relatively maintenance-free pets. People looking for ideal starter pets may want to skip the furry in favor of the scaly.

PETS 3

DID YOU KNOW? Many of the unsavory behaviors associated with pet parrots are not inherent to the bird but are learned reactions that result from interacting with humans. In the wild, parrots are social creatures and do not need to look far to communicate with others. Often their calls are returned quite quickly by other parrots or birds. In solitary cages, parrots may try to get the attention of their caretakers through the usual means, only to find that they get no response.

become acquainted with the behaviors of parrots and avoid conditioning parrots to be poor companions. The bird owner should provide opportunities for socialization and time for play, and he or she should respect when the parrot wants to be hands-off. This can strengthen the parrot-owner relationship.

Over time, a parrot may resort to screaming or making other loud noises, which people are not able to ignore. If the parrot owner reprimands the parrot or acknowledges the screaming, he or she has just inadvertently let the parrot know that this is an effective way to gain attention. A similar thing occurs with biting. In the wild, parrots may use body language to warn off other animals before they need to resort to biting. However, humans may not be tuned into these clues and may end up pushing the boundaries with the bird. Biting may be the only way the parrot gets the message across that it does not want to be bothered at the time. Some parrots grow accustomed to biting simply because this gets the fastest reaction. Parrot owners need to

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ALL ABOUT

PETS

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014

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ESTABLISH

A LOW-MAINTENANCE AQUARIUM ish are often the pet of choice when people desire a pet that requires minimal care. While home aquariums may not require substantial maintenance, they cannot go entirely ignored, either. When ignored, aquariums can quickly transform from a visually stunning habitat into a murky, algae-infested mess. But as important as aquarium maintenance is, some additional factors can also influence the beauty of a home aquarium.

F

DON’T OVERSTOCK THE AQUARIUM

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INVEST IN A GOOD FILTER

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PLAN FOR WEEKLY PARTIAL WATER CHANGES

Larger tanks may be better than compact tanks, especially for new owners. That’s because larger tanks are generally more stable in terms of water balance. People mistakenly overcrowd their tanks with fish, and a small tank can easily be overrun by bacteria and fish waste. Upgrading to a larger tank (think 30 gallons) means fish will have the room they need and the water will not have to be changed as frequently to keep it clean. It’s tempting to put a fish tank where it can be seen by everyone. But if this spot gets a lot of sunlight or even ambient light from overhead fixtures, it may fall victim to excessive algae growth. Algae, like most plants, needs light and a food source to thrive. The fish will provide the food material, but owners can control the light to limit algae blooms. Once algae is present in large amounts, it can easily overrun the tank. Invest in a few algae-eater fish, such as plecos and some catfish.

It can be tempting to buy more and more fish for a home aquarium. But putting too many fish in a tank can throw the water balance off considerably and lead to a high amount of waste in the water. Fish that are an inch in size need roughly one gallon of water each. Fewer fish are easy to care for and won’t cloud up the water quickly. A variety of aquarium filters are available, and they can range from inexpensive to more costly. Be sure the filter you choose is large enough to accommodate the volume of water in the tank. It’s better to have a filter that’s too large for the tank than one that is too small. Look for a filter that will turn over all of the water in the tank at least four times per hour. Ample filtering means the water will remain crystal clear.

Siphon 10 to 20 percent of the water each week for optimal health. Try to vacuum around the gravel to remove trapped food particles and waste. Committing to this small bit of maintenance can go a long way toward creating a healthy tank that will not require more maintenance.

AVOID GOLDFISH AS A FIRST FISH

Goldfish are particularly dirty fish. They are often purchased because they tend to be inexpensive, but goldfish metabolize food quickly and produce a lot of waste. They can also grow quite large, requiring an upgrade to a larger tank much more quickly than some other fish. Guppies and platies make good starter fish. They’re tolerant of harsh aquarium conditions and quite hardy. All pets require a certain measure of care and maintenance. Although maintaining a fish tank may not require the daily effort of caring for cats or dogs, a tank still must be maintained to provide an ideal living environment for fish.


