Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘pets’ tag

February 20th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

It’s National Love Your Pet Day!



Today is National Love Your Pet Day, which seems kind of odd because we love our pets EVERY day, but it’s definitely nice to designate a day to really celebrate how much they mean to you. Whether you’ve got a dog, cat, rodent, reptile, fish or any other type of pet, give them some extra TLC today. Spend more time than you usually do with them…either playing with them or just holding, cuddling or petting them. Extra treats won’t hurt either! In our busy day-to-day lives we don’t always have time to give them, so make today great for both of you! What will you do with your pet?

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July 10th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Pet Adoption Basics


Adopting a pet can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Not only are you giving an animal a loving home, but you’re also accepting a significant responsibility and a whole lot of unconditional love! There are a lot of things to consider before moving ahead. Being a responsible pet owner is important, so first, ask yourself these questions:

1)   Do I have enough money for a pet?

2)   Do I have enough time for a pet?

3)   Do I have enough room for a pet?

4)   Am I ready for the responsibility?

There are so many different types of pets, the key is finding which one is right for you. It is best to research the pet you have in mind to make sure it’s a good choice. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for the adoption:

Research More

  • Research the adoption facility. Make sure it is reputable.
  • Ask friends and family who have adopted to give you recommendations.

Buy the Essentials

  • Before you bring the animal home find out what you will need to care for them.
  • You will need food, bowls, treats and a few good books on caring for your pet.
  • For cats you’ll need a litter box, litter and possibly a scratching post.
  • For dogs you’ll need a collar, a leash, and a tag.

Choose a Good Veterinarian and Make an Appointment

  • A newly adopted pet should always be seen by a veterinarian within the first few days. This is to ensure that the animal is in good health and up to date on vaccinations.
  • For young pets, you should discuss neuter/spay options with the doctor.
  • Like humans, pets should see a doctor at least annually.

Have you adopted a pet lately? Tell us about it.

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June 5th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Cat Care


June is Adopt a Cat Month.  There are many reasons why cats make great pets: they’re easy to take care of, easy to transport, and can be just as playful and affectionate as a dog.  While I love all animals and have lived with them my entire life, I have never had a more loving and fun pet than my 10-month old kitten, Comet, who we adopted from a shelter at Christmastime. But just because cats are easy to care for doesn’t mean they don’t require any of your time and attention!  If you think that a cat or a kitten might be the perfect pet for you and your family, consider whether you can provide the following care:

  • Feed your cat a balanced diet.  I feed Comet twice a day with healthy wet and dry food, like Blue, Merrick, and Tiki Cat.  Of course, as with a human child, they’re entitled to a treat every now and then and I’ve never met a cat that resisted Temptations!  Also be sure your cat ALWAYS has fresh water to drink.
  • Provide a litter box and keep it clean.  I’ve never had to “potty-train” a cat; I just showed them where the box was and they knew to use it.  Most will not use a dirty one, so be sure to clean it out as often as possible.
  • Buy a collar and an ID tag with your contact information.  Even indoor cats should wear a collar at all times.  Make sure it has a breakaway buckle, like this one from Petco, for your cat’s safety.
  • Groom your cat regularly.  Brush your cat regularly for a healthy coat and minimal shedding.  Make sure you also have nail clippers and styptic powder to trim their claws. A scratching post will also help trim them down.
  • Annual trips to the vet are a must.  Keep your kitty up-to-date on shots and vaccinations.  Have him or her spayed or neutered if this hasn’t already been done.

Finally, even though cats are known for their independence, they still crave human love.  Provide him with catnip and toys to keep him stimulated, but remember that his favorite toy is you!  These guidelines for cat ownership will help ensure that you have a happy kitty and that your family will have a loyal friend for years!

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January 24th, 2013 at 11:01 am

Introducing Baby to the Family Pet


Most of us with pets consider them to be a part of the family… sometimes even our first “babies” (or “fur babies”). It’s quite an adjustment for them when we suddenly have another little bundle that takes up a lot of our time, energy, and affection. Having babies and pets living under the same roof requires some planning, both before you deliver and when you first bring your newborn home. Here are some tips for making sure you all become one big happy family!

