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The Pros and Cons of a Raw Food Diet

Jul 18 , 2018

The Pros and Cons of a Raw Food Diet

Aisha Sequeira

A raw food diet for domesticated dogs or RMBD (Raw Meat-Based Diet) is not a new idea, in fact, it’s quite traditional for work dogs such as sled dogs or racing hounds to be fed in this way. But the more recent idea of applying this diet to house dogs, as first proposed in 1993 by Ian Billinghurst has had a somewhat more controversial reception.

Billinghurst is an Australian veterinarian who suggested that pet dogs would be much better off with a diet that emulated what they would have consumed in a natural environment before they were domesticated by humans arguing that grain-based processed pet food was actually harmful. However, mainstream vets tended to disagree with this theory.

Since then, scientists have gained interest and started investigating whether or not a raw food diet had the potential to be a valid alternative to conventional processed and home-cooked dog food. There are evidence and arguments supporting both sides of the debate but the consensus generally remains against the idea.

So what are the reported benefits of a raw food diet for dogs? And do any of the claims ring true? Before we get to these questions, let us clarify exactly what a raw food diet is.

What is a Raw Dog Food Diet?

When Billinghurst originally proposed the raw food theory, he humorously gave his diet the acronym: BARF which stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. The main components of such a diet as outlined in his book entitled “Give Your Dog a Bone” consisted of large uncooked meaty bones supplemented with scraps of vegetables.

After the book was released many others devised their own take on the BARF diet which can be described all over the internet and have even become commercially available. Some are freeze-dried and others have additional quantities of vegetables, minerals, vitamins, and grains.

Typically a modern raw dog food diet consists of the following ingredients:

  • Raw muscle meat, generally still attached to the bone
  • Whole or ground bones
  • Raw eggs
  • Offal
  • Dairy products such as yoghurt
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables

Different diets use many or all of the ingredients above but may have them in varying quantities or combinations. They are not just available commercially as complete diets but are also sold as supplemental to a conventional diet too.

For most people, getting the combination right is a matter of evaluation to determine the dogs nutritional needs depending on their breed, size and any other health requirements they may have.

 Exploring the Benefits

Those who vouch for the RMBD claim a multitude of benefits can be achieved both in the short and long term. It is also assumed that since dogs are primarily carnivorous and a close relation to the wild wolves we see today, an RMBD must be better than processed food.

The benefits include:

  • A stronger immune system
  • A shinier coat
  • Improved dental and dermal health
  • More energy
  • Smaller stools
  • Elimination of breath and body odor

Some of these do sound fairly logical for the absence of carbohydrates in this diet would show better dental health, and gnawing at hard surfaces such as bone would also help to clean the teeth.

When concerning the potential of a pet to obtain a shinier coat from this kind of diet, Lisa Freeman of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine points out that it is only a result of having higher concentrations of unhealthy fats in RMBD’s and if processed food had as much fat, the same result could be achieved.

Exploring the Risks

It does sound like any pet dog that’s not partaking in the RMBD trend is missing out on a hugely beneficial lifestyle! But despite concerns some may have over processed kibble, expert vets at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine are more concerned about the lack of scientific evidence vouching for RMBD’s and the associated risks.

The risks include:

As you can see, even though the reported risks are not high in number, they are quite concerning. It’s also entirely possible that enteric bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter can transfer between pet and owner as a result of the handling and consumption of raw animal products.

Many advocates of the raw diet have given their response pointing out that processed dog foods, as well as raw meat available for humans, can just as easily contain just as much of these bacteria strains and that the concerns are overblown.

When it comes to nutritional imbalances, vets say that commercially available dog food blends have been tweaked and nutritionally balanced to meet a dog’s nutritional requirements depending on their age, breed, and size.

RMBD’s have been reported to have deficiencies of vitamins C and E, too much vitamin D and an improper ratio of calcium to phosphorus which can in the long term cause health problems such as hyperthyroidism and rickets.

Is it Worth the Risks?

It’s very much up to the pet owner to know what’s best for their dog, many who choose a raw meat diet for their dogs are very responsible, for example, they practice kitchen hygiene to a great extent; ensuring the counters and equipment are cleaned thoroughly to prevent the spread of bacteria.

