Monday, September 27, 2010

Cold Weather Preparedness for Exotic Pets

The first day of autumn has arrived. For some of us in the Northern climates it means that frigid temperatures could be right around the corner. We can hope not, but we do need to be prepared. Cold weather preparedness is essential if you have pets, exotic pets, children, or elderly adults.

Pet owners, especially exotic pet owners need to plan ahead for such emergencies as power failure. If the power went out today, right this minute and lasted for a few days. The temperatures are extremely cold; would your pet or pets survive?

As the thermostat plunges way below zero I wonder how many people have thought about their pets if they should lose electrical power. Are you ready? Think clearly and concisely, if the electric went out right now for a few days will your pets survive?

Cold Weather Preparedness

Let’s pretend there is a widespread outage all over town. People are scrambling to other people’s houses that had the foresight to prepare for electrical outages. Your neighbor has an emergency generator you could go there, but they are allergic to animals, or just don’t like animals. What are you going to do? PREPARE yourself right now. It can and does happen.

Through my lifetime I have been through many power failures lasting 24 hours or more. Some have been in the winter caused by heavy ice storms, power problems, blizzards, and evidently power gremlins – I believe that is who causes those mysterious failures. So far this year, 2010 we have seen the electricity go out twice. Not long enough for concern but it could have meant disaster if it had been a longer outage and if we had not been prepared.

We have also been through many power failures and blackouts because our power grid in the United States is out of date and not even close to size to handle the capacity of need.

Many days it can be below 32 F, here in the north part of the United States where I live, it gets much, (even more much :) colder! I have seen it thirty below 0 F. In Northern Minnesota where I once lived one day it was 60 F below zero, and that is not figuring the wind chill factor which was 100 below 0! The governor closed down every single school in the state.

What if my electricity would have gone out that day? I lived many miles back on a forest service road, a minimum maintenance forest service road. There was too much ice on the ground to consider moving my car. When I put one finger on the side of the car it would slide sideways. There would have been no way to have gotten to safety, a place to keep my children or my animals warm.

YouTube winter safety video This is excellent advice for general cold weather safety. SEE the Video

Winterize Pets in Cold Weather video

Here we have a generator just in case we lose electricity in a power failure. We also have propane heaters. At least one propane heater is necessary in any household. In Minnesota I had electric heat but also a well ventilated wood stove. I had always kept at least four cords of wood on hand if not more.

There are many different pets that can’t handle extreme temperature changes. It will kill them.

What exotic pets can’t handle the extreme cold, just a little cold, or even too high of temperatures? Here are a few to consider, ectotherms, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles are coldblooded and cannot regulate body heat. We made the decision to have these animals as an exotic pet it is our responsibility to protect their lives in case there is a long-term power outage. Normally, we would have under tank heaters, basking lights, and full spectrum lights to make sure they get their daily vitamin D3 they so essentially need, and to keep them warm. Without this heat they won’t eat, and if they did eat they would not be able to digest their food.

How to handle a frozen iguana READ MORE -

Many of our exotic pets are warm-blooded species this is known as endotherms. Many species of endotherms cannot stand exposure to too much heat or too cold an environment. Either way many of these animals can die. Look at parrots, ferrets, and a huge number of exotic pets that will need emergency power for heat or air conditioning.

The emergency – it is -30 below zero, there is an ice storm; the ice has covered electrical and telephone lines all over town. You have no communication, no electricity, no heat, no water (it is frozen and water systems run on electricity, or you have a well and that is frozen or runs on electric), and little food since most food needs cooking. The colder it is the more calories your body requires. You have pets, perhaps children, and elderly parent, and yourselves. How will you survive?

We have several things that are essential during a power failure. I have an emergency kit put together for spring storms. This kit is located near the back basement door which is also near one of the back doors. This kit can be run down to the basement during a tornado or it can be brought out the backdoor. Or, if we have a cold weather power failure it can stay right in the house.

Each member of the family has an emergency kit. Each kit is designed to last 72 hours.

