Pets as Tax Dependents? A Look at the Money We Spend on our Pets

Today is April 17, 2012 – otherwise known as the tax deadline.  Now I’m lucky because puppies don’t have to file taxes.  But my Mommy & Daddy do.  They were on top of it
and got their taxes done early, but a lot of people I hear wait until today to file their taxes.  I’d probably wait until today too if I had to file taxes.  It doesn’t sound like fun so I would put it off as long as I could!

A lot of people think they should be able to claim their pets on their taxes as dependents.  In fact, there is a proposed tax bill that would allow people to claim their personal pets as dependents on their taxes. It’s called the “Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years” or the HAPPY Act.  This bill hasn’t gotten much support since Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter, as well as representatives from Tennessee and Colorado, introduced the bill in 2009.  HAPPY would allow deductions of up to $3,500 a year for pet expenses.  While groups still push for the passing of the Act, it doesn’t look very promising just yet.

But considering how much the average American spends on their pet, a $3,500 deduction would be a great help to all the pet parents out there.  It is estimated that over $52 billion will be spent by Americans on their pets this year.  Last year Americans spent just shy of $51 billion on their pets.  In 2011, Americans spend $19.85 billion on pet food, $11.77 billion on pet supplies and over the counter medications for their pups and kitties, and $13.41 billion on veterinary care.  In my opinion, that definitely deserves a tax break (and don’t think I’m biased because I’m a pup!)

So how much does it cost per year to be a pet parent?  Well, according to the 2011-2012 APAA National Pet Owners Survey, the average annual expenses for a dog or cat owner include:

Expense Dog Cat
Surgical Vet Visits $407 $425
Routine Vet Visits $248 $219
Food $254 $220
Kennel/Boarding $274 $166
Vitamins $95 $43
Travel Expenses $78 $48
Groomer/Grooming Tools $73 $34
Treats $70 $41
Toys $43 $21


And of course, this varies depending on the pet, pet owner, and the amount of pets in the household.  So, Maizee says give pet parents a break and let them claim us as dependents!  But nonetheless, pet parents work hard to keep us safe, healthy and happy and we greatly appreciate it!

Thanks Mom & Dad!

The Importance of Pet ID Tags

This week is National Pet ID Week.  Not only our pet ID tags stylish now, but they are so beneficial to pet safety!  My brothers and sisters and I wear one all the time.  Did you know that only 1 in 3 pets wear their tags all the time?  Most of the time pet parents take off the tags for 3 different reasons.  One, they think since their pet is never outdoors alone or without a leash, it is not needed.  Two, they get annoyed with the jingling sound the tag makes.  Or three, they think the pet is bothered by the collar and tag too much to wear it.  Well, these three reasons are not true because I live in a household with 5 dogs and 1 cat and we all wear our collars and tags proudly every day with no nuisance to us or our parents.

Research shows 80% of pet owners believe it’s important for pets to wear ID tags, but only 1 in 3 pets always wear a tag.

— Little Friends (@LittleFriends3) April 16, 2012

The ASPCA did a study on pet ID tag usage among pet owners.  They followed 109 pets in which pet ID tags were placed directly on the pets by either an adoption agency or a veterinarian.  Two months after the study began, 84% of the pets were still wearing their collars and ID tags.  The tags that were taken off were due to one of the three reasons mentioned above.

And can you believe during that 2 month period 18 pets were reported lost?  Seventeen of the pets were found and returned home.  Ten of the pets returned were able to get home because the person who found them saw their ID tag and used the information on it!  YAY!  The ID tags worked to get these kitties and puppies back home safely.

It’s important to have your kitten and puppy start wearing a collar and ID tag early on in life so they get used to having it on at all times.  We generally all adjust very quickly to wearing these and after a little while our parents don’t notice the occasional jingle from the tag!  Plus, a little noise and a few extra scratches are worth it to return your pet  home to you.