Before Delivery:

Research the hazards

Diseases can be transferred from your pet to you, and from you to your unborn baby. You may have heard of the dangers of the cat’s litter box. If you are pregnant and cannot have someone else change the litter, wear rubber gloves.

Prepare your pet

  • If your pet has any obedience or training issues, now’s the time to address them. Consider a training class at your local pet store or do some training research to handle it yourself. Be consistent and firm and keep treats on hand! Doing so will ensure your pet will listen to you when your baby is home.
  • Make sure you keep their coats washed and nails trimmed to avoid scratching and shedding issues.
  • Schedule a vet visit before your due date to make sure they are up to date on vaccinations.
  • Familiarize your pet with the smells and sounds of a baby with baby powder and audio of babies crying (you’d be surprised how animals react to new sounds and smells!).

After Delivery:

  • Have a family member bring home a blanket or item of clothing the baby has been wrapped in, and let your pet smell it. Some pets will enjoy sleeping with it once they are familiar with it.
  • When you come home from the hospital, your pet will likely be excited to see you. Let someone else hold the baby in another room while you greet your pet calmly and show it love. Once they are calm and collected, bring the baby in and carefully let them see and smell him or her. Give them treats for good behavior around the baby.
  • Always supervise interactions between your child and your pets. While you may be convinced your pet would never hurt them, it’s important to remember that they sometimes don’t know their own strength or roughness.
  • Try to stick to your pets’ routines as best as you can. It may be difficult so enlist your family members to help if necessary. Remember to give them lots of love and affection and involve them in your new baby’s life.
  • Sometimes it’s best to wait to introduce your new baby to your pet. Birds, reptiles, rodents and some other caged animals require different care than a cat or dog. Keep them separate until your child is old enough to understand the proper way to hold and care for them.

Did you have any problems introducing your bundle of joy to your pets? Share some of your own tips and tricks!

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January 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 am

Winter Pet Safety Tips


Winter has just begun and temperatures will continue to drop for a little while.  It’s easy enough for us to survive the harsh season, but make sure you also protect your pet from the colder weather!  Here are a few essential safety tips for your furry friend:

  • Never EVER leave your pet alone in the car. You probably already know that summer can turn your car into an oven. Well, winter can turn your car into a refrigerator and be just as deadly to your animal. Also be sure to clean up any antifreeze spills from your car, as antifreeze is a highly poisonous chemical for dogs and cats.
  • Bring your animal inside during the colder months and make sure they have a warm place to sleep, such as a blanket that’s away from drafts.  If you live in an area with many outdoor cats, provide a warm shelter for them that’s lined with old blankets and regularly check the bedding to make sure it’s still dry.
  • Be sure to wipe your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in from the snow.  Otherwise, he could be ingesting salt or other dangerous substances while licking his paws.
  • Consider outfitting your short-haired pet in a coat or sweater for when they do need to go outside. Some of you may think it silly to put clothes on animals, but your little critter may thank you for it! has some adorable options!
  • Make sure your pet is wearing his ID tags at all times!  More pets are lost during the winter than any other season, so make sure your pet can be easily identified so he can be returned home more quickly.

Pets are our family, so do everything you can to protect them this season!  How do you prepare your critters for the winter?

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November 28th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Homemade Dog Treats


For many of us, our pets are like furry children. We often let them sleep in our beds, get away with being naughty and spoil them rotten. We also want to make sure they’re healthy and happy, so feeding them delicious and nutritious foods is important. Frequent pet treat/food recalls and common unhealthy ingredients like BHA and BHT make it difficult to find good treats. Making your own from scratch will ensure that your pup is eating safe, healthy foods that they’ll love! Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

 Bacon & Cheddar Dog Treats

 Peanut Butter & Honey Dog Treats

 Apple-Cheddar Dog Biscuits

Have you ever made homemade treats for YOUR pets?