Each household member is responsible for so many pets. The kit has food for that person and the pets for which they are responsible (go for light weight), water at least a gallon a day per person and pet (determine water needs per pet, type and size of pet), change of clothing, blankets, wet wipes, flashlights, batteries, candles, lighters, pocket knife, rope, duct tape, toiletries, a whistle, don’t forget the essentials for the animals (including medical needs and information). In our family we need extra water for formula for an infant.

We also have an elderly parent living with us, as well as our daughter and her husband, a three-year old, a nine month old baby, my husband, and myself and I am 100% disabled. Even if the electric went out for an hour in extreme cold I could lose pets, exotic pets, our granddaughters, and elderly parent.

We have two forms of backup heat – one could be portable if the need should arise. One is a propane heater. We started with one – we have used it so many times we now have a few We had propane camping –like canisters for the heater but now we have the large but yet still somewhat portable 20 lb cylinder you see in front of convenience stores.

These propane heaters with the amount of propane we have on hand would last several days. Have we needed emergency heat beyond 24hours? Yes, we have been without heat up to seven days. Three months if you count the time I bought a summer country house sight unseen in Northern Minnesota and moved there in the winter. One of my oops moments. We have also lost electricity during the middle of the summer, 100 degrees and above but that can be a different story.

A second important item is a generator. Depending on the wattage it puts out it will keep you warm by powering your heat, it will keep any other appliance going that you may need. It will also keep electric medical equipment running! My article on emergency generators - everything you need to know about emergency generators.

Stay clear of Coleman generators they went bankrupt – My article on emergency power generators READ MORE Cold Weather Preparedness for Exotic Pets

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Litter Box Stench

Some of the less enjoyable aspects of having pets are litter boxes, litter box training, and the less than pleasant smell that comes with the territory. It just doesn’t matter if we’re dealing with the everyday pet or an exotic pet. The excrement and urine stinks.

One funny case in point is why does it seem that much more comes out than goes in?

The reason I decided to write this article is because of the number of questions I receive dealing with litter boxes, litter box odor, and litter box training.

One question I often see, why did my pet quit using the litter box? After questioning the person I usually find out they have grown lack in taking care of the litter box. If you had to walk in the litter box and smell the odor would you want to use it either? I wouldn’t.

I will ask how often do you scoop the litter box, change out the litter, and wash and disinfect the litter box. Some people scoop daily, some weekly, but some people will be frank in their answer and admit to monthly.

Animals can’t handle the smell anymore than you or I could. Besides, it is an illness waiting to happen along with the enormous veterinarian bills.

Don’t forget that animals commonly have more sensitive noses than we do. If I were an animal I am afraid I’d have to go find a more pleasant spot to do my duty than that nasty litter box. Could this be the reason your pet has an occasional accident or forgets to use the litter box entirely?

Could it be the location of the litter box? Most animals won’t excrete their bodily wastes where they eat or sleep. Maybe animals are even a little wiser than many humans are. I think about the stories of the pioneers and settlers. When building their camps or settlements they would build their ditches or latrines close to where they slept and ate. The result was the smell being carried through the camp and diseases such as dysentery, cholera, and tetanus, often taking their lives.

There is a lot to be said for cleanliness and disinfecting. Keep the litter box clean, disinfect regularly, and replace the litter with clean litter. I am sure your pet will go back to his old good habits and use the litter box.

Something else you may want to consider if you are not keeping the litter box clean is the little feet that walked through all that icky muck that is now walking on the floor where the baby plays or on the furniture where you sit.

Most animals want to be clean and if given the opportunity they will use the litter box. When you start out with a baby animal a little teaching is in order or, observation of your new pet’s habits. If it is a ferret does it hike up its little rear and go in a certain corner or a couple of different corners? That is where you would put a corner litter box made for animals that hike their rears and go in corners.

Other animals such as a skunk, start with a small area the exotic pet has to roam, observe where the animal wants to do his or her duty and put a litter box in that area. If there is more than one place use multiple litter boxes. Eventually as the skunk matures fewer litter boxes and the animal can have access to more space to roam.

About the only animals I have any problem with are my ferrets. They will normally use corners so supply a corner litter box made for the ferret. Sometimes they will go next to the litter box. I bought some plastic carpet runners, place squared pieces under the litter boxes and that solved that problem. I keep spray cleaner and paper towels nearby and clean up after them when we put them back in their cages for the night.