A lot of people have put a microchip in their dog or cat, which is great.  But only a center with a microchip scanner can actually read the information on the chip.  And anyone  can read an ID tag.  So for the most efficient safety measure for your pet, choose a pet ID tag.  You can get one that fits our personality perfectly at a reasonable price at your local pet store.  Happy shopping!


The Responsibilities of Animal Control: Great and Varied

Not that long ago my brother and sister Yorkies were old enough to be spayed and neutered.  Now this is not a process any dog looks forward too, but it seems to be one most of us have to at one time in our lives. It’s a small price to pay for living in such a wonderful house with loving owners though!  But I have to say – I was glad it was them and not me!!

Did you know that the local Humane Society has a spay and neuter clinic for cats and dogs?  There is one clinic housed at the local Animal Control office in Charlotte, which is where the Yorkies went.  When my Mommy took them, she learned so much about the Animal Control of Charlotte.  They do great things for animals in the city and deserve more appreciation than they get!

Most people think of just mean old dog catchers when they hear the words “Animal Control”.  But that’s definitely not the case!  The Animal Control Office of Charlotte houses many adoptable dogs and cats in their huge facility and have many more that are taken care of by foster families.  They work hard to find these pets good homes, just like the Humane Society does!

And animal control works hard to make sure the public and all animals are safe.  They respond to barking and noise complaints and they take care of any dangerous animals (such as wolves) that may have gotten into a neighborhood.  One of the things I love most about Animal Control is that they help puppies and kitties in need.  They respond to animal abuse complaints, like if person is neglecting their pups and cats by not feeding them and making them live in unclean/unsafe conditions.  They will take the animals out of that horrible situation, get them healthy and help find them a loving home!  They also work with disaster response for animals, whether it’s a tornado or a Hazmat situation. Check out this video of an Animal Control Rescue Drill.  And if that’s not enough, they partner with the local food bank to make sure they have pet food for those in financial distress.  They do a lot to keep us safe and they deserve a big thanks for that!

Thank your local Animal Control Officers today in celebration of Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week!

Easter Hazards for Cats & Dogs

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you are enjoying this beautiful spring day!  My Mommy & Daddy have gotten all dressed up in their Easter best to visit friends, family and loved ones.  And they didn’t forget about their pets either!  We all got special pet friendly
Easter presents, such as a stuffed bunny dog toy, Easter egg shaped dog treats,
extra pistachios for the birds, and some extra catnip for Tory the cat.  My Mommy & Daddy got Easter presents too.  But some of them we have to stay away from because they are bad for doggies and cats.

The Easter Lily is a beautiful plant and my Mommy gets one every year from Daddy to celebrate Easter. Mommy keeps this plant way up high in the dining room which is off
limits to all pets.  She can see its beauty, but it’s kept away from Tory.  Tory the cat can become very sick if she eats the Easter Lily!  If a cat eats a Lily, they show signs of
fatigue and vomiting.  The Lily can cause renal failure if ingested, so it’s important to seek veterinarian help as soon as possible if you think your cat has eaten a bit of your holiday plant.  And if you get one as a gift, make sure your cat does not have access to it.  Tory is older and can’t jump very well, so putting it up high helps keep her away from
it. But if your cat is younger and a jumper, even height may not be enough to keep him or her out of the plant, so keep it in a room closed off from your cat.

And if your house has a lot of kids, or even just one, then Easter grass is probably all around!  The plastic fake grass that fills Easter baskets every year is an extremely tempting toy/treat for cats and some dogs.  Easter grass moves in the breeze, makes an interesting sound and is just asking for a cat or puppy to chase and eat it!  Of
course, if puppy or kitty eats this plastic string, then bad things can happen.  The first sign, besides the plastic grass seen in the mouth or in stool, is vomiting and straining to use the bathroom.  Your pet may also have a tummy ache and the stomach is tender to the touch.  Call your vet if you suspect your pet has eaten some Easter grass.  And if you see it coming out in the stool, do not attempt to remove it yourself.  If the string is long the pulling may cause internal damage.  If you have cats or dogs in the house, it’s best to forgo the Easter grass all together and fill your Easter baskets with toys and treats for humans to enjoy.

