Cover image for The ASPCA complete guide to pet care
The ASPCA complete guide to pet care
Carroll, David, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Plume 2001.
Physical Description:
xii, 415 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SF413 .C38 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
SF413 .C38 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
SF413 .C38 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
SF413 .C38 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
SF413 .C38 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Written in cooperation with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The ASPCA Complete Guide to Pet Care provides pet lovers with everything they need to know about maintaining the health and well-being of their domestic animals. With individual chapters on each of the most common species of pets, this book is perfect for families that live with more than one type of animal. The easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions include: * Choosing the right pet * What to do when bringing your pet home for the first time * Pet feeding techniques * The best way to pick up your cat * Refresher courses for housebreaking your dog Plus: * Children and pets * Traveling with pets * Animal diseases that may be contagious to humans * Emergency care for your pet . . . and much more. From avoiding predator-prey mixtures in your fish tank to training your guineapig to use a litter box, and featuring an appendix of helpful organizations,The ASPCA Complete Guide to Pet Care is sure to become a perennial favorite among pet lovers everywhere.

Author Notes

David Carroll is the author of "The Year of the Turtle" & "Trout Reflections". He is the recipient of an Environmental Merit Award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

(Bowker Author Biography)



Chapter One The Big Choice: Deciding Which Pet Is Best for You Establishing Your Pet Compatibility Ratio For many families deciding which animal companion to adopt is a major life decision.     Dogs and cats live ten to fifteen years, and other pets live even longer. Certain animals demand attention throughout the day. Others require handling and petting on a regular basis. All household creatures need to be fed, watered, cleaned, and cared for. You will be obliged to provide food, shelter, and love for your adopted pet 365 days of the year.     Bringing an animal companion into your home is thus not only an amusement and a recreation but a long-term commitment, one that requires the same thought and planning you might give to any of life's important decisions. Sharing your home with an animal is a form of partnership, one in which both parties, human and animal, must be comfortable with the accommodations. This, in fact, is the first rule of pet keeping: both pet and person must be happily adjusted to their role in the relationship.     What is the best way of determining which pet is best for you and your household?     There are three principal factors to take into account: personal preference, social compatibility, and living space.     Personal preference. First, there is the obvious matter of affinity and inclination. Which animal--or animals--do you like best? Which ones do you most enjoy having around? Which animal--or animals--would you most prefer to share your home and hearth with for the next X number of years?     Answering this question is, of course, a purely personal matter. If you grew up with malamutes as a child you may prefer them above all other pets. The same is true if you were raised with Maine Coon cats, or parrots, or white mice.     Or perhaps not. Our preferences in animals change through the years along with our tastes and personalities, and often these preferences take a more inclusive direction. Many is the animal lover today, for instance, who ends up keeping three or four pets at the same time, a dog, and a cat, a bird, some fish.     Remember, there is no rule that limits you to having a single pet. As long as there is room in your home, room in your wallet, and room in your heart, the sky's the limit.     Social compatibility. Second, there's the question of social fit: how comfortably will the pet adapt itself to the dynamics of your domestic life, your work habits, your financial situation, your daily schedule? How suited is the animal to living in harmony with the people in your household--your children, your relatives, your spouse, your significant other?     Living space and household logistics. Finally, there are logistical matters to consider: Will a dog or cat, fish tank or bird cage, fit into the physical dimensions of your house or apartment? Will the creature in question get along with your living room furniture and with the neighbor's rose garden? What size and shape pet does your residence most reasonably accommodate? How will such factors as noise, smell, dirt, hairs on the sofa, paw prints on clothes, and other by-products of the animal world affect you? How will it affect those who share your living space? How will it be welcomed by the people next door?     The answers to these questions differ from person to person and pet to pet, with endless variations on the theme. One good way to get a clear angle on your own special needs, and to help you decide which pet is best for you, is to determine your own personal pet compatibility ratio--that is, your overall personal and social affinity with whatever pets you are now considering. Establish this ratio and a clear picture of the animal (or animals) you're best suited to live with will emerge.     The section that follows contains a number of questions all related to pet compatibility. They will help you make your choice from a position of knowledge rather than guesswork. What to Consider When Choosing a Pet Which pet best suits your affections, needs, and personality?     Do you prefer an animal that greets you at the door when you come home from work each day? A pet that lies cozily on your lap while you watch TV? Do you envision a rollicking friend that jogs in the park with yon or that plays games on your living room floor? Are you looking for a constant, loving companion?     Fine. Then you want a dog or eat. Dogs and eats are the most emotionally responsive of all domestic creatures, with the possible exception of certain large tropical birds.     