But given that dogs are not always at the peak of their health, such as if they are puppies, elderly or undergoing chemotherapy, their immune system is compromised and thus much more likely to become infected, so it’s not always a great decision.

There are many holistic dog food formulas out there which use real meat in their recipes, that claim to be home cooked and are high in protein, low in carbs and low in fats that are without the risks of choking and are balanced nutritionally and this just seems altogether safer and also more cost-effective.

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Buying Food for Shih Tzus and Other Toy Breeds

Jul 10 , 2018

Buying Food for Shih Tzus and Other Toy Breeds

Aisha Sequeira

Your pet is like your child, so you want the best for it. Taking care of a pet can be a lot of work, but it’s a lot easier when you know exactly what your pet needs. Small dogs may have large personalities, but their small stomachs call for a special diet. Shih Tzus, for example, just like many small breeds, are prone to hypoglycemia and allergies that are easily remedied with a dog food tailored to its needs. Here we answer several questions you might have as well as offer some tips when finding the right food for your toy dog.

Why Do Toy Breeds Need Special Food?

All dogs need nutritious and wholesome food, but small dogs need more consideration. Because of their faster metabolism, toy breed puppies actually need more calories than larger breeds do. This doesn’t mean that they should eat more – their food should have more inside it. They use more calories resting and are known to have more energy in general, so a higher calorie food will help keep your pup going.

Toy breeds, especially Shih Tzus, are prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially at an early age. They metabolize their food at high rates and lack of fat reserves, which can cause their blood sugar to fall quickly. You can tell when your pup has hypoglycemia sugar if it shows signs of weakness, fatigue, shaking, and seizures. Because of this, small breed puppies should eat many small nutrient-rich meals per day.

Most puppies outgrow their proneness to hypoglycemia within a few months, but you should still keep an eye on your toy breed, as they will always have a faster metabolism. Since toy breeds’ bodies mature faster, you’ll want to switch to an adult dog food after the pup turns a year old. Even though these dogs do need more calories per day, do not overfeed them. Obesity is one of the biggest issues in toy breeds. Keep each meal small and make sure you aren’t overfeeding them.

Shih Tzus in particular are a heavier toy breed that can weigh up to 16 pounds. They are one of the longest-living dog breeds – their life expectancy is 13 years! Depending on their size and activity level, a Shih Tzu should eat anywhere between 400 and 650 calories per day. 

What’s in a Good Toy Breed Food?

There are a few key differences between toy breed dog food and other foods that make it easier for dogs like Shih Tzus to eat. Toy breed foods are broken up into smaller pieces so that it’s easier for them to chew. You don’t want your furry friend choking on a large piece of food!

Vitamins are very important for a small dog. Shih Tzus are especially prone to brittle bones, so look for foods high in magnesium and calcium to help keep your pet’s bones strong. Your Shih Tzu’s long hair also needs nutrients, so keep it on a diet of healthy fats.

Depending on the breed, small dogs need to eat about 40 calories per pound of their body weight per day whereas larger dogs need only about 15 calories per pound each day. Since toy dogs need their nutrients in a high-calorie, smaller pieced food, you’ll want to look for certain things. Always check the ingredient list on dog foods to make sure you’re getting the right ingredients for your pet.

Protein

Everyone needs protein, but dogs with higher metabolisms need a little bit more so that their muscles stay healthy and strong. Shih Tzus specifically need more protein than other dogs. It’s recommended that puppies have a 22 percent protein content and adults consume 18 percent of protein per day for diet maintenance.

In a good dog food, the ingredient list will have at least five meat proteins listed as the first ingredients. When looking at the ingredient list, look for fish, beef, lamb, and whole chicken or chicken meal. These are good animal proteins that toy breeds can easily digest. Plant proteins, though acceptable on occasion, shouldn’t be the base of your pet’s diet. Try to avoid plant protein-based foods as small dogs can’t digest them as well.

