Pet Care Tips: Home is where the Chinchilla is

A home that is safe and has the necessities for a chinchilla to live in is sure to keep him happy. In today's Pet Care Tips, we take a look at the things you need to make your chinchilla feel right at home!

The Cage

A desirable cage for a chinchilla is one that has room for him to run and jump around. The minimum size you should get is 16 x 18 x 16 inches. Of course, the bigger, the better! Take a look at an example of a suitable cage for your chinchilla.

There are many cages with solid flooring that make excellent homes for a Chin. Some cages (like the one above) have multiple levels for even more fun and exercise!

IMPORTANT:Avoid