On the other hand, perhaps you'd prefer an animal that requires occasional contact but that does not pine away for your company the moment you leave the house--a small, independent creature that you or your children can pick up and play with from time to time, feed, clean, and admire. End of story.     If this is the case, then gerbils, hamsters, mice, and guinea pigs are all solid bets. Or perhaps one of the friendlier small birds like a parakeet.     Alternately, you may wish for a more exotic creature, something off the beaten track. Not necessarily an animal to cuddle with, but one to enjoy and share your home with in more subtle ways. Reptiles and amphibians fill the bill nicely here.     Finally, you may simply be in the market for a creature that's wonderful to look at but not to relate to in any personal way. Tropical fish make ideal silent companions in this case. They can be watched and admired for hours by adults and children alike. Their colorful appearance and diverse behaviors fascinate observers, and bring a sense of peace and relaxation to any room.     A first step in finding the right pet, therefore, is to calculate the degree of emotional and physical involvement you wish to have with your animal; and equally important, to determine what kind of emotional response you expect in return.     Then act accordingly. Which pet best fits the scheme and layout of your living space?     The human species dwells in a variety of habitats.     Some of us live in the city. Others live in the suburbs or the country. Some have a lawn behind their house, a terrace off the bedroom, a park up the block, a dog run in the neighborhood. Others do not. Some people inhabit a one-bedroom or studio apartment, a farm, or a twenty-room mansion. Others live with their families, with friends and mates, with an older relative, or a single child. Some of us live alone.     Each of these living arrangements places different demands on a person's lifestyle, and hence on the type of pet it's most appropriate to keep. For no matter how politely behaved or inconspicuous a pet may be, there are always challenges.     Dogs, for instance. They shed. They bark. They chew your bathrobe. They slobber. They smell. They track in mud. They jump up on visitors. They roll in manure. They burrow under the fence. They get sick. They eat a lot.     Minor offenses, no doubt, from a creature that provides us with so many major rewards. Still, be sure you're prepared to live with these annoyances. Or at least to spend the time teaching the dog manners.     Once a dog becomes your animal of choice, moreover, there's the fine-tuning to take care of.     The questions to ask yourself now are, What kind of dog best fits my lifestyle and my living space? Do I want an outdoorsy breed suited for backyard frolic or herding sheep? Or a less athletic animal that adjusts easily to sedentary apartment living? Am I looking for a big dog or a little dog? Long hair or short? Pure bred or mixed breed? A dog with a hair-trigger bark to scare away intruders, or a quiet dog that doesn't bother the tenants next door? What are the pros and cons? Large dogs are more expensive to feed and board. Small dogs can be restless and bark too much.     There's also activity level to be considered.     Great Danes, hulks that they are, actually make rather good apartment pets because of their constrained temperaments. The diminutive Jack Russell terrier, on the other hand, can be a nuisance in cramped quarters because of a jumpy, hyperactive nature.     Here a bit of homework on the different breeds will help. The chapters ahead on dog raising will answer most of your questions in this regard.     A similar evaluation, with appropriate modifications, can be applied to cats.     Do you prefer a longhair cat or short? Do you care if your cat is a mixed breed or purebred? Is there anyone in the house, an elderly person, or a young child, who is shaky on their feet, and who might trip over a tabby sleeping in the doorway or on the staircase? Are you thinking of adopting a Siamese? Know in advance that these delightful creatures express their affections with loud and continuous meows. This can be charming or annoying, depending on your tastes. Be prepared too for trips to the veterinarian. Annual visits for maintenance, vaccinations, and checkups are all part of the program, along with those unpredictable (and often inconvenient) occasions when illness comes.     With cats there's the shedding issue, too. All felines, even those with short fur, sprinkle their hairs lavishly about on the bed and the furniture. Despite careful house cleaning on your part, these hairs tend to accumulate, eventually building up to a critical mass. At this point these hairs not only pose a cosmetic problem but a medical one as well.     Why?     Because when cats clean themselves the saliva from their tongues dries on their fur and turns into tiny, invisible flakes. Certain proteins in this dried saliva are anathema to allergically sensitized humans, and can trigger reactions in minutes, causing sneezing, runny nose, skin rashes, even wheezing and shortness of breath for asthmatics. If you sneeze and sputter a lot when you're around a friend's cat this can be a red flag. A number of people suffer from allergies to cat dander.     Similar logistical considerations apply to other household pets.     Thinking of fish? Is there room in your home or apartment for a twenty- or thirty-gallon tank? Is the table or shelf you intend to place the tank on strong enough to support the weight? Thirty gallons of water is a lot of water. And if you're really enjoying it and keeping a much larger tank, 120 gallons, say, how strong are your floor joists? This is not a joke. A hundred and twenty gallons is something like having a baby elephant in the middle of your room. And what will you do if you want to move the tank someday?     Are you particularly noise sensitive? Will the low level bubbling from the aquarium filter annoy you or another family member? Is there a clear route from the fish tank to the sink, so that when you change the water you can empty the buckets of dirty water without stumbling over furniture? (Continues...) Excerpted from The ASPCA Complete Guide to Pet Care by David L. Carroll. Copyright © 2001 by David L. Carroll. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