Fat

Many dog foods have more fat than recommended for certain breeds, so it’s important to really research which brands are the best. Adult small dogs don’t need a lot of fat – a food with 5-8 percent fat is good for maintaining a healthy diet. For puppies, though, you’ll want to get a food that has about a 17 percent fat content to help with growth.

One of the best fat sources in dog food is chicken fat. You should also look for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, best found in fish or flax seed/flax seed oil. These fatty acids provide a nutritious diet for longevity.

Carbohydrates

The word “carbohydrates” has a negative connotation when it comes to maintaining a diet, and while many pet owners try to avoid feeding their dogs carbs, you shouldn’t avoid them altogether. It’s true that toy breeds like Shih Tzus are prone to obesity, but a healthy, lower carb diet helps keep your pet energized. The first thing to look for in terms of carbs is complex carbs over simple carbs. Simple carbs are the processed, unhealthy ingredients you want to avoid.

You can choose to feed your pet a food with grains or keep them on a grain-free diet. But just like humans, if your dog doesn’t have an allergy, don’t avoid it. If you’re afraid your pet is allergic to something, you can avoid what, soy, and corn and choose to base your dog’s carb diet on fiber-rich ingredients such as barley, rice, and oats.

Small dogs don’t need a lot of carbs, so it’s best to avoid high-carb ingredients such as tapioca and sweet and normal potatoes.

What Ingredients Should I Avoid?

You only want the best for your dog, and that means knowing what to avoid in a dog food. If an ingredient list has items with the terms “digest” or “by-product,” avoid that brand altogether. Those are less digestible and are not good for your furry friend.

Avoid anything that acts as a protein substitute for animal protein. This can be anything from corn gluten, wheat gluten, peas, and rice protein. These are not as nutritious as meats and don’t truly add anything to your pet’s diet. 

If you see an unnamed or vague ingredient on the list, avoid buying that brand. Generic names such as “meat” and “animal fat” can mean anything. Make sure the ingredients are specific – “chicken fat,” “lamb,” and “chicken” are more specific and you know exactly what type of meat your dog is eating. 

Any artificial additives are on the black list as well. They no nutritional value and are not necessary in a dog food. The artificial ingredients you might see on the package are any sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), propyl gallate, tert-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), ethoxyquin, and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). Scientists have found evidence of these additives causing cancer. Instead look for natural preservatives. Vitamins E and C are good for your pet and actually add something to its diet.

What if my Toy is Overweight?

If you fear your small dog might be overweight, don’t worry! There are a few steps you can take to get your pup back on track to losing weight and becoming a normal and healthy animal. 

Avoid giving your dog human food. This goes for all dogs, large or small, but especially for toy breeds. They’re so prone to obesity, and that one piece of bacon will have detrimental effects on your pet’s health. This will also help you keep track of what your pet is eating. 

Lower the dog’s caloric intake until it reaches a healthy weight again, and increase the vegetable and protein content of your pet’s diet. This will lower the carb and fat intake (but don’t completely eliminate these food groups!) and help your dog maintain a healthy weight.

There is no one true diet for all small dogs, so you have to tailor it to your dog’s breed, size, and activity level. Shih Tzus in particular need certain nutrients for healthy hair and bones, and all toy dogs need more calories in general. Use these tips to find the best food for your four-legged friend.

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12 Natural Home remedies for Dogs

Jul 10 , 2018

12 Natural Home remedies for Dogs

Aisha Sequeira

According to yearly spending graph records, a huge ratio of dog-owner’s monthly budget is invested in dog care, training, food, and protection. Moreover, besides dog foods, dog-parents spend most on OTC medicines and veterinary treatments and care.

Is there a way to cut down the dog expenses? Most dog-owners search out for a natural and inexpensive way to deal with day-to-day health problems. Here are 12 home remedies that actually work and will help you save extra dollars:

  1. Excessive Itchiness:

Extreme itching is caused due to ticks and fleas, so check for them first. Dogs usually scratch their skin due to excessive dryness, so prepare a paste of oatmeal soaked in some water. Apply the paste on the itchy patches, let it set for 10 minutes and wash it off with warm water.

