January 8, 2011

PetScoop: Why Birds Are Such Brilliant Flying Machines


The above photo from Flying Machines, Amazing at Any Angle--New York Times shows the wake of a hovering rufous hummingbird. The yellow vectors show air velocity, revealed by particle image velocimetry. The mist in the background is a cloud of laser-illuminated olive oil droplets.

According to University of Montana Flight Laboratory biologist and lab director Bret W. Tobalske "the most astounding fliers...are the world's 350 or so species of hummingbirds, which, largely because of their size, have mastered flight like no other bird. The calliope hummingbird weighs only as much as two paper clips, yet it migrates annually between Canada and Mexico."

He and fellow director and biologist Kenneth P Dial research the mechanics of flight and "are obsessed with trying to bridge the gap in flying abilities between humans and birds." Interesting short article. Flying Machines, Amazing at Any Angle--New York Times.

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January 6, 2011

PetScoop: Animal-Assisted Therapy, A Growing Trend


There's something comforting about meeting up with a tranquil resident dog or a cat in an institutional setting where we don't expect to see them. We are all familiar with the phenomenon of library cats--generally homeless cats who call a library their home. In the best-seller Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World Myron, a small-town library director, tells of the remarkable impact a cat, named DeweyReadmore Books, had on the library and its patrons.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an intriguing piece on animal-assisted therapy, a field still in its infancy. The Doctor's Dog Will See You Now describes ways therapists use 'canine assistants' to comfort and cheer up their patients . One therapist calls the dogs "seeing heart dogs--because they can see into people's hearts".

A small but growing number of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and other therapists are bringing their dogs to work in their private practices, where they help calm patients down, cheer them up and offer a happy distraction with a wagging tail. The job is similar to what therapy dogs do when they visit at hospitals or nursing homes, but these "canine therapy-assistants" often work full days and get to know the patients just as well as the doctors.

No surprise to any dog lover, some research shows that a few minutes of stroking a pet dog decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, in both the human and the dog. Sunny veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker explores this phenomenon in his popular The Healing Power of Pets: Harnessing the Amazing Ability of Pets to Make and Keep People Happy and Healthy.

But not all agree. In a New York Times Opinion article Fido's No Doctor. Neither Is Whiskers. Hal Herzog, professor of psychology and author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals argues that, while "pretty to think so", the research on the healing power of animals is incomplete.

Unfortunately, however, I also have another stack of articles, almost as high, showing that pets have either no long-term effects or have even adverse effects on physical and mental health.

A 2006 survey of Americans by the Pew Research Center, for instance, reported that living with a pet did not make people any happier. Similarly, a 2000 Australian study of mortality rates found no evidence that pet owners lived any longer than anyone else. And last year Dutch researchers concluded that companion animals had no effect on their owners' physical or mental well-being. Worse, in 2006, epidemiologists in Finland reported that pet owners were more likely than non-pet owners to suffer from sciatica, kidney disease, arthritis, migraines, panic attacks, high blood pressure and depression.

Professor Herzog cautions that in order to separate fact from wishful thinking regarding the benefits of animal companionship we must employ "the same rigorous methods that scientists use to test the effectiveness of drugs and medical procedures".

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December 30, 2010

Wacky Facts About Cats and Dogs


We cat and dog lovers know a lot about our pets, and we can learn something new every day. In case you need to break the ice tonight, or any other time, we have dug up some dog and cat facts that should come in handy as conversation starters.


1. Nose-to-nose greetings between cats are unusual, as it puts both in a vulnerable position. However, cats who know each other well but have been apart for a while feel safe enough to do this to confirm visual recognition and gain information about how the other cat is, where he has been and what he has been doing.

2. Purring usually indicates contentment, however, a deep purr can also indicate pain. If you know your cat well you will be able to tell the difference in his demeanor.

3. Cats start to purr at one week old and can do so continually as they inhale and exhale.

4. Young cats purr in a monotone, while older ones do so in two to three resonant notes.

5. Scientist still do not know exactly how the purring sound is made, although some believe that it originates in the cardiovascular system rather than the throat.

6. Cats appear to retain their kitten vocal signals to communicate with their owners, but they use and adult repertoire of sound with other cats.

7. Like dogs, cats can also get sick or die from eating chocolate.

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December 29, 2010

Why Pet Ownership Can Be So Expensive


We have read a couple of articles recently regarding the (high) cost of animal ownership. It's more than worth it for most of us--after all, money is for spending on necessities, and pets are a necessity in a lot of our homes. Get the scoop at the Animal Lovers, Beware of Ownership Costs -- NY Times and the follow-up article Why the animal ER is so expensive (Pet economics 101) -- Fully Vetted/Pet MD

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December 28, 2010

The Email About Cats/Dogs I Was Talking About Last Night!

pawprint1110.jpgFound in our Super Cool Pets mailbox on a recent morning:


The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

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December 27, 2010

PetScoop -- Games to Play with Your Dog with Stuff You Already Have Around the House


Is your dog getting cabin fever with this chilly weather? Get everyone's blood moving and play some games! Feeling lazy? Round up the children or your significant other.