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October 23rd, 2012 at 5:00 am

Pet Costumes for Halloween


We have written about Halloween quite a bit over the past few weeks. We have talked about games, parties, apps, costumes, even making a costume out of a Garanimals outfit your son or daughter can wear all season. Halloween would never be complete in our Garanimals community without including the option for your pets!

Here are a few of our favorites:

Every family thinks they have a Superdog, why not have them dress the part?

Is your pooch a little on the devilish side? Let his true colors shine through with this costume.

How about this pirate costume? We are still wondering how they got that dog to sit still for the eye patch!

This one is simply hysterical. We would imagine the cheerleader is dating the quarterback.

Do you dress up your pets for Halloween?

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July 18th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Exercising with Pets

We’ve all read about the obesity epidemic here in the US, and how it affects not only humans, but animals as well.

The good news is that pet ownership can be a great tool for losing weight and improving your health. Pets make great exercise pals: they’re always available on your schedule, hardly ever complain, and are willing to listen to your problems—a free therapist and fitness guru all rolled into one.

The most obvious and easiest pet-related exercise is walking your dog. One 30-minute walk a day or two 15-minute walks will get you both on the path toward a healthier lifestyle. It may take a little time to develop the habit in a sedentary animal. Choose a comfortable time of day for both of you, and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Don’t have a dog, or live in a building that doesn’t allow pets? No problem. Check out programs like Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound, a non-profit organization that pairs homeless dogs with willing walkers.

Lots of exercise facilities are providing classes for pets and their humans, like Doga (yep, that’s dog + yoga = Doga). Check with your local vet or gym for pet-related exercise programs. The ASPCA offers these great kid/pet activities divided into age groups.

Dogs aren’t the only pets that are leash-friendly. Your local pet shop can outfit you with the right kind of harness to walk your rabbit, ferret, or iguana.

Any cat lovers out there? I thought this idea was great: attach a laser light or a string with a pompom to you while you do step aerobics or similar exercise at home to get your kitty moving, too. Our cats can’t resist the laser pen.

This Arthritis Today article encourages cat owners to observe emulate cat stretches to improve health and flexibility. How often do you stretch compared to your cat?

Catch and Frisbee are great games to get both you and your animal more active. Or set up a bubble machine and see who can pop the most bubbles—your pet, your kids, or you. Here are a few more exercises designed to do with your pet.

Things to remember when exercising with animals:

  • Be very careful to keep all animals away from mechanized exercise equipment, such as treadmills.
  • When out for a walk or run, keep your pet on a short leash.
  • Avoid blacktop and concrete on hot days, which can burn your pet’s paws.
  • Don’t forget to provide water for your pet, as well as yourself.
  • Watch for signs of over-exertion. Start slowly and build endurance.
  • Be extremely careful when biking or blading with your dog. A Springer or Walkydog device attached to your bike can make cycling a much safer activity for both of you.

Exercising with your pet is fun and beneficial for both of you. Make a play date today.

Related Books for Kids
Having Fun with Your Dog — ASPCA Books for Kids
You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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April 25th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Visiting the Vet, part 2

A good relationship with a veterinarian is important for any family with pets. First and foremost, they get to know your pet and your family, so their advice is specific to you. They provide a valuable check to information you may learn elsewhere (especially from the Internet). In part 1, we learned about the first vet visit. Here are a few more words of wisdom from the wonderful staff of Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital.

Exotic Animal Care

Exotic animals need special care and if you own animals other than cats or dogs, make sure your vet provides that kind of care. Exotic pets include reptiles and amphibians, small mammals (pocket pets), birds, aquatic animals, even rabbits.

Believe it or not, some vets see fish. Imported fish may need to be seen by a vet right away for health certification. Most fish, however, only need vet care when there are signs of trouble. Keeping an aquarium can be very expensive, so maintaining a healthy system is vital to protect both the animals and your investment.

Emergency Pet Care

Not all vets provide 24-hour care. Be sure to ask for an emergency number, and if your vet does not have one, ask for a recommendation for a local clinic or animal hospital. Emergency services are usually very expensive so, just as with people, preventative care is more economical than emergency care.