And as many of you already know, the favorite treat of any holiday, chocolate, is very bad for cats and dogs alike.  And since dogs have such a great nose and can smell this sweet treat around the house, do not use it as an Easter egg hunt item or else fido may get to it before the kids.  Early signs of ingestion in animals include vomiting, diarrhea and trembling.  So enjoy the treat this holiday, but keep it out of the reach of your pets!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Easter!

What are you doing for your pet this Easter?

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs and Cats

Once every month, I get a yummy, special treat.  It’s my Heartworm prevention medication.  All dogs and the cat take this chewable pill the 1st of every month to keep us healthy. I like the taste, but Sidney and Kai do not.  They get theirs with a little bit of peanut butter on it so they’ll eat it.

Heartworms are nasty bugs, called parasites, that are transmitted to dogs and cats by infected mosquitoes.  If a dog or cat is not on preventative medication and gets bitten by a mosquito that is a carrier of heartworms, bad things can happen.  The heartworms effect the arteries of an animals lungs and the right side of their heart.  Heartworms can actually breed inside your pet and the number of parasites can greatly increase.  They also grow up to 1 foot long inside our arteries!  This can cause lots of health
problems for your pet, and can be fatal if left untreated.  (See the heartworm cycle chart courtesy of the American Heartworm Society for more information.)

It can take several months up to a year after infection for a dog or cat to show symptoms of heartworm disease.  Sometimes pets never show signs.  Other times, pets may have a mild, persistent cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.  Heartworm is treatable, usually with a series of injections and hospitalization.  Blood tests should be performed at your pet’s annual physical to test for heartworm infection.

But it’s easy to prevent your pet from having to go through the pain of this illness.  Heartworm preventative chewable pills are easily available from your vet and are to be
given to us every month.  It’s important that we have year round protection, especially in the warm and humid south where mosquitoes are active for most of the year.  And most of the time your pet will enjoy the pill as a special, yummy treat.  I know I do!

Pet First Aid Kits Supplies and Usage

My Mommy & Daddy have a special box in the closet with a picture of a bird, cat, dog and a red cross. This is the pet first aid kit.  It contains everything in it that they would need in case any of us got hurt or sick.  They said it’s important for all pet Mommies
& Daddies to have a pet first aid kit. If we get hurt, Mommy & Daddy will be the first ones to care for us.  This initial care can help lessen the pain, the scariness and the severity of our injuries.

Written on the outside of the box are all the important phone numbers they may need to call if something bad happens.  It includes our veterinarian’s phone number, the local emergency vet clinic number and the Animal Poison Control Center number.  Mommy & Daddy also have these numbers programmed into their cell phones, but it’s always  good to have them written down as well.

Inside the box are first aid items you can find at a pet store and at your local drug store.  Some of the items you can pick up the next time your at the drug store include gauze
and non-stick bandages.  Items to buy at a pet store include a leash, muzzle, a pet digital thermometer, and pet adhesive tape.  It’s important not to buy adhesive bandages used for humans (like band-aids) because the adhesive just won’t work on our fur.


If we get cut, you should wrap the bleeding area in nonstick bandages or clean towels, and then secure it with the pet adhesive tape.  If we are frightened, it’s a good idea to
muzzle us so we won’t get angry and snap at you!  Even though we love you, when we are in pain we go back to our animal instincts and don’t trust anyone!  Then you should immediately call our vet to get further advice on care.

If we are sick, have ingested a possible poison or have a possible broken bone, do not give care to us until you speak with a vet.  Call your vet immediately and they will give
you instructions as to how to care for us before going to the clinic.  It’s important in these situations to get advice from a professional because you may be doing more  harm than good going off of your instincts.  Remember, pets and humans have very different bodies, systems and reactions.