1. The Big Choice: Deciding Which Pet Is for Youp. 1
Establishing Your Pet Compatibility Ratiop. 1
What to Consider When Choosing a Petp. 3
What to Do If an Adopted Pet Is Not Working Outp. 23
2. Home Is Where Your Pets Are: Living Comfortably with an Animal in a House or Apartmentp. 25
Welcome Homep. 25
Making New Pets Feel Wantedp. 25
Making Your Home Safe for a Pet and Making a Pet Safe for Your Homep. 27
Laying Down the Rules of the Housep. 35
Honoring an Animal's Rights of Privacyp. 38
Choosing the Right Toysp. 38
Protection in Times of Natural Disaster for Petsp. 39
Most of All, Have Funp. 40
3. Children and Petsp. 41
Foremost Concernsp. 41
Matching the Right Pet to the Right Childp. 43
Temperamentp. 43
Agep. 44
Helping Pets Deal with Childrenp. 50
Getting It Right: A How-to List for Children Taking Care of Petsp. 52
Recognizing When Children and Pets Aren't Working Outp. 56
Go with the Flowp. 57
4. Traveling with Your Petp. 59
This Chapter's Time Has Comep. 59
A Word of Warning on Cats and Travelp. 63
Traveling by Carp. 63
Traveling by Planep. 68
Shipping a Petp. 73
Boarding Your Pet at a Kennelp. 73
Choosing the Right Pet Sitterp. 76
5. Keeping Your Pet Healthyp. 78
Overseeing Your Pet's Healthp. 78
Finding a Veterinarianp. 82
Working with Your Veterinarianp. 85
Financial Concerns and Pet Insurancep. 86
The Warning Signs: When to Take Your Pet to the Veterinarianp. 87
Getting to Know Your Pet's Medicationsp. 90
Scheduling Regular Checkupsp. 91
The ABCs of Emergency Carep. 97
Pet Care for the Changing Seasonsp. 104
Special Health Concerns for the Older Petp. 105
6. Saying Good-bye: Grieving for a Petp. 108
Grief: The Universal Human Emotionp. 108
Stages of Griefp. 109
Giving Yourself Permission to Grievep. 111
Ways of Saying Good-byep. 114
Methods of Burial and Disposalp. 116
The ABCs of Grief Workp. 118
When Mourning Becomes Too Painfulp. 122
Grief Counselingp. 124
Helping Children Grieve for a Petp. 125
7. People's Best Friend: Caring for Your Dogp. 128
Origins of the Noble Dogp. 128
A Primer of Canine Behaviorp. 129
Dog Breeds in a Nutshellp. 132
A New Puppy in the Housep. 138
The Puppy's First Few Days at Homep. 141
Feeding a New Puppyp. 143
Step-by-Step Paper Training and Housebreakingp. 146
Dog Grooming 101p. 149
Feeding and Nutritionp. 153
Breaking Bad Habits, Teaching Good Onesp. 157
Maintaining Your Dog's Good Healthp. 165
Other Important Health Concerns for Dogsp. 172
Tips to Keep Your Dog in Top Physical Conditionp. 175
8. Caring for Your Catp. 179
Your Mysterious Houseguestp. 179
A Primer of Cat Behaviorp. 180
Cat Breeds in a Nutshellp. 183
Choosing the Right Catp. 189
A New Cat in Your Homep. 191
Basic Cat and Kitten Carep. 194
Feline Nutritionp. 199
Secrets of Good Feline Groomingp. 203
Basic Training for Your Catp. 208
Keeping Your Cat Well and Healthyp. 212
Common Feline Diseasesp. 217
Further Cat Concernsp. 224
9. Small Furry Animalsp. 230
Owning a Small Animalp. 230
Hamstersp. 230
Gerbilsp. 238
Rabbitsp. 244
Guinea Pigsp. 253
Ferretsp. 262
Ratsp. 270
Micep. 276
10. Birdsp. 284
What Kind of Bird Do I Want?p. 284
Types of Pet Birdsp. 290
Housing for Pet Birdsp. 302
Food and Nutritionp. 304
The Art and Science of Bird Carep. 306
Keeping Your Bird Healthy and Fitp. 316
Common Bird Ailmentsp. 320
11. Fishp. 324
The Subtle Magic of the Fish Tankp. 324
Setting up the Aquariump. 325
The Art and Science of Adding Fish to a Tankp. 340
Feeding Timep. 342
Choosing Fish for an Aquariump. 344
Maintaining the Health of Your Fishp. 354
12. Reptiles and Amphibiansp. 362
Why Keep Reptiles or Amphibians as Pets?p. 362
Reptilesp. 366
Amphibiansp. 400
Appendixp. 411