Universal Press Syndicate
This is the summer when people are discovering the wonders close by, skipping that exotic jet-away for a vacation that's shorter, cheaper and accessible by car. And that means a lot of pets are going, too.
The trend toward taking dogs along has been building for a long time, with both low-end and luxury hotels increasingly not only accepting dogs, but also actively welcoming them with such previously unheard-of lures as room service and dog walkers.
The best way to plan your pet-friendly vacation? Check out Web sites and guidebooks dedicated to traveling with pets, and look for ads in pet-related magazines and newsletters. You'll find information as to which restaurants welcome dogs on their patios, which beaches or other recreational areas offer legal off-leash exercise, and even the locations of the nearest self-serve dog wash. You'll always want to know the location of nearby veterinarians, as well, just in case.
Don't rely on any listing or book too much, though. Policies change, which is why it's essential to always call ahead and confirm that pets are still welcome where you've made your reservations. And don't forget to ask about weight limits: Some hotels welcome dogs, but only small ones.
Even though more people than ever are traveling with their dogs, there are plenty of people who don't like sharing space with the four-legged tourists. There are also plenty of resort properties that are one pet mess away from changing to a no-dog policy. That means you and your dog must be above reproach, to keep a great place open for future pet travel.
Three rules for considerate pet travel:
-- Keep 'em clean. Your dog should be healthy, well-groomed and clean-smelling. Always dry off wet dogs and wipe off muddy feet -- using your towels, not the motel's -- before allowing your dog inside. Cover furniture, carpets and bedspreads with your old sheets and towels. And if you need to bathe your dog, be sure, again, to use your towels and clean up afterward.
-- Keep 'em under control. Your dog should be obedient, friendly but not annoying, and never aggressive -- not to people, not to pets and not to wildlife. Do not allow your dog to bark uncontrollably. Use your best judgment as to when to let a dog off the leash in areas where doing so is allowed, and be sure that your dog isn't annoying other people or pets.
-- Pick up after 'em. Take your dog to out-of-the-way places on resort property to do his business -- the corner of the far parking lot, not the grassy inner courtyard. No leg-lifting allowed near rooms and eating areas. Make it so the pickiest dog hater on Earth wouldn't notice that your dog has been around.
And finally, don't forget to show your appreciation. Those of us who travel with our pets realize it's a privilege, not a right, to have a nice place to stay in. So along with keeping your pet from being a nuisance, don't forget to say "thank you" to resort staff, and tip generously when appropriate. Pets mean extra work for the people who work at these places, so let's try to keep them on our side.
College pets not the best idea
Q: I am going off to college in the fall, and I am going to miss my cat so much. She is as old as I am -- 18 -- which means she's really better off staying home with my parents. What do you think about adopting a kitten now? I'm getting an apartment for school. -- U.T., via e-mail
A: I honestly think you'd be better off waiting until you're done with college to adopt, or at least wait until you've settled in to the college routine for a few months or even the first year.
The shelters and rescue groups of every college town in the country are constantly dealing with the former pets of college students. Finding and keeping housing that allows pets is a major challenge. So, too, can be finding the time and energy to care for a pet when there's so much to do and try when you're in college. And don't forget that pets can be expensive to maintain, and very few college students have much money to spare.
Even if you can find suitable housing, have you thought about what you'll do with your cat during school breaks? If you're planning on going home when you're not in school, you might find your parents unwilling to have your cat become a member of the family, even temporarily. Your elderly cat at home probably isn't going to welcome the company, either.
Why don't you volunteer at a shelter instead? You'll be able to pet all the cats you want, and by helping with their socialization, you'll be making the animals more likely to be adopted.
You'll have plenty of time in your life for a pet of your own. Focus on college now, so you can provide a good home for yourself and your pets in the future. -- Gina Spadafori
Worms? Maybe not
Q: Our dog is dragging his behind on the lawn. Can you recommend the best wormer from the pet store? -- P.R., via e-mail
A: It may not be worms. When a dog scoots across the carpet or grass on his rear, he's trying to relieve an itch or irritation. Parasites like tapeworms can be one source of that irritation. It can also be impacted or infected anal sacks, fecal material that is clinging to the hair, or even constipation or diarrhea.
Your pet needs to see a veterinarian. The only way to relieve your pet's discomfort is to get an accurate diagnosis followed by proper treatment for the condition. Don't guess at what's wrong -- get help. -- Dr. Marty Becker
(Do you have a pet question? Send it to email@example.com.)
