Home & Family
Life with Pets
5/30/2018 10:52:24 PM

Americans love their pets! Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners’ Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. Cats and dogs are the most popular, and there are around the same number of cats and dogs owned as pets – 95.6 million cats compared to 89.7 dogs. But dogs are slightly more expensive -- it costs approximately $1,641 per year to care for a dog; $1,125 for a cat.

In this month’s cover story, we celebrate the animals we love. Read on to find tips on pet safety, adoption, grooming, training, and more.

Choosing a Pet That’s Right for You
by Sylvia Ney

Veterinarians, animal organizations, and current owners agree that pet adoption is a serious undertaking which requires a little homework. If you’re considering adopting a pet, first take note of these important questions and considerations.

What type of pet is best for you? A pet’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility should all figure into your decision. Unless you live alone, this is something everyone in your household should agree upon.

How much will a pet cost? Food, toys, and vet visits all cost money. Consider finances when making your decision.

Take time with your decision to adopt a pet. Depending on the animal’s age, once you adopt a pet, you will likely have the pet for many years. Visit the animal shelter, breeder, or vet clinic several times before making a final decision. Learn about various pets, breeds, and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.

What is the animal’s true behavior? A shelter is a stressful place for any animal. Cats, dogs, birds, and other creatures who might usually be quite social and docile may instead be frightened or overly passive or aggressive in this environment. Quite often, an animal’s true personality won’t shine through until he’s away from this environment. Inquire about trial field trips or consider temporary fostering with an animal before adopting.

How much time are you willing to commit to a pet? Puppies and kittens require much more time for training and supervision than mature pets. Some dog breeds need to be more active than others. If you lack time or patience, choose an adult pet, or a tank or caged animal (fish, turtles, lizards, hamsters, birds, etc.) that requires less time and energy on your part.

Do you want a purebred or mixed breed pet? If you want a dog, mixed breeds offer some advantages over purebreds. Combined traits of two or more breeds can offer the benefit of fewer genetic defects common in certain purebreds. If you prefer the purebred for show or breeding purposes, be aware this may result in more vet visits or health issues as they age. Purebreds, of course, also cost more to purchase.

Make preparations before you bring your pet home. Once you have decided to adopt, schedule a vet visit before you bring your pet home. You want to be aware of any possible issues before everyone involved is settled. Also, before your pet’s homecoming, purchase anything you’ll need to care for the pet -- food, litter, a bed, a kennel, toys, cages, tanks, a collar and leash, and treats, for examples. Ensure your home is ready not only with supplies, but for safety, as well -- a fenced yard, uncluttered floors to prevent entanglement, and all poisonous materials out of reach.

Give your pet plenty of time to acclimate. You are likely considering pet adoption for companionship. Allow the pet to form a relationship with you on his own time. Do not expect instant devotion. You are a stranger bringing them into a new environment. Some animals will feel overwhelmed and try to escape, hide, or bite. Allow the animal time to explore their new surroundings.

For additional concerns, keep the phone number of a nearby 24-hour veterinarian or animal clinic handy.

Keep your Pet Safe this Summer

Summer often means more fresh air and sunshine for both you and your pet. But outdoor activities this time of year pose unique dangers to your pet. Be aware of these threats and protect your fur babies throughout the season.

Heat stroke and dehydration. Be sure your pet has plenty of water, especially when outdoors. Watch for signs of overheating -- excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, stupor, or collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, and an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. Elderly or overweight pets, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible, especially during the hottest hours of the day. 

Never leave animals alone in a parked vehicle. On a typical Louisiana summer day, the temperature in a car can climb to a lethal 120 degrees within 30 minutes! 

Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. 

Fleas and ticks are more prevalent in summer months, as are hookworms and heartworms. Check with your vet for pet-safe repellents and proper treatment.

Water hazards. Surprisingly, not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and have them wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse dogs off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from fur and try to keep them from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals. When in or near ocean or rivers, beware of currents and riptides.

Hot sidewalks and asphalt. Being close to the ground, your dog’s body can heat up quickly and sensitive paw pads can burn. Walk during the cooler times of day or on cooler surfaces like grass.

Commonly used poisons. Rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides and plant foods can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products, and insect coils of out pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Human food hazards. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression, and comas. Similarly, remember that snacks enjoyed by humans should not be treats for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Ignore the temptation to share your food with your pet. Especially avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and products with the sweetener xylitol. Also keep your pet away from both hot or cold charcoal briquettes.

Beware of certain plants that can be toxic to animals. For example, if ingested, azaleas can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart problems in dogs and cats. Lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. 

Fireworks. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma, and even unused fireworks can contain hazardous materials. If your pet does get burned, apply pure aloe vera twice daily. Many pets are also fearful of loud noises and can become lost, scared, or disoriented, so protect your pets from the noise in a quiet, sheltered, escape-proof area of your home. 

Sun exposure. Did you know there are sun screens for pets? Yes, they need to be protected, too, in areas where there is little or no fur, such as bellies and around ears. Use products specifically formulated for pets.