You don't have oatmeal at home? There’s an alternative: Chamomile tea. It has got really soothing effects for dry skin dogs. Prepare chamomile tea and fill it in a spray bottle. Cool it down by refrigerating it for some time. Apply it onto the pet’s skin to relieve the irritation.

Vitamin E oil is good for treating dry and irritating skin. Apply it to the targeted areas.

  1. Stomach Issues:

Dogs who overeat, eat fast or are on medication suffer from stomach disorders. The beneficial bacteria of the stomach gets washed off due to excessive medication. Mild stomach disorders can be treated by adding yogurt to the dog’s meal. Yogurt has active cultures of beneficial bacteria for the dog’s stomach.

  1. Herbal Shampoos for Tick-Removal:

Anti-tick herbal shampoos are inexpensive and prevent allergic reactions or skin irritations. They are effective tick removing shampoos for your pup. Put rose geranium or palo santo essential oil into an organic shampoo (you can choose lavender). Shampoo the pooch every week because it’s not irritating for the skin.

  1. Deworming the Dog:

Chop some carrots coarsely to mix them with the dog food. The mixture effectively deworms the dog.

Feed the carrot chopped chunks to the pooch, and they will not get digested or absorbed by the digestive system. So, it will prevent any change in daily meal nutritional change or pH balance of the stomach.

They will simply scrape the mucus layer along the digestive lining that contains the worms. The carrot will get expelled in the same form of chunks along with worms and mucus. Afterward, grate some carrots for adding into the dog food to boost the immune system and fight any infections.

  1. Constipation in Dogs:

Dogs often suffer from constipation. If the pooch has a mellow gait, is straining and visiting toilet frequently, constipation can be the reason for discomfort. Add canned pumpkin to the dog’s meal to soften it all up. In severe cases, mix a tablespoon of Milk of Magnesia to the food.

Don’t forget to get the approval from a vet.

  1. Engulfing Toxic Food:

Dogs are ‘gregarious munchers’ that’ll eat up anything they come across. They are curious to taste, smell, and touch everything. If your dog has swallowed toxic food, use hydrogen peroxide to make the dog throw up. The standard amount is 1 teaspoon/ 5 pounds of dog’s weight. You can repeat it once if required. Keep the vet informed as well. It’s best to give raw kibbles instead of raw chew bones to your dog to prevent accidental swallowing and emergencies.

  1. Food Bowl:

A major reason behind allergic reactions, hot spots, or skin irritations (in the face area) is plastic bowls. Bacteria and other food contaminants inhabit plastic which can be quite irritating. Use metal or glass bowls instead and wash them once a week thoroughly.

  1. Sprained or Strained Area:

Hyperactive dogs can face the problem of strained or sprained foot and may be seen limping every other day. Visits to the vet can be a hectic thing to do. Why not try a trick we have for you? Simply add half a cup of Epsom salt in warm bathing water. Let the dog soak in it twice every day. However, if the dog resists bathing, soak a cloth in the Epsom salt solution to apply on the strained area.

  1. Tick Prevention:

Besides other DIY tick preventing measures, there’s another one to keep them out of reach. If you are taking the dog to grassy areas with high grass length, you can make leg warmers out of your old socks to cover the dog’s leg. It’ll reduce the chances of tick infestation. But, do not forget to check for these tiny monsters in the dog’s fur when you return home.

  1. Natural Flea Control Remedy:

Yes, there is a naturally occurring enemy of fleas: Nematodes. Spread them out in bushy areas of your garden as they love to eat flea larva. They are good flea population controlling agent. You can get them from garden shops.

Fleas do not like citrus so make the pooch’s fur sour-as-citric acid by rubbing orange or lemon juice in it. Avoid using it if the dog feels irritated.

  1. Cuts, Scrapes, and Abrasions:

Prepare a mixture by taking a pint of water, half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of calendula tincture. Apply it by filling the solution in a large syringe to cover the injured area. If the paws are injured, soak them in the solution. Repeat the process every 4-6 hours for a day. It’ll stimulate the healing process.

  1. Loose Stool:

If the dog has eaten anything from the dung, he will have an irritated bowel that will speed up the digestion process. As the food moves past the digestive lining quickly, the dog will have loose stool. It is a worst case scenario for dogs suffering from irritable bowel disease (hypersensitivity to change in food).