Stimulating games can be easy using items you already have lying around the house-- socks, tennis balls, garden hoses, paper cups and muffin tins.

For instance, you can play the all-time doggy favorite Tug-of-War with just a tennis ball and a sock. Get the scoop in Playing Games with Your Dog - No Special Equipment Needed over at Paw Nation.

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November 25, 2010

PetScoop: The National Dog Show Presented by Purina Airs Thanksgiving Day


The National Dog Show Presented by Purina, the most widely viewed dog show in America, is broadcast nationwide in high definition on NBC today Thanksgiving Day immediately following the Macy's Parade, around noon. It reaches an audience of nearly 20 million viewers each year.

The Kennel Club of Philadelphia's two benched, all-breed dog shows were actually held this year on Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21. The shows, sanctioned by The American Kennel Club, help raise money for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with support from the Purina ProPlan brand dog food.

The National Dog Show is one of the few remaining and oldest benched dog shows in the United States, held annually since 1933. A benched show requires the participating dogs to be stationed on assigned benches when they are not being shown in competition. Therefore, interested spectators, breeders, handlers and attendees can interact, ask questions, and share information about the various breeds present at the show. A non-benched dog show does not require all dogs to remain "benched" throughout the competition.

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November 24, 2010

PetScoop -- Tips for Safe Online Shopping


The Monday after Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday, has replaced Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) as the most popular holiday shopping day of the year, according to the National Retail Federation.

More and more of us are doing our shopping online -- last year, 96.5 million Americans shopped online during Cyber Monday; 79 million Americans actually shopped at the stores on Black Friday.

From this MainStreet article The Black Friday Myth, we learn this fun fact:

"About 95% of all the deals you find in stores are being offered online," Wilson says, citing that Best Buy, for example, has already said that it will honor all of its stores' Black Friday prices on its website. Last year, Bath and Body Works, New York and Co. and Leapfrog.com actually offered their deepest discounts online.

Shopping at home is convenient and less hassle, but, as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) cautions, online shoppers must be smart shoppers, too. Wallet Pop lists the BBB's suggestions in Top 10 Cyber Monday Tips for Safe Online Shopping:

1. Protect your computer

2. Shop on trustworthy websites

3. Protect your personal information

4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true

5. Beware of "phishing"

6. Confirm your online purchase is secure

7. Pay with a credit card

8. Keep documentation of your order

9. Check your credit card statements often

10. Know your rights

Read their article for a detailed explanation of the tips.

Thumbnail image for waitingsanta.jpgFor holiday gift ideas, browse our Super Cool Pets 2010 Holiday Gift Guide!

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October 1, 2010

Coyotes: Misunderstood, Out There and Here to Stay


Did you know that our domestic dogs can successfully interbreed with wolves and coyotes? These three are all species in the genus Canis, to which the dog, as you likely know, belongs. This has led to a "genetic mess" that researchers sometimes refer to as "Canis soupus", according to a recent NY Times article on coyotes, Mysteries That Howl and Hunt:

Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), coyotes (or Canis latrans, meaning "barking dog") and and every kind of wolf, from the red wolf to the Eastern wolf to the gray wolf (Canis lupus), can mate and produce perfectly healthy pups.

It's worthwhile getting to know coyotes, the wily but misunderstood cousin of our beloved domestic dog, since most of them live in suburbia, where a lot of us live. And apparently there are more around than previously thought. This short article will get you started. Here's a clip:

For a better understanding of these mysterious animals, read Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia by Stephen DeStefano, a wildlife biologist with the United States Geological Survey's Massachusetts Cooperative Research Unit. He narrates the travels of a female coyote, portraying coyotes not as urban "pests" but as animals that deserve our respect.

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September 30, 2010

PetScoop: FDA Cautions Buyer Beware If Purchasing Pet Drugs Online


Many of us try to save on costs by skirting our veterinarians and buying discount pet drugs online without a prescription. Some of the internet sites that sell pet drugs represent legitimate, reputable pharmacies (see links below), but not all. Alas, we may be buying drugs for our best pals from unscrupulous businesses operating illegally.

Buying prescription pet meds online without a prescription and even OTC meds may be risky, according to a recent FDA warning. The FDA has found companies that sell unapproved pet drugs and counterfeit pet products, make fraudulent claims, dispense prescription drugs without requiring a prescription, and sell expired drugs.

Is it worth the savings to possibly damage your pet's health and even maybe a life? Here's our solution. Many vets do indeed charge more for drugs than on-line sites, as they are, after all, trying to make a living. But when asked, some will price-match to products at certain legitimate on-line pharmacies. At very least, they often are willing to fax in your prescription to a reputable site.

Save Up To 50% Everyday! 1-800-PetMeds RX/125x125.gif

If you do wish to shop online, try 1-800-PetMeds with free shipping over $39 and PetCareRx who ship free on your orders over $35. They will contact your veterinarian for you.

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