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ALL ABOUT

PETS 5

HYPOALLERGENIC PETS Canine Design, LLC MORE HYPE THAN FACT

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llergy sufferers are often advised to steer clear of pets, as brushing up to a cat or dog can trigger an allergy attack or a rash. Those with pet allergies may be willing to spend any amount of money to get a pet that is dubbed “hypoallergenic.” Although there are some breeds of dogs and cats that are less likely to trigger an allergic attack, some research indicates that a hypoallergenic pet is a myth.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit took dust samples from 173 dog-owning households, where 60 breeds were represented, including 11 breeds that are considered to be hypoallergenic. What they discovered was that homes with allegedly hypoallergenic pets contained just as much of the prime dog allergen, known as Can f 1, as those of the other breeds. According to senior author and epidemiologist Christine Cole Johnson, “There is simply no environmental evidence that any particular dog breed produces more or less allergen in the home than another one.” That doesn’t mean that all dogs produce the same amount of allergen as others. In fact, genetics and environmental factors, including how often a dog and a home is

ra the ext We go ake the m mile to process a g in what has helped us to m groo ee experince fr succeed and allows us to continue with our mission to support the needs stress-ofyour pet. Serving SE CT & SW RI Since 1997 for

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The generous support of our donors and volunteers is what has helped us to www.caninedesignCT.com succeed and allows us to continue with our mission to support the needs of 163 season S. Broad Street • (RT.1) Pawcatuck, • 860-599-4707 the shelter pets. Kitten is upon us, please remember the importanceCT of spaying and neutering your pets!

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cleaned, can contribute to the dander and allergens produced by a particular dog. Dogs within the same breed may vary as to how much Can f 1 one dog creates compared to another. In essence, one labrador may induce an allergic reaction, while the other doesn’t even cause a person to sneeze. The hypoallergenic label is often given to dog breeds that have short fur or do not shed much. But allergens are not attached to the fur. They are actually a secretion from the skin that produces an allergic reaction from dogs and the saliva of cats. Unless a geneticist is able to create a cat without allergens in saliva or a dog that does not secrete allergens from the skin, no pet will be hypoallergenic. That isn’t to say choosing a dog that sheds less may be beneficial, since dander with allergens is generally attached to shedded fur. Here are a few dog breeds that may be better for people with allergies. • Poodle • Bedlington Terrier • Bichon Frise • Chinese Crested ��� Portuguese Water Dog • Schnauzer • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier • Irish Water Spaniel • Maltese

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According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one out of every four people struggles with allergies and asthma on a regular basis, and 15 to 30 percent of these cases are dog- or cat-related. Those with allergies may think a hypoallergenic pet will be the answer to their watery eyes and sneezes. But a study published in the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy raises issues about hypoallergenic dogs. People who spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a dog purported to be hypoallergenic may just be wasting their money.

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Kitten season is upon us, please remember the importance of spaying and

Love animals and have some spareneutering time? Consider volunteering at the shelter! your pets!

Thank You!

Thank You! Thank You!

The generous support of our donors volunteers is what helped to Love and animals and have some has spare time?usConsider volunteering at the shelter! succeed and allows us to continue with our mission to support the needs of the shelter pets. The generous support of our donors and volunteers isThe what has helped us toof our The generous of our donorshas andhelped volunteers generous support donors andsupport volunteers is what us tois what ha succeed and allows to continue with ourremember missionsucceed to needs succeed and us to continue withthe ourneeds mission andthe allows usofto and continue withallows our mission to support of to suppor Kitten us season is upon us, please thesupport importance of spaying the shelter pets. the shelter pets. neutering your pets! the shelter pets.

Loveisanimals have some spare time? Consider volunteering at the shelter!Kitten season is upon us, please remember the importance of spayin Kitten season upon us, and please remember the importance of spaying and is upon Kitten season us, please remember the importance of spaying and neutering your pets! neutering your pets! neutering your pets!

Love animals and have some spare time? Consider volunteeringLove at the shelter! Lovetime? animals and have some spareattime? Consider volunteering at th animals and have some spare Consider volunteering the shelter!

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Thank You!

Thank You!

The generous of our donors and volunteers is what ha For Dogs & Theirsupport Families succeed and allows us to continue with our mission to suppor

The generous support of our donors and volunteers is what has helped us to succeed and allows us to continue with our mission to support the needs of the shelter pets.

the shelter pets.