Take a tablespoon of slippery elm (herb) available in powder or capsule form (powder-filled). Add it into a pint of water and bring the mixture to a boil till it thickens. Let the mixture cool down. Give a teaspoon to small dogs and several tablespoons to large dogs every 3 to 4 hours for a day.

These home remedies will save your monthly expenses for a lot of Fido expenses. Would you take some time out to try these under veterinary care and advice? If you have other home remedies, share with us in the comments.

About the Author: 

James is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant with years of experience in dog training and the man behind LabradorTrainingHQ.com. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times.

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How To Include Your Dog In Your Summer Vacation

travel vacation

Jul 10 , 2018

How To Include Your Dog In Your Summer Vacation

Aisha Sequeira

If you are a dog lover then you will know that they aren’t just pets, they are very much a part of the family. For some people who don’t have kids, their dogs are their kids! So, it only makes sense that you would want to include them on your summer vacation. Nice idea I know but how can you put it into practice without causing undue stress to you or your furry best friend?

Pet Friendly Hotels

One of the most obvious places to start is to look at pet friendly hotels and B&Bs around the area you want to visit on your vacation. You would be surprised at just how many actually do allow pets so it’s definitely worth doing some research. When it comes to choosing a pet friendly hotel it can be easy to focus on the needs of your dog first but don’t forget that this is your well-earned vacation time so make sure that you and your family are happy with it first and that it will allow you to have the trip that you want.

What Kind Of Trip Will It Be?

Think about what kind of vacation you want to have and then you can decide whether it’s suitable for your dog. When it comes to making this decision, you need to be unselfish and put the needs of the dog first. For example, if you are looking for a beach holiday or to sunbathe by the pool all day then it wouldn’t be a good idea to take your dog along. They will most likely be bored and far too warm. Equally, a sightseeing city break wouldn’t be suitable for them either.

There are lots of types of vacation that would be suitable to bring your dog alone to however. Hiking trips, staying in an RV, camping and staying in a lakeside cabin are all great opportunities to bring your dog along with you.

How Will You Get There?

This is probably the most important concern for anyone thinking about taking their dog on vacation with them. You may be thinking that the distance is the most important factor to consider but actually, it’s the mode of transport. For example, if you have to travel all the way across the country but you have a spacious RV that they will be comfortable in and are able to make regular stops for them to stretch their legs and do their business then the distance becomes less of an issue.

If you are travelling overseas then again, the means of transport is the biggest concern. A lot of airlines do allow dogs on their flights, but they will have to be checked in as cargo, so they won’t be allowed in the cabin area with you. Even though they are well looked after this is still a stressful experience for the dog and so travelling by ferry if possible is still the preferable option.

Give Them A Vacation Of Their Own

An alliterative to including your dog in your vacation is to give them their very own vacation. There are lots of 5-star kennels which are really more like pet hotels that will look after your pooch while you’re away. If you do your research and choose the right pet hotel you can rest assured that your dog will have the time of their life running around the spacious playing areas with other dogs and you will find that they will be exhausted by the time you return. Good pet hotels will know which types of dogs will play well together and which won’t, and they will take lots of pictures and videos and often upload them to Facebook each night so if you are pinning for them at least you can see that they are having a great time.

Plan Ahead

Whatever you decide to do it’s important to plan ahead just as you would do for a regular family vacation. If you are taking your dog out of the country, then they will require a passport (yes really!) and then there is their healthcare and vaccinations to think about, pets can take ill on vacation just like the rest of us. You will also need to find out if you can access their food while you are there or if you will need to take some with you.

There are lots of things to consider when taking your dog with you on vacation, not least if you should take them at all. So, do your research and remember to take the needs and wellbeing of the dog into consideration.

Author Bio: Stuart Cooke is from Uni Baggage. He is a dog lover, so he knows how important it is for pet owners to be comfortable that they are doing the right thing when taking their pets on vacation.