Finally, it’s important to stay calm if your pet needs first aid.  Your pet is scared and if you are too, it will only make him panic more.  Take a few breaths, and then give him the first aid care he need.  And always refer to your veterinarian with any questions regarding your pets care.  They may even have special pet first aid courses you can take to be ready for any emergency.

The Benefits of Playing Games with Your Cat & Dog

No matter the time, no matter the weather, no matter what, I’m ready to play.  As a young pup, I’m always up for a game of fetch, find the treat or even obstacle courses!  To me, anything and everything can be turned into a game.  That’s part of being a
puppy (and part of being a dog Mom or Dad).  And not only can playing be fun for more, but it’s a great way to get exercise and a learning opportunity for both pet and human.

Playing with your pet is a great way to get exercise.  For the more active dog like me, a good game of fetch or agility/obstacle training is a great way to get some energy out!  For an active kitten, playing on their hunting instincts and playing chase the mouse, string, etc is always a fun and active time!  And many times, not only does your dog and cat get a great bought of exercise, but the human does too!  And guess what?  It’s fun!
I have a great time and so does Mommy & Daddy!

If that wasn’t a good enough reason to play with your pet, games can help you bond and learn with your pet.  Playing a game with your dog, like going through an obstacle course, can reinforce your training commands with your pet.  Many times Daddy will set up cones and boxes in the back yard that I have to step onto, go around, or jump over.  He’ll lead me  through the course and tell me what to do.  It’s lots of fun and helps me understand what the words he says means. Also, it helps Daddy understand me better.  As he plays, he notices when I get distracted, if I am having difficulty with a command, and whether I am treat, toy or praise motivated (all three work great for me!) There’s a lot you to learn about your pets personality, and playing games with them is a great way to do this. Plus, the more active time you spend with your pet, the better they trust and
understand you as well. This creates a strong bond between animal and human.

It’s easy to play games with your pet: just use your imagination and go with what your pet enjoys.  Whether it’s hiding treats around the house and letting your pet go on a
“treat treasure hunt” (watch Caroline plays the treat treasure hunt game) or playing “pounce on the toy” with your cat, games are an enjoyable and valuable experience for you and your pet.  So take some time this  weekend to incorporate more playtime in yours and your pets life.

What games do you play with your pet?

Do Dogs Dream? What the Evidence Says.

I sleep in the same room as my Yorkie brother & sister Kai and Sidney.  I usually sleep very soundly but last night I woke up to Kai whining.  At first I didn’t know what was going on.  I stood up and watched Kai.  His eyes were closed, he would let out a
whimper every now and then, and then his legs started moving a little bit.  I got concerned until I realized Kai was having a dream!  He must have been having
a good one too because he got really noisy!

For a while, people didn’t know if doggies had dreams.  And honestly, they still don’t know 100% for sure because we can’t tell them if we dream.  But scientists have done some studies and evidence shows that we do dream!  Most people don’t know this, but
pups have very similar brain structures and brain waves than humans.  And when we sleep, we follow the same sleep cycles as humans.  So our brain structures are created for us to dream!

Scientists say typically dreams occur about 20 minutes after we fall asleep, in what is called the REM cycle of sleep (same as people!)  Our breathing becomes shallow and
irregular.  Our eyes move and our muscles twitch, and we may whine, whimper or even bark, move our limbs and wag our tails.  We dream about 10 to 12 percent of the time we are in the REM cycle.

Myra the Beagle asleep and dreaming

So what do we dream about?  Well, our daily activities!  When you see our eyes moving, we are looking at the images in our dream.  It may be a squirrel, a ball, or a
treat.  And when we make noise or move our legs, we are taking action in our dreams.
One of my favorite dreams is playing ball with my Daddy in the yard!  I bet Kai was dreaming about getting a special treat!  He loves treats!

I hope everyone (humans and pets) has a great night and sweet dreams!

What does your dog do when he/she dreams?