One thing I don’t like, even if you keep the litter box clean is the odor when the animal is in the process of leaving a big pile in the middle of the night. We decided to change our bedroom around which gave us a lot more room especially for my mobile on wheels legs. Except, and this is a big except, it placed my nose very close to the litter box. First night in new location, big awful, horrible odor came out of my beautiful, sweet, cute Ragdoll cat. The cat litter boxes stink!

Will, I had an odor problem with the ferrets and I started using Marshall Bi-Odor for ferrets. I just put it in their water. BIG difference!

So I decided to try the Marshall Bi-Odor for small animals. I put a few squirts in the cat’s water and I couldn’t believe the difference. NO ODOR and I’m not exaggerating in the least. I haven’t stuck my head inside the enclosed litter box to check out the up close and personal odor. But, the cat no longer wakes me in the middle of the night with that awful odor. It only makes sense to control litter box smell starting with the animal.

If you haven’t tried Marshall Bi-Odor you are really missing out. m there too! READ MORE Litter Box Stench

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Animal Planet "Confessions : Animal Hoarding"

A post in the BellaOnline Exotic Pet forum and the subsequent comments that followed is the reason for today's article. You can find the posts here and please feel free to add your comments and thoughts. Please keep it clean it is a family forum.

Animal Planet is allegedly airing a new show "Confessions: Animal Hoarding." Allegedly someone from Animal Planet or associated with animal planet posted the comment. I state allegedly because it doesn’t appear to be a professional letter that I have come to recognize as Animal Planet.

Yes, people with severe mental and emotional problems need help and it is wonderful you are offering psychological treatment. Is this treatment free of charge? I am sorry, but this doesn't belong on television sensationalizing a problem that yes needs to be addressed, but not on TV.

There will always be a few people around that don't properly take care of their children. There will be a few people who don't take care of their animals, exotic or otherwise.

I feel my job is to help educate people who have never had exotic pets before, to make sure they make an informed decision.

I am also here to bring other exotic pet people together to enjoy each others company, to share the great strides they have made in taking care of exotics, to share their joy, as well as their heartbreak.

I am not here to exaggerate the minuscule number of unfortunate accidents. But, I am here to help avoid mistakes. I can't do my job as long as the media blows anything to do with exotic pets' way out of proportion.

Has there been fatalities, yes but very few, very very few. Do some people horde exotic pets? Occasionally, you hear of this happening. Kind of like the poor little old cat women with all her cats. It's sad, but fortunately it is not something that occurs very often.

When there is one reported incident, there are thousands of joyful exotic pet owners with healthy and happy exotic pets. Why don't we see these families and their pets on TV, the internet, magazines, or newspapers?

There is only one reason, it doesn’t make the media owners any money.

I just love it when our government representatives, rant and rave about exotic pet laws, with politically active Animal Rights groups in their pockets, only to drive home to feed their pet iguana. Hypocrites. These AR groups do more to harm exotic pets than help them.

As far as many of their so-called sanctuaries, it looks like legal hording to me, but with grants and donations to support their habit.

Am I a horder? Are you? What is a horder? When the media broadcasts such a show, potentially causing changes in exotic pet laws, where is the line going to be drawn? The hording of anything belongs on a mental health channel and not shows that primarily deal with animals.

Did they see the dollar signs when the show on hoarders actually brought in an audience? Reality TV, I doubt it, it’s sad to make money off of someone else's problem. As far as I am concerned it is no different from making nasty comments about someone with a physical deformity, or mentally challenged. I thought, or at least hoped those days were long gone.

As long as there is money to be made, people will continue to hurt other people, and along with those people, our pets that we love dearly.

Animal Planet, if that post was truly from you I would like an open discussion. I have enjoyed many of your shows. However, the shows blasting exotic pet ownership, using scare tactics exploiting these rare occurrences, let's be fair and show the huge other side of the population, the pet owners with healthy and happy exotic pets. Article here - read more Animal Planet Confessions-Animal Hoarding

Comments here please."Animal Planet Confessions-Animal Hoarding"