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Pet Survival Kit

May 24 , 2018

Pet Survival Kit

Aisha Sequeira

Guest Post by PoochingAround.co.uk

Being prepared for the worst to happen can help you to be ready for when natural disasters or attacks force you out of your home and on the move with your beloved four-legged friend. It will be hard to eliminate all the fear and panic in a situation like that for both you and your pet, but your emergency preparedness will help reduce it significantly.

Although human life is always more important than animal life, if you take on the responsibility of owning a pet, you are essentially agreeing to keep it safe and look after it even when situations are stressful and you are uprooted from your home.

Items to Prepare:

  • At least 3 days worth of food, tinned food being the best choice.
  • A large volume bottle of water that will last a number of days, at least.
  • A pop-up bowl that can be used both for water and food, particularly if you are on the move a lot.
  • A spare collar, in case the one your pets are wearing just now breaks or is damaged.
  • Copies of all their medical records and the medications they need, if any.
  • Their favourite blanket to try and help them feel secure and comfortable, even if they are away from home and in a strange and new environment.
  • Their favourite toy to help them feel as calm as possible
  • A print of local shelters and vets in your area, possible even region or county just in case you can’t get access to the internet or any other means of checking for phone numbers and addresses.

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Tips for First-time Pet Owners

bonding first pet new puppy pet owners pets

May 24 , 2018

Tips for First-time Pet Owners

Aisha Sequeira
Pets are a blessing as they liven up your home. Research has shown that they can improve your health, but a new pet requires commitment. Pets will take up your time, space and money. Therefore, you need to be prepared for what it takes to be a responsible pet owner. Here are some tips to help you with choosing the right pet.

How to determine the kind and breed of pet that is right for you

There are many different types of pets that you can choose including dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits, fish, rats, rabbits, ferrets and horses among others. Your right choice of pet will be determined by factors such as how large your home or yard is, whether you live on a rented property, amount of free time you have, the kind of activities you would like to engage in with your pet, whether you have any pet allergies and availability of resources to take care of your pet. Consider taking an online pet quiz to guide you in determining the most suitable pet for you.

Puppies and dogs are high attention pets that require you to spend quite a bit of time with either petting or playing with them. On the other hand, cats and kittens are sociable, but they require less attention and space than dogs.

While parrots are entertaining and intelligent creatures, they are not easy-care as most people assume. Their diet is complex and varied, and you will need to provide adequate entertainment either in the form of TV, radio or toys.

Horses are time, money, care and space intensive. Bunnies require a quiet environment and gentle handling. Ferrets are low-maintenance animals that spend most of their time in cages but can you regularly let them out to play.

 Preparing your home for a new pet

Begin by talking to the rest of your family about bringing a pet home. Teach your family members how to properly handle and set house rules in regard to your pet. Distribute pet responsibilities such as grooming, feeding, exercising and playing among yourselves.

Adapt your home for your new pet.  Pet-proof it by keeping away potentially dangerous items. Buy all the necessary pet supplies such as toys, food, feeding bowls, beds, leash and cage among others before bringing your pet home. Set up a space for your pet either in a room or at a corner of the house.

Help your pet acclimate to the new environment

If you are bringing home a mature animal that is already on a routine, aim to keep the routine the same in your new home. You may make changes to the routine as the pet gets accustomed to the new environment, but for the first few days endeavor to keep everything the same. The pet shelter or store where you found your pet from knows the animal well. Get as much information as possible about the pet. It will go a long way in helping the pet adapt to your home.

If you can, bring along some of the pet’s favorite items from their previous home. Rescue pets may feel nervous and fearful at first, spending time with them and creating a comfortable space will help them adjust fast. An elderly pet requires special care that incorporates increased veterinary visits, a special diet that is rich in nutrients and easy to digest and a comfortable living environment.

How to bond with your new pet

The easiest way to bond with a new pet is to spend time together regularly. Each day try to schedule some time to spend with your pet either playing, exercising or grooming. Talk to your pet in a warm and reassuring tone. Treat your new friend well and ensure all your pet’s needs are met. Your pet will gradually warm up to you, your family and your new home.

Do your research on the different kind of pets and what they require. Educate yourself about pet care and laws.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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