In addition to distemper and rabies vaccines (required for cats, dogs, and ferrets) your veterinarian may recommend:

  • Leptospirosis Vaccination — for Leptospirosis, an extremely contagious bacterial disease that spreads through contact with urine from infected wildlife; often recommended for animals who spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • Bordetella Vaccination — for infectious canine tracheobronchitis (kennel cough), an extremely contagious respiratory infection; often recommended if you plan to board your dog.
  • Lyme Disease Vaccination — Lyme disease is spread by ticks, and if you live in a high-risk area, your vet may recommend this vaccine as part of a strategy to protect your pets (and family).

Spaying and Neutering

Unless you plan to breed, most veterinarians recommend neutering (males) or spaying (females). Spaying and neutering prevents unwanted pregnancies, can improve behavior, and often provides added health benefits. Vets recommend spaying/neutering for:

  • dogs and cats
  • rabbits
  • ferrets (almost always spayed or neutered before sale)
  • male sugar gliders
  • rats


Most veterinarians will recommend annual exams for your animals. This is important for cats and dogs, because annual monitoring catches major changes, but it’s not always practical for some exotic animals, for a variety of reasons:

  • Costs involved may not be warranted for short-lived, inexpensive pets.
  • Certain animals experience extreme stress during transport (especially fish, amphibians, and some reptiles).

Animals require different kinds and frequency of care at different stages of life: as juveniles, adults, and seniors. Be sure to learn how long your pet is likely to live before you make a commitment.

Thanks again to veterinarian Stephanie Moy, DMV, and Lamor Gatenio-Roer, office manager, both of Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital.

Photo credit: Veterinarian by Army Medicine via a Creative Commons License.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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March 21st, 2012 at 5:00 am

First Vet Visit

Dr. Stephanie Moy and Lamor Gatenio-Roer of Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital.

When you get a new pet, one of the first things you need to do is find a good veterinarian. For pets other than cats and dogs, you may need to find a vet that specializes in exotic pet care.

I had the opportunity to speak with veterinarian Stephanie Moy, DMV, and Lamor Gatenio-Roer, office manager, both of Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital, about what to expect at a first vet visit.

“We want to see you and your new pet as soon as possible,” said Dr. Moy. All pets (with the exception of fish, and some amphibians and reptiles, which can be easily stressed) should visit a vet within the first few days. “That first visit is very important,” said Lamor. “Our doctors want to make sure you have a healthy animal and that you are set up at home to care for it properly.”

“We want pet owners to establish a relationship with their veterinarian right from the start,” said Dr. Moy. “We want to know the owners and their pets, and for them to know us.”

These experts explained that the first visit is primarily about education, and they strongly recommend that you bring your children along. “When one of our staff explains to children how to care for their animal, it makes a big impression, and kids tend to take our advice to heart,” said Lamor. “It seems to mean more coming from an animal authority than it would from mom or dad.”

Bring any paperwork you have, especially vaccination records. The vet will also ask you questions about your pet’s housing and environment (indoor or outdoor, type of cage and bedding), diet (food and treats), and enrichment (such as toys, chews, and exercise equipment).

The first visit always includes a physical examination, fecal testing (for parasites, some of which can be passed to humans), and deworming. Cats, dogs, and ferrets are required by law to get rabies vaccinations, and the vet may recommend other vaccines as well, but most vets will not administer the first vaccine until deworming is complete. Vaccinations are administered one per visit to monitor for adverse reactions. This means, for cats and dogs, you can expect at least 4-6 vet visits in the first six months just to complete the series of vaccinations.

I asked Dr. Moy what one thing pet owners should do before their first visit. “Do your research, even before you buy or adopt an animals,” she said. “Learn everything you can, not just about owning a young pet, but what it will take to care for that animal throughout its life.” The Internet can be a good source of information, but make sure you are looking at reliable research, and don’t forget the library.

Developing a good relationship with your veterinarian will help ensure a healthy, happy life for your animal.

Related Picture Books

What Happens at a Vet’s Office? by Amy Hutchings
Hairy Maclary’s Rumpus at the Vet by Lynley Dodd


Dr. Stephanie Moy and Lamor Gatenio-Roer of Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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