Some of our classes: Kitten season is upon us, please remember the importance of spayin

Kitten season is upon us, please remember the importance of spaying and neutering your pets!

neutering your pets! Puppy Social • Puppy Kindergarten Love animals and have some spare time? Consider volunteering at th Basic Manners • Agililty Beyond Basics • Flyball • Out & About

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ALL ABOUT

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SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014

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We specialize in birds and exotic pets: Ferrets • Rabbits • Rats • Guinea Pigs • Chinchillas Hedgehogs • Mice • Hamsters • Frogs • Lizards • Turtles Snakes • Parrots • Chickens • Ducks • Prairie Dogs Degus • Sugar Gliders • Pot Belly Pigs • Cats and Dogs

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ALL ABOUT

PETS 7

NEW ENGLAND VETERINARY MEDICAL CENTER SPECIALIZING IN EXOTIC PET CARE By Mark Chanski Special to The Sun

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ig personalities often come in little packages, but one big surprise may be that these packages are often covered with feathers, fur, quills or scales! If this didn’t surprise you then you may own an exotic pet. These pets are commonly small in size but they certainly make up for it in personality. Exotic pet owners know that their pet’s diversity can pose challenges for everyone involved in their care both at home, or when they go to the veterinarian. Did you know?

• Some turtles and most birds need their toenails trimmed regularly? • Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas may require dental care? • Quills falling out of a hedgehog can be a sign of a health problem? • Seeds are NOT the appropriate diet for most birds? • An overgrown beak is a sign of an underlying ailment? • Spaying or neutering exotic pet species prolongs lives and permits pets of opposite sex to live together peacefully much like cats and dogs? The staff at New England Veterinary Medical Center certainly does understand all of these little-known facts, and much more. They specialize in caring for avian and exotic pets and are happy to offer routine care for your cats and dogs as well.

Much of the information pet owners receive about the care of exotic pets comes from pet store staff and the internet. Although most mean well, the majority do not have the necessary education or expertise to provide proper guidance that will ensure the long healthy life of the pet. Many people do not realize that routine veterinary care is available for exotic pets and is as important (if not more so) than for cats and dogs. These pets can become ill due to nutritional deficiencies, inappropriate environmental conditions, stress and many other factors. A visit with a board certified veterinarian will educate owners in a short period of time and assist them in creating an environment that helps to promote a long healthy life.

Few people give a second thought to the challenges of finding a qualified veterinarian to help with any medical/surgical needs when they acquire a pet. Cynthia J. Brown, DVM Diplomat ABVP (Avian), is the only Board Certified Veterinarian in Southeastern Connecticut. A native to Connecticut, Cyndi attended UCONN as an undergraduate and received her veterinary degree from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. Dr. Brown participated in a surgical and medical internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City (where there are over 100 veterinarians on staff) followed by a residency in Avian and Exotic pet medicine and surgery. She completed her residency in 2003 and remained on staff teaching interns, residents and technicians. Since then she has worked at several large veterinary teaching hospitals as an Avian and Exotic pet specialist. She moved back home to CT in 2008 and opened New England Veterinary Medical Center at its current location, 144 Whitehall Avenue, Mystic CT in 2011. Dr. Brown is a past-president of the Mid-Atlantic States Association of Avian Veterinarians, a journal column editor, has various publications on avian and exotic pet topics, and she lectures nationally and regionally to technicians and veterinarians. If you need:

• A wellness exam for your exotic pet • If you need to board your exotic pet • Your new pot-bellied pig spayed or neutered • If your parrot injures itself • If your ferret, rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla or snake stop eating • If your rat or rabbit is sneezing • If your frog has cloudy eyes • If your bearded dragon has diarrhea • If your prairie dog has a respiratory problem • Or if your beloved chicken needs veterinary care New England Veterinary Medical Center is the place for you!

The staff at New England Veterinary Medical Center is always more than happy to address your extended family member’s medical needs. New England Veterinary Medical Center (NEVMC) 144 Whitehall Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355 (860) 536-3999 www.nevmc.org

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Why Choose an ABVP Specialist? Your veterinarian is one of 135 ABVP, Avian Diplomates in the United States and abroad. What does that mean? It means your veterinarian made a choice to undergo a long and difficult process of additional studies and examination to become a board certified specialist recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This process takes a minimum of three years to complete and the motivation behind it is, very simply, excellence. For more information visit the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners www.abvp.com

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ALL ABOUT

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SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014

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All About Pets, 2014