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Why You Shouldn’t Release Snakes into the Wild

Why snakes shouldn't be released into the wild. (Corn snake)

Releasing pet snakes into the wild has increasingly become a big problem in the US. Sometimes snakes grow too large, become too expensive to feed, or too dangerous to handle. And for some, releasing the snakes into the wild seems like a viable option, and is done with good intentions. But releasing a captive snake into the wild can be cruel, as well as illegal.

Having been raised by humans, these reptiles have little to no survival skills and can succumb quickly to the harsh environmental elements that are foreign to them. They can wind up dying—from exhaustion or starvation, getting hit by vehicles, or being killed by a predator.

If the snake does survive, it can become known as an invasive species, if it’s in a non-native environment. This can have serious implications for the greater ecosystem. Invasive species can cause problems by preying on native plants and animals, competing for limited resources, or by introducing parasites and diseases not normally found in the area.

So what are the alternatives?

  • Find a reptile rescue shelter that can care for the snake and find it a home
  • Contact the store or snake’s breeder to discuss returning it or having them help you find a home
  • Talk to local zoos—they may be able to house the snake
  • Search online for people looking to adopt a reptile
  • Contact your vet for recommendations or assistance

Choosing one of these alternatives will protect your local ecosystem and the native species in it, as well as helping your snake live a long, healthy life.

Tips on How to Prevent & Remove Ticks

How to prevent and remove ticks.

Ticks are not only a nuisance, they can transmit diseases which can seriously harm your dog. Depending on your location, your dog could be subject to ticks year round, or at minimum three seasons of the year.

The four species of ticks and their active seasons are:

  • Brown Dog Tick – active all year
  • American Dog Tick, Deer Tick, Lone Star Tick – only present in spring, summer and fall

To keep your dog healthy and safe from tick-transmitted diseases, prevention is key. You must be aware of the environments where ticks can be found: on your dog, inside your home, and outdoors. Products like K9 Advantix II and Frontline Plus are topical treatments for preventing ticks from attaching to your dog. An indoor spray or fogger is a good option for treating your house—it will keep ticks and fleas away for up to 7 months. For treating the outdoor areas of your home, there are sprays you can attach to your water hose that will kill fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other insects.

If a tick ends up on your dog, removal is quick and easy with a product called Tick Key. It’s the only tick removal device that uses natural forward leverage to remove the entire tick, including the head. Tick Key is 99.9% effective on the safe removal of ticks from dogs as well as people.

Here are some other tips for removing ticks:

  • Don’t remove ticks with your fingers. The tick will most likely be carrying pathogens to diseases which are dangerous to pets and humans. Avoid getting tick saliva or blood on any parts of your skin.
  • Don’t squeeze, crush or squash a tick. Doing so can get the tick’s bodily fluids on the host.
  • Don’t attempt a “home remedy”. Using petroleum jelly or other substances in an attempt to smother the tick will be unsuccessful, as the tick can live without air for long periods of time. Using a lighter, fingernail polish remover or other repellents to try to force the tick to remove itself will also not work. In fact, it could cause the tick to vomit onto its host, which could end up transmitting the diseases you were trying to avoid.

How to Help Your Fat Cat Become a Fit Cat

Putting your fat cat on a diet.

Keeping a cat fit is a challenge, since they live mostly inside and love to sleep all day. So it’s no surprise that more than half of the cats in the United States are overweight. While an overweight cat may seem cute, their excess fat can cause more serious health problems, like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease. With all of this in mind, we have some tips to share for helping your cat to get—and stay—in great shape.