Canine collar tags have a long history
-- People have always wanted some way to get a roving dog home. And government authorities have always wanted a way to either put a property tax on a dog or, in later years, ensure that the animal was vaccinated against rabies. Dogs have been licensed for centuries, but the idea of a tag to signify that a dog was "street legal" seems to date back to the late 19th century, when Cincinnati started issuing tags on an annual basis, and other cities and states soon followed suit. While governments used to issue some tags that were creative and downright adorable -- shaped like doghouses, acorns, police shields and more -- today's tags are the height of utilitarian design. That's why the old tags are valuable, with prices for examples of whimsical appearance, decent condition and age going for hundreds of dollars.
-- Japanese termites may be beating out rabbits when it comes to breeding, according to the Smithsonian magazine. One species of termites in Japan is capable of cloning, with cloned queens mating with males to increase reproductive capacity for the colony.
-- The canary is well-known for his vocal talents and vibrant color. Canaries hail originally from the Canary Islands, which were named not for their most famous residents, but for the dogs the Romans found there ("canis" being Latin for "dog"). While most people think of canaries as yellow, canaries in fact come in many colors and varieties, thanks to centuries of selective breeding. Canaries can be sleek or plump in body type, and smooth or puffy when it comes to feathers, with colors from yellow to bright orange to greens and browns. Only male canaries sing. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker Shannon
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "Good Morning America" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are also the authors of several best-selling pet-care books.
On PetConnection.com there's more information on pets and their care, reviews of products, books and "dog cars." Contact Pet Connection in care of this newspaper by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting PetConnection.com.
Open windows can be hazardous for cats
Don't let a cool breeze tempt you to open the window and put your cat at risk. Although cats are able to right themselves in midair and land on all four feet, they're also capable of being badly hurt in the process.
The biggest risk is from a fall that's two to six stories in height. Cats often survive falls from higher floors -- although they're usually injured -- because it's thought they have more time to right themselves and brace for impact. Cats have survived falls of up to 30 stories or more, and have died from shorter falls.
Veterinarians call the phenomenon the "high-rise syndrome," but warn all cat lovers to protect pets from falls of any height.
Many cat lovers assume their pets would be smart enough to be careful when up high enough for injuries, but it's just not in an animal's ability to make that kind of judgment call. Cats are comfortable in high places, and they cannot understand the difference in risk between a one-story fall and a six-story fall.
The best way to prevent falls and injuries is to keep windows closed. But if you must seek a cool breeze, make sure you have sturdy screens to keep cats off the outer sill. Screens are meant for bugs, not cats, so there's no guarantee that they'll hold up to a feline determined to get out. But they should discourage most from trying. -- Gina Spadafori
BY THE NUMBERS
Reasons pets end up homeless
The National Council of Pet Population and Policy has studied the reasons why pets end up homeless, in order to help people work through issues in hopes of keeping pets in their homes. The top reasons pets are given up:
1. Too many in house
4. Cost of pet maintenance
5. Landlord issues
6. No homes for littermates
7. House soiling
8. Personal problems
9. Inadequate facilities
10. Doesn't get along with other pets
2. Landlord issues
3. Cost of pet maintenance
4. No time for pet
5. Inadequate facilities
6. Too many pets in home
7. Pet illness
8. Personal problems
10. No homes for littermates
Feline asthma can be helped
Labored breathing is always a cause for alarm, and any cat who's in respiratory distress needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away. For some cats, the diagnosis may be feline asthma, a condition similar to the human disease that is treated in a similar way.
In cats, labored, open-mouth breathing and a dry hacking cough -- sometimes mistaken for a hairball hack -- can be signs of asthma.
Any cat with these symptoms needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian and to have a treatment plan drawn up and followed. Treatment for feline asthma involves managing the environment to eliminate or lessen allergic triggers, such as dust from certain litters, in combination with medications to relax the airways and reduce inflammation.
Don't take your cat's breathing problems for granted, since feline asthma can be life-threatening if left untreated. Medications and environmental management can help a cat live with the disease, but it cannot be cured. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Pet Connection is produced by a team of team of pet-care experts headed by "Good Morning America" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are also the authors of several best-selling pet-care books. Contact Pet Connection in care of this newspaper, by sending e-mail to email@example.com or by visiting PetConnection.com.