Yorkshire Terriers: Cute and Sassy Dogs

It's Sidney's Turn to Write!

Hi guys and gals!  My older but much smaller sister has decided she would like to give a go at this writing, so I’m letting her have the pen today. Introducing Sidney, the Yorkshire Terrier!

Hi world!  I’m Sidney and I’m a Yorkie!  I’m a sweet little girl with a lot of spunk, as like most Yorkies.  Did you know even though Yorkie’s are called Terriers we are members of the AKC’s Toy Group?  I guess they had to make a hard choice because we’re tiny like the Toy pups but we have a lot of characteristics of Terriers, but they decided our size would win for classification.

But don’t let our size fool you – me and my Yorkie brother Kai are brave, determined, curious and energetic.  If you enter the house, you will hear us first and we will come running to check you out.  Luckily we are both sweeties so we are usually running to give you lots of kisses!  And we are not intimidated by others larger than us at all.  We will play with our younger big sister Maizee all day long!

Since we are so cute, many people want to adopt Yorkies.  But if you choose to do so,
there are a few things you need to know before going through with the process.  For one, Yorkies require a lot of grooming.  Our Daddy takes us to the groomers once or twice a month to get our hair cut.  Our hair doesn’t shed like Maizee’s, it just grows and grows like human hair does, so hair cuts are necessary.  And we need to be brushed often.  You will need to pay special attention to the hair around our face so it doesn’t get matted.  Mommy always puts pretty bows in my hair.  Since Kai is a boy and doesn’t like bows, he gets his hair around his face trimmed regularly.  All our hair cuts can get expensive but Mommy & Daddy say we are worth it, and I agree!

And just because we are small doesn’t mean we are quiet and timid.  We are the exact opposite.  We love to be vocal and will investigate anything.  We love to be active and need lots of exercise, at least 15 minutes of walking or running twice a day to keep us healthy and get some energy out. Younger Yorkies may need more exercise to get their energy out!  And we are intelligent but stubborn – so you need to be patient and consistent with our training in order for us to learn.  My brother and I love the reward
technique for training and we love to be stimulated so learning new tricks and
commands is a lot of fun for us.  And while Kai and I get along great with our brothers and sisters, not all Yorkies adjust well to other animals in the house. It’s best to introduce us as puppies to other members of the family so we get used to having other pets in the home.

Thank you all for letting me write a little bit about Yorkies!  We are tiny, lovable and brave pups who make great companions for the right person. This was fun!  I’ll have to
convince Maizee to let me do this again sometime!

Sugar Free Foods are Bad for Your Dog

Dogs love their own treats - and they are healthy for them too!

A lot of humans are trying to watch their weight, and that has led to the creation of lot of sugar free foods for people.  They make sugarless candies, gums, cookies and all other sorts of foods humans and doggies love to eat!  One common sugar substitute is Xylitol.  It is just as sweet as sugar, but has much less calories, so it is used in a lot of low calorie and sugar free products humans like to eat.  There is a debate as to whether Xylitol is healthy for people, and I’m staying out of that one.  But I can tell you for certain Xylitol is very bad for your pet!

If your pup ingests a product with Xylitol, they can show symptoms of toxicity as early as 30 minutes after eating the food or as long as 12 hours after eating.  Xylitol causes
low blood sugar in dogs because it mimics an insulin-like response but there is no sugar for the insulin to bond with. This low blood sugar level is called hypoglycemia, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.  This is not good for doggies and can cause vomiting, depression, weakness and clumsiness.  Eating Xylitol also causes an increase in doggy liver enzymes, which can cause liver damage.  If a dog consumes large amounts of Xylitol, they may experience life-threatening liver failure.

If you think your dog has consumed a product with Xylitol, it’s best to contact your vet, the emergency vet or call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 as soon as possible to get treatment.

And remember, if you eat these products make sure you do not give them to your pet as a treat.  We are just fine with healthy dog biscuits as a treat!