  • Food quality: Cat’s bodies are designed to process a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Feeding a cat solely dry food and processed treats contributes to their weight gain. Dry food tends to be higher in carbohydrates, while wet food is generally protein-rich. For a little variety, Pet Supermarket offers a large assortment of delicious canned foods as part of your cat’s healthy diet.
  • Food quantity: Find out how much food your cat actually needs, which can vary based on age, breed and activity level, and limit their daily intake to that amount. If you “free feed” them, they’re much more likely to overeat.
  • Skip the milk: Despite popular belief, milk is very bad for cats. They lack the necessary enzyme for breaking down the lactose found in milk. Instead, provide plenty of fresh water in a bowl that’s cleaned daily.
  • Keep playing: Increase your cat’s activity level by playing with them more frequently. Laser pointers and feathers are examples of toys that most cats love and will chase, helping them to burn off more calories. We have an outstanding selection of cat toys that will keep your cat mentally stimulated and motivated to play.
  • On the hunt: Give your cat a challenge and get him moving by hiding his food in small bowls around your house. Not only will he get moving trying to find it, it will also engage him mentally as he “hunts” his “prey”.

With some awareness and a little bit of time, you can turn your fat cat into a lean, mean purring machine.

How & Why to Bathe Your Bird

Bathing birds

Unlike most other pets, birds actually enjoy taking baths. Bathing is important for birds, as it not only removes dirt, but also helps to maintain skin moisture and the insulating properties of feathers. While figuring out what works best for your bird can take a little time and effort, it is important to your bird’s health and therefore necessary.

  • There are a few simple rules that apply to bathing for all birds:Use a bird bath spray or plain, clear water—no soaps or shampoos. Birds produce a special oil that they preen their feathers with, and soaps can strip the feathers of this essential oil.
  • Bathe your bird during the warmest part of the day. Wet birds get easily chilled, which is a serious health hazard. Make sure there’s enough time for their feathers to dry before the temperature drops. Some larger birds may allow you to wrap them in a towel to help them dry.
  • Use lukewarm or room temperature water. Water that’s too hot or too cold can shock your bird’s system, not to mention burns or other problems that could arise.
  • Never soak your bird’s feathers. In the wild, a bird would only become saturated with water in extreme circumstances. This can lead to loss of body heat and flight impairment.
  • Never use an electric hair dryer on your bird. It can quickly and seriously burn your bird, and may even emit toxic fumes.

Some birds enjoy bathing every day and others only occasionally. Initially offer the bath once or twice weekly to figure out your bird’s preference. Where to bathe your bird depends on its size. Smaller birds can bathe inside their cages, while larger birds may need to be bathed in the shower, kitchen sink or bathtub, or with a spray bottle or mister.

How Dogs Show Affection

How your dog show's affection

They are called “man’s best friend” for good reason. Dogs are affectionate creatures, and it’s because of their unconditional love that we keep them by our sides.

Here are just a few of the ways dogs show affection for their humans.

  • Tail Wagging
    Perhaps one of the most obvious signs of happiness, a wagging tail signifies pure joy. If the mere sight of you prompts your dog’s tail to wag, that’s a pretty sure sign that he’s very fond of you.
  • Leaning
    A dog leaning on you means they consider you someone who can protect them and keep them safe, as well as a way of showing their affection by wanting to be close to you and seeking attention.
  • Cuddling
    It’s no question that dogs are motivated by food. But the thing your dog does immediately after eating is a telling sign of what’s important to him. If your dog cuddles with you right after eating, that’s a good sign of puppy love.
  • Sleeping in your room or in your bed
    Regardless of how you feel about your dog sleeping in your bed and whether you allow it, if your dog has the option to sleep near you and chooses to do so, that’s a display of affection and loyalty.
  • Following you around
    Dogs are social creatures, so they want to be with their pack. If your dog follows you around, he is clearly devoted to you and wants to be wherever you are.

According to studies, dogs can sense your love for them, which they return to you. The dog-human bond is indeed very special.

Which Common Plants are Poisonous to Cats?

Learn which plants are poisonous to cats.

If your cat has ever ingested a dangerous substance, you know how scary it can be. Luckily, most of these scary situations are preventable.

To help keep your cat safe, here is a list of some common plants that are known to be poisonous to cats.