Good Dog! Tips for successful dog training
by Angie Kay Dilmore

Britney Pitre, owner of Bon Chiens Dog Training, believes there is no such thing as a bad dog; only dogs and their owners who need positive training. She is one of only four certified professional dog trainers in Southwest Louisiana, and one of only 14 in the state. She offers private training within the comfort of her clients’ homes and private training in her Lake Charles facility as well as a wide variety of group training classes. Her motto is "Train Without Pain.”

Pitre specializes in a blended approach which trains both the dog and the dog owner. "My job as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer is to ensure that pet parents (owners) understand dog development, how their brains work, how to interpret their body language correctly (for example, yawning often means that a dog is stressed -- not tired), and how to properly "discipline” a dog so that the dog and family can live a happy, healthy, and harmonious life with one another.”

Here are Bon Chiens’ five rules for dog training success:

Have realistic expectations. Your dog is not a human, and we are not magicians. Learning and development take time, patience, and understanding. There are no quick fixes in life that do not backfire, and it is no different in the world of dog training.

Set your dog up for success. Encourage positive behavior by controlling the environment so that the dog cannot make a mistake. If your pet likes to bolt out the door when you open it, put him on a leash, behind a barrier, or in a crate before you open your door so that you do not allow the dog to make the mistake of running out the door. Then work to teach your dog dependable communication to ensure that behavior ceases.

Provide daily enrichment. Dogs are social animals that would forage if in the wild. To ensure your dog’s needs are being met, simulate enriching situations for them. For example, nix dog food bowls and feed your pet in more enriching ways that simulate his foraging nature: scatter feeding, provide puzzle toys, and/or training sessions for food are all easy ways to offer your dog enrichment. With daily enrichment, a dog feels less stressed, bored, and anxious, which decreases destructive behaviors.

Nothing in life is free. Ask your dog to display a cue (command) before receiving a reward. Before your dog gets food, a toy, goes outside/inside, has leash put on/taken off, lies on furniture, etc. ask the dog to sit, lie down, give eye contact, or other command before the dog can have the reward.

Don’t hit your dog. Using physical punishment can work, but not without negative consequences. If you use methods or tools that inflict pain or fear into an animal, the chances of that animal becoming fearful, aggressive, or completely shut down is far higher than if you use methods that do not employ pain or fear. This does not mean you cannot use "punishment.” For example, if your dog is displaying undesirable behavior, turn away and ignore him or leave the room. You can change a dog’s behavior without dominating, shocking, pinching, hitting, biting (yes, some "trainers” advise biting dogs), striking, alpha rolling . . . you just need to equip yourself with the proper knowledge first.

Pitre offers dog training in Southwest Louisiana, Central Louisiana., and Southeast, Tx. For more information, call 337-422-4703 or see the Bon Chiens website, bonschiens.com.

Hobo Hotel for Cats
by Angie Kay Dilmore

June is National Adopt a Cat Month and here in Lake Charles, a great place to do that is at Hobo Hotel for Cats. This non-profit organization houses approximately 70 cats and kittens, most who are awaiting forever homes.

Hobo Hotel started out in 1999 with just a few folks who loved cats and strived to give them a home in a Jetstream travel trailer. From these humble beginnings, the shelter is now located in a dedicated building at 650 E. School Street.

Hobo Hotel is different from some other animal shelters in that they do not euthanize animals if the cats are not adopted or if the facility becomes too full. Consequently, this no-kill shelter often must turn cats away if they are at max capacity. "Our priorities are strays and abandoned cats,” says assistant director Debbie Watts. "We don’t take feral cats or pets.” 

Hobo Hotel has a team of dedicated foster parents who help with the overflow of cats and especially with very young kittens who need a great deal of care. Hobo Hotel also has satellite adoption centers at Petco and PetSmart in Lake Charles, and Petsense in Sulphur.

Veterinarian Dr. Joe Stark has been an active supporter of Hobo Hotel from the program’s inception. He does the spaying and neutering, vaccinations, and other routine care to get the cats ready for adoption. "We couldn’t do what we do without him,” says director Diana Andersen.

Watts says they process around 20-25 cat adoptions each month. The cost to adopt a cat from Hobo Hotel is $100, which includes a trip next door to Dr. Stark for spaying/neutering, microchipping, vaccinations, disease testing, deworming and flea treatment.

Hobo Hotel could not serve the community as they do without the help of a passel of volunteers. These cat enthusiasts help with fundraising events, clean and maintain the cat kennels at the pet stores, and volunteer to foster cats. Some cat lovers can’t have a cat at home for various reasons, so they get their feline fix at Hobo Hotel by giving special attention to the cats who live there. "We have volunteers who drop in on their own schedule to give the cats TLC,” says Watts. "Some people stop in for 5-10 minutes on their lunch hour. They pet the cats, brush them, play with them; it helps keep the cats social, active, and stimulated.” Approximately 20 permanent residents live at the center. These are cats who have a low chance of being adopted, either due to disease, old age, or socialization issues.

