Monday, September 28, 2009


Rabies is a viral infection of the nervous system transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Worldwide about 50,000 people die from rabies each year, mostly in developing countries where programs for vaccinating dogs against rabies don't exist. But the good news is that problems can be prevented if the exposed person receives treatment before symptoms of the infection develop.

Look after the jump to see how PA ranks out of the rest of the United States with rabies exposure.

Total Cases of Rabies Positive Animals in 2008: 431

Total Domestic Animals: 60
-Total Number of Dogs: 3
-Total Number of Cats: 3

Total Wild Animals: 371
-Total Number of Raccoons: 228
-Total Number of Bats: 43
-Total Number of Skunks: 71

Pennsylvania is the 5th highest ranked state in the United States for proven cases of rabies in domestic and wild animals. Make sure your pet's vaccinations are current! Even if they are indoor only there is always the chance they will sneak out or get loose and come in contact with an infected animal.

More information about rabies can be found on the World Health Organization website.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Speedlinks: September 17, 2009

Your portal to the most interesting, absurd, and unbelievable animal stories in the news today.

Cats found to be plotting takeover of mankind.
-Stage 1: Infiltrate human socity.
-Stage 2: Make the humans do our bidding.

Indoor dog parks big hit in areas with inclement weather.

World's most expensive dog sold to a woman in China. How much would you pay for one?

Ever wonder what the world looks like from an animal's perspective? Now you can see for yourself with Animal Cam!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Choosing The Right Pet For You: The Chinchilla

Find out more about the requirements and special needs for this amazing and unique pet after the jump.

Looking like a cross between a squirrel and gerbil, chinchillas are unique and entertaining pets. Related to guinea pigs, chinchillas are native to the Andes Mountains in South America and are recognized worldwide for the soft, luxurious fur. They are nocturnal (meaning they are generally most active at night) and have an average life span of 10 years.

Where Can I Find One:

Most chinchillas can be purchased from pet stores or through breeders; though they can also often be found at exotic pet shows. Be sure to pick out a healthy looking animal that is bright and alert, moves quickly when startled, and is neither too fat nor too thin. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to feel a thin layer of fat over the ribs with only slight pressure. Also avoid any animal that has diarrhea or moistness around the anal area, as this may indicate a gastrointestinal problem. Luckily, most pet stores and breeders offer a 48hr health guarantee for your new pet so it is important to take them to a veterinarian familiar with chinchillas to have their overall health checked within this time period.

Cage Setup:
Your chinchilla should be kept in a cage that allows plenty of room for exercise. They are active animals that will benefit from a cage large enough to allow easy movement. Multi-tiered wire mesh ferret cages are popular with many chinchilla owners for this very reason. If you do use a wire mesh cage be sure to cover part of the floor with either plexiglass or a piece of wood to relieve some of the pressure on their feet from the wire cage. Newspaper can be used as a cheap substrate in the bottom of the cage to catch any droppings and urine. It is recommended to clean the cage at least weekly with soap and water but be sure to rinse the cage thoroughly before putting your pet back in.

Your chinchilla will also benefit from a having a soft blanket or towel to sleep in. Just make sure your chinchilla isn't chewing on it or eating it as this may lead to a blockage that could be potentially fatal. Small chew toys or pieces of wood are much better options for your chinchilla to give his teeth a workout on. These objects will help wear down their teeth and keep your pet healthy. Lastly, make sure there is a small bowl or container setup for their dust bath. More on this interesting behavior will be covered at the end of the article.

A chinchilla diet consists mainly of grass hay offered freely 24 hrs a day. On occasion alfalfa, fresh fruits and vegetables, or some grains can be offered as a small treat but be sure to only offer these sparingly. If you wish to offer rabbit/chinchilla pellets as a diet supplement you may do so but don’t offer any more than a few tablespoons. Water should be available 24 hrs a day in either a dish or water bottle. Make sure to check the water bottle daily as food can get stuck in it and prevent it from working.

Special Considerations For Owning a Pet Chinchilla:
Fur Slip:
If stressed or handled too roughly chinchillas have the ability to release or “slip” patches of fur off. Normally no permanent damage occurs from this and the fur will generally re-grow, although it may take several months.

Antibiotic Sensitivity:
Like other rodents, chinchillas are very susceptible to antibiotic toxicity. Some antibiotics, like penicillin and erythromycin, can even be fatal. For this reason, owners should NEVER give their pet chinchilla and medications without first checking with their veterinarian.

Dust Bathing:
Chinchillas have a unique grooming habit called dust bathing. Every day, they should be provided with a bath containing 9 parts of silver sand to 1 part of Fuller’s earth; these ingredients are available at most pet stores. Enough dust should be provided for the chinchilla to roll around in. Be sure to remove the dust bath after each use and to make sure it remains free of any urine or feces.

Heat Stroke:
Chinchillas, like many rodents, are very susceptible to heat stroke. They have a thick coat that is great for surviving cool mountain temperatures but not for the summer heat in an uncooled room. Environmental temperatures should be kept below 80 oF (27 oC); and high humidity should be avoided as well.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Household Hazards: The Kitchen

Over the course of the next few months we will be posting articles describing potential hazards to your pets that can be found throughout your home. We start this series with an article about the hazards that can be found in a room we use every day to prepare our own meals...the kitchen.

The kitchen may seem like a fairly safe place for our pets to most of us. After all if it’s OK for me to eat why shouldn’t it be OK for Fido as well? In truth we must remember that cats and dogs are very different from people and that many foods that we eat on a daily basis can actually be harmful to our pets. It is important that we pay attention when our pets are in the kitchen with us to make sure that they don’t accidentally get any potentially harmful foods.

Foods to watch out for:
-chewing gum, candy, and breath fresheners containing xylitol
-coffee grounds
-fatty foods
-macadamia nuts
-yeast dough

Being food conscious doesn’t just stop at the dinner table either. We must make sure that our pets can’t get into the trash and eat our food scraps as well. Often times the food they find in here can be moldy or have bacteria growing on it and these can also make our pets sick.

Cleaning supplies are another potential hazard to our pets that can often be found in the kitchen. While many household cleaners are safe to use around dogs and cats it is important to read the labels before we use them. For example, if the label states “keep pets and children away until dry,” follow these directions to prevent possible health risks. Another example would be using bleach. While bleach can often be used safely with no ill effects if it is used in high enough concentrations the vapors can irritate the eyes, throat, and skin and if swallowed may cause stomach upset, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, or severe burns.

In general to prevent any accidents it is best to store all cleaning supplies in a secure cabinet out of reach of pets and in their original packaging or a clearly labeled and tightly sealed container.