Autumn Crocus: can cause an intense burning sensation in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver and kidney damage, or even heart arrhythmias. Although the entire plant is considered toxic to cats, the toxicity is highest in the bulbs.

Lilies: the tiger, day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese lilies are highly toxic to cats. One bite of a leaf, or even just the pollen from a plant in the lily family can cause lethargy and vomiting within 12 hours of ingestion. If not treated, your cat may go into kidney failure.

Corn Plant: (also known as cornstalk plant, dracaena, dragon tree or ribbon plant) contains saponin, which is toxic to cats. If the plant is ingested, vomiting (with or without blood), appetite loss, depression and/or increased salivation can occur. Affected cats may also have dilated pupils.

Azalea: even ingestion of just a few leaves of Azaleas can cause oral irritation with subsequent vomiting and diarrhea in cats. In severe cases, ingestion can cause a drop in blood pressure, coma and death.

Daffodil: although the entire plant is considered toxic to cats, it is the bulb that is the most toxic. Ingestion of any portion of a daffodil can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, arrhythmias, convulsions, and a serious drop in blood pressure.

Sago palm: also known as the Coontie Palm, or the Cardboard Palm, the Sago Palm is an extremely poisonous plant to cats. When ingested it can cause bloody vomiting and diarrhea, bleeding disorders, liver failure and death.

Aloe: (also known as medicine plant or Barbados aloe) is a common succulent containing aloin, a substance toxic to cats. The bitter yellow substance is found in most aloe species and may cause vomiting and/or reddish urine.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the plants above, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not wait to see if symptoms appear, because in some cases of poisoning, by the time symptoms appear it is too late to save the animal.

How Do Fish Float?

How do fish float?

Fish can provide countless hours of entertainment and relaxation for their owners just by doing something that comes very naturally to them: swimming.

They live in a three-dimensional environment that requires them to move not just forward, backward and side to side, but up and down as well. But how are they actually able to do this?

For an object to float in water, it requires air or anything lighter than water. Fish are able to float because they have an air-filled space in their body-called a swim bladder-that makes them lighter than water. However, a fish doesn’t always want to be at the top of the water, so for this reason, fish need to be able to control their swim bladder. If the fish wants to go deeper, it releases gas. If it wants to float higher, it takes more gas into the swim bladder.

There are two main types of swim bladders, while some fish, like tuna, have no swim bladder at all. That means these fish can’t float; they always swim near the bottom. The two main types are:

  • Fish that have a connection from their esophagus to the swim bladder-they swallow air to inflate their swim bladders
  • Fish with an extensive system of tiny blood vessels in the walls of the swim bladder-the vessels regulate the amount of gas within the swim bladder

Some fish, like pet goldfish, may have trouble regulating their swim bladders. They are part of the first type, whose esophagus is connected to their swim bladder. Due to human feeding techniques, it is common for their esophagus to become clogged. We feed them dry foods that expand as they get wet, which can block the duct when swallowed by the fish. When they can’t inflate or deflate their swim bladder, it will cause them to become stuck and unable to swim to the top or bottom. While there are other reasons that a fish might float, like viruses, bacteria or diet, a clogged esophagus is the most common and is easily preventable.

There are three key things you do that will help prevent your fish from having trouble floating due to a swim bladder problem:

  • Keep the tank’s water at a high quality
  • Pre-soak food
  • Change to a gel-based food

These tips will also help your fish stay healthier overall.

How to Interpret Your Dog’s Body Language

Interpreting a dog's body language.

Dog behavior and body language can sometimes be a bit of a head-scratcher. Being unsure about whether or not your dog is happy, sad, scared, or angry can lead to confusion and panic.

It is important to be able to decipher what your dog is trying to tell you with his or her facial cues and mannerisms. It can help create a better dog/human bond!

A helpful way to think about positive behavior in your dog is to look at how they stand and the way their muscles are working. A dog that is relaxed and comfortable with the surroundings will be calm and at ease, the muscles will not tense up and they will have a general serene disposition to their appearance.