How else can community members help the Hobo Hotel? Andersen encourages the community to attend the organization’s many fundraisers throughout the year. They accept donations of cash, as well as needed supplies such as cleaning products, litter, and cat food. Interested persons can become a member of the organization – there are varying levels of membership, starting at $50 for an individual membership.

People can also help by spaying and neutering their pets. "That’s the number one thing people can do to help,” says Andersen. "We’d love to be out of business, but it’s not going to happen.”

For more information, call their message service at 337-439-2428, see their website, www.hobohotelforcats.com, or find them on Facebook.

Homemade Dog Treats
by Sylvia Ney

Making your own dog snacks can be a fun and rewarding experience. It might also be the safest way to control ingredients in your pet’s diet. Whether you’re looking to try something new, wanting to save money on treats, or hoping to alleviate your dog’s allergies, you may want to try one of these three easy recipes.


2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled – or store-bought bacon bits to save time.
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix well.
  3. Knead dough into ball and roll onto a floured surface 1/4 inch thick. Cut with a cookie cutter of your choice.
  4. Place on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese starts to bubble.
  5. Cool and refrigerate.
Makes 2 to 3 dozen biscuits


2 cups of flour
1/2 cup peanut butter
 2 eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ingredients together until combined.
  3. Add water until it becomes wet enough to roll out as dough about ¼ inch thick. 
  4. Cut with the cookie cutter of your choice.
  5. Place on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.


You’ll need:
Ice Cube Tray(s)
Cutting Knife

2 apples
1 cup nonfat, plain yogurt

  1. Slice the apples to bite size or puree
  2. Roll in yogurt
  3. Add small amount of water to each section of ice cube tray (about 1/3 full).
  4. Add small scoop of apple and yogurt mixture to each compartment before filling the remaining space with more water
  5. Freeze for several hours before offering your pet this cool treat.

Your dog may enjoy these treats, however, do not rule out the possibility of particular food intolerances. Always watch your pet for reactions. These treats are intended for special occasions and as an addition to your dog’s regular diet. They should not replace regular dog food. Ask the advice of your veterinarian before feeding your dog any homemade creations.

Pampering the Pooch: Trends in Dog Grooming
by Angie Kay Dilmore

An estimated $6.11 billion was spent in the U.S. on pet services such as grooming in 2017. These days, pet owners expect more than a shave and a haircut when they take their pet to their local groomer. Groomers take extra measures to pamper their clients with modern day pet salon amenities. The next time you take your pet to the groomer, ask about these latest trends to pamper your pooch.
Teddy bear cuts are currently all the rage at Adore Pet Spa, says Katie Lea, a groomer with 13 years experience. "People like it because it is cute and makes the dog look like a little stuffed animal.” Puppy cuts are popular, too. They also offer rhinestones and glitter accents. 

Geometrical grooming is most effective for dogs that have voluminous hair or fur that is wiry or frizzy. You can ask your dog groomer to cut and shape the hair on your dog’s head and around his face into a specific geometric shape. The most common shapes requested right now are cubes and spheres. Lea says poodles and bichons are good candidates for these cuts. "Every dog is different and not all dogs look good with every cut.”

Creative dye jobs and stenciling use non-toxic, dog-friendly hair dye and paint. You can choose to just dye one section of your dog’s hair or cover his entire body in a complex design of colors and shapes. You can even use dye and stencils to give your dog the appearance of a completely different animal, such as a tiger or cheetah. Most dog hair dye and paint is semi-permanent, and will wash out in five to six washes. Adore Pet Spa uses all-natural vegan-friendly Opawz hair dyes as well as chalk coloring, which washes out more quickly. 

If you really want to indulge your dog, ask your groomer about doggy nail art. "Pawdicures” have become an increasingly common grooming service among dog owners who really want their dogs to stand out from the crowd. Your groomer can apply safe, dog-friendly nail polish to your dog’s nails after clipping and buffing them. Some groomers offer nail jewels or nail art for your dog.

Natural grooming products feature familiar ingredients that humans might find in their own self-care products – herbal shampoo, aromatherapy conditioner, probiotic supplements, and cleansing wipes. Ingredients in these new products include essential oils, botanicals, and other natural components. Adore Pet Spa uses an all natural flea shampoo and all their products are pesticide-free.
Adore also offers a unique process called Thera-Clean for grooming. It’s a micro-bubble spa bath that cleans a pet thoroughly from the pore out. Only water is used in the system so it is very gentle to the skin. The process is especially good for treating mange, yeast and staph infections, hair loss, and dogs with strong odors. "We are the only spa in a 100-mile radius that offers this service,” says Lea. 

Mobile Pet Grooming is another growing trend. Like everyone, pet owners are busy. It’s a time saver to have the groomer come to the home. It is also convenient when the dog is anxious or afraid to travel, aggressive around other pets at grooming facilities, or has limited mobility. 

Adore Pet Spa has plans to offer a pet-taxi grooming service. They will pick the pet up at your home and take the pet to the spa for grooming. Lea says this is a safer option in case of an accident or medical emergency. Lucy Barberena Vega, office manager at Adore Pet Spa, says they care not only about making a pet beautiful, but also about keeping an animal comfortable and safe.
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