A happy dog may playfully wag their tail and have their tongue out a bit to indicate playfulness, and be standing with their legs loosely apart and the head held high.

Conversely, a frightened or angry dog can take on an entirely different stance and it is important to note specific features. Ears back, a crouched position, a raised tail with a stiff stance are signs that your dog may be becoming agitated or scared. Furthermore, a wagging tail does not always mean happiness.

A dog with a lowered body and ears bent back with a slowly wagging tail could indicate fear which may turn into aggression as a means to protect himself.

All dogs are created differently, but their behaviors are pretty universal. Dogs respond differently to stimuli and it is important to understand your dog and be aware of how you can make him or her the most comfortable in any environment.

Dental Disease in Cats: What You Should Know

 

Dental Disease in Cats: What You Should Know

Dental disease and dental related complications affect approximately 85% of cats that are ages three and older. It is important to be mindful of your cat’s oral health as it plays a key role in their overall health. Healthy teeth for a healthier body!

Plaque and tartar are the primary causes of dental problems, as once these begin to form, cats become more susceptible to a host of problems such as periodontal disease. Plaque and tartar can be caused by diet, chemistry of the mouth and teeth, and even a lack of brushing. Yes, you can brush your cat’s teeth!

It is important to have your cat’s teeth examined at least once a year during their normal exam. If your cat has had problems with their teeth, more frequent exams are encouraged. Your vet will check for three of the main signs of dental disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and stomatitis. While gingivitis is the most common, it can be maintained with routine brushing and cleanings. If periodontitis sets in, tooth extractions usually occur as the gums become too inflamed and infected to house healthy teeth. Stomatitis is very severe and can be life-threatening as is causes inflammation in the entire oral cavity which can make eating and drinking difficult.

With routine brushings and dental check-ups, your cat’s oral health can be maintained and he or she will have many happy years with healthy teeth!

Do You Know Your Budgie Sounds?

Budgies and their sounds.

Budgies, also known as parakeets, are masters of noises. Having a variety of different vocal ranges and tones, these birds can be very talkative and entertaining! Watch or play with your budgie for any length of time and you may notice how the sounds they make along with their body language can tell you a lot about how they feel.

Body language is important to understand when deciphering budgie sounds. If your bird is standing or sitting still and has a relaxed demeanor about them, they are likely very happy and really enjoying their surroundings! However, if your bird is flapping their wings or pacing they could very likely be stressed or scared. Pay attention closely, and you will notice the sounds they make will vary slightly as well.

Budgie sounds include, but are not limited to: chirps, singing, loud screeching, and even talking. Chirps and singing go hand-in-hand with contentment and some chirps may be longer than others and quiet songs usually mean your Budgie is telling you they are happy and okay. Often times, Budgies will sing songs together as a group to say their flock is happy and healthy!

Budgie sounds are not always positive, and it is important to note the differences. If parakeets are in distress or trouble of any kind they may hiss or make low “screams” that could indicate pain or stress. If you find that your bird is simply stressed, covering their cage with a towel or blanket can help them calm down. However, if you are unsure it is best to take them to the vet for a proper examination.

Helping Your Dog Fight Boredom

Helping your dog fight boredom

No dog or dog owner enjoys boredom. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior, such as chewing, digging or barking. Dogs need more than a few short walks a day or a yard to play in.

Dogs are thinking, social creatures who were bred to work alongside humans and therefore require mental stimulation.

Exercise
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, and offer some variation to your routine. Explore new neighborhoods by varying the route you usually take, or change up the pace frequently. Be sure to allow time for sniffing rather than hurrying your dog along—they learn a lot from all of those interesting smells, so giving them time to sniff can offer mental stimulation.

Work on a new trick
Mental stimulation often makes dogs as tired as physical exercise does. Working on a new trick will allow their brain to engage and work on figuring out what you’re asking. You can work on the basics with them, such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘shake’, ‘lay down’, etc. If they’ve mastered basic commands, search for new tricks online or in books. Make sure the training is positive and enforced with rewards.

Play games
There are some simple games you can play with your dog that will offer some fun and excitement. ‘Nose games’ are ones where your dog must use his nose to find the treat—this can be something like hide and seek, or ‘find it!’. You can use toys and treats you already have that have a smell your dog will recognize easily. Tug-of-war is another game that can be a physical and mental outlet for your dog.

Doggy day care
If your dog has never been to doggy day care, boy, are they in for a treat. Most doggy day care centers offer supervised play for dogs of all ages, breeds and sizes, often separated by age or energy level. The combination of mental stimulation (figuring out their place in the pack, interacting with new dogs) and physical exercise (chasing other dogs, swimming in pools, etc) is hard to beat when it comes to engaging your dog.

How to Boost Your Cat’s Social Skills

How to boost your cat's social skills.

Is your cat aloof or even antisocial? Cats, while not as social as dogs, can and do live in groups peacefully and co-exist with humans successfully. There are some steps you can take to try to entice your cat to be more social.

While it’s possible that they may never be your snuggle buddy, at the very least these steps can strengthen your bond with your cat.

The bare necessities
First of all, make sure your cat has all the basics she needs to be happy, healthy and comfortable. This means a dependable supply of fresh water, a quality nutritious food, and a clean litter box. Some toys and treats, along with a bed and a scratching post, help provide your cat with a safe and comfortable environment. With your cat’s basic needs met, she will be more relaxed and able to interact more readily.

Pair affection with food
Most likely your cat will be happiest while eating, so that’s a good time to introduce petting. Put food in the dish and while your cat is eating, gently and unobtrusively pet them. Doing this regularly will help your cat associate your petting with the positive feeling of being fed.

Playtime
If your cat is reluctant to being held, try having a playtime session. A ball or a piece of string, some catnip or some treats, whatever your cat enjoys playing with—try getting on the floor with them and engaging them in some fun play. Playing together is a form of physical bonding that can lead to a more affectionate cat.

Body language
Cats have a complex system of communication using body language. You can use this system to your advantage by incorporating the slow eye blink. Blinking is a very powerful reassurance signal and is commonly used between cats. If a cat slow blinks at you, it’s a good sign. It means “We’re friends, and I feel comfortable”. Directing a slow blink back to our cat is a sign of love. Try it—eventually your cat may even come over and jump in your lap, giving you an open invitation to pet her.

Be patient
Transforming a reclusive cat into a cuddly lap-sitting cat will take time and patience. Don’t try to hurry the process—allow your cat to set the pace to ensure they are comfortable.

Hamster Diet Tips

Hamster diet tips

If you have a hamster, you’re probably well aware that they love to eat! Just like humans, hamsters need to eat a variety of nutritious food to be healthy and happy.

When to feed them?
There are differing opinions on this, but the choices are either morning or evening. Evening feedings coincide with their nocturnal activity, and morning feedings accommodate their tendency to wake sporadically for short periods throughout the day and snack on available food. You can do whatever works best for your schedule.

What to feed them, and how much?

Any basic diet for a hamster should include:

  • Hard, gnawing-type food such as pellets

Pellets are a food where the ingredients are ground up, mixed, and formed into little pieces. The requirement to gnaw on pellets and the balanced nutrition of pellets make them a suitable part of your pet’s diet. A commercial food that includes all of the nutrients your hamster needs is a convenient, easy way to keep them healthy. About one tablespoon of pellets or seed mix once a day, supplemented by treats, is sufficient for both dwarf and Syrian hamsters. Just because your hamster’s food bowl is empty, don’t assume it needs refilling. Although hamsters are high-energy animals with speedy metabolisms, they can still become overweight quickly by overeating.

  • Some seed and grain

Seed-and-grain mixes are a good supplement to pellets. The biggest concern with these mixes is an overabundance of sunflower seeds. Hamsters love sunflower seeds, but the fatty oils in them can lead to obesity if your hamster consumes too many.

  • Some fresh foods

Feeding fresh foods can be a nice change and a treat for your hamster. Choose treats that provide additional nutrition to their regular diet such as fresh vegetables and fruits. Offer fresh foods only two or three times a week, one or two small pieces at a time. A small amount of greens plus a floret of cauliflower, a slice of apple, or several raisins (or an equivalent amount of other appropriate treats) once a day is plenty. Pesticides are very dangerous to hamsters, so completely wash any fresh food you give them. Also, do not leave fresh food lying around the cage or it will rot. Check your hamster’s food storage regularly and remove any fresh food stored there before it spoils.

Healthy Diet = Happy Hamster
Diet can be a major contributing factor in their dispositions towards you and other hamsters. If you make sure your hamster has love and care including a properly balanced diet, they’ll be happy, healthy and lovable.

How to Have a Happy and Safe Holiday with Your Pet

Holiday safety for pets

Planning to share the joy of the holiday season with your furry friend? It can be an exciting time for all, but there are a few pet holiday hazards to keep in mind.

Holiday food: Your pup would love a table scrap or two, but holiday food is too fatty and spicy and may affect his diet. Turkey bones pose an even bigger hazard as they can splinter. Skip the holiday meal and give him a special dog treat instead.

Christmas tree: A decorated tree can be an irresistible temptation for pets, especially cats. Hanging tinsel, ball-like globes and wrapped packages may seem pounce-worthy, not to mention the tree itself. Keep the tree as secure as you can, with items out of reach and beware of harmful preservatives in the tree water. Also, avoid keeping gifts with ribbons or wrapped food items under the tree.

Poinsettias & holiday plants: Holiday plants add festive décor, but they can be toxic. Avoid mistletoe, holly and other holiday plants or better yet, use artificial varieties.

Holiday gifts and decorations: Although pretty, ribbon, garland and tinsel should be avoided as decorations on gifts or in the home. They’re too tempting and can cause intestinal blockages if swallowed by your pet.

Holiday candles and lighting: Don’t underestimate the dangers of lit menorahs and holiday candles. Fires are caused every year by pets knocking over lit candles. Secure all electrical cords as well.

Holiday stress: While it’s the season to visit with family and friends, guests and noisy holiday celebrations can also stress your pet. Give him a quiet room or area where he can retreat, get food or water and stay away from the activity.

We are here to help! Visit your Pet Supermarket store for all your pet care needs.

Why You Should Give Your Cat Treats

Why give your cat treats

Playing with your feline friend and petting her are great ways to show your affection. Another way to share your love is by giving her treats – nutritious treats.

There’s no doubt you feed your cat a well-balanced diet, so you may be wondering why you should add treats as well. Read on for a few reasons why it may help.

Change Things Up
Everyone likes variety in their diet, even cats. Giving your furry friend a treat of a different flavor will change things up and can add a little excitement to the menu.

Keep Teeth Clean
Dental hygiene is as important for cats as it is for dogs, but brushing a cat’s teeth is a greater challenge. Instead of using a toothbrush, give your cat a treat to keep her teeth clean. Dental treats especially offer a firm surface that can help remove tartar and plaque.

Great for Training
Are you trying to teach your cat not to claw on the furniture or not to jump up on the countertops? If so, treats are great tools for positive reinforcement.

Reduce Stress
Has your cat suffered from an illness or an injury? Treats may help in this situation as well. Cats are often reluctant to eat after they’ve been sick or have been injured. Offer her soft, easy-to-chew treats that are packed with flavor and she’ll be more inclined to eat, which will help get her back on her regular diet.

Treats can be beneficial for you cat. Just be mindful of how many treats you give her, as too many can lead to a portly kitty!

Visit your Pet Supermarket store for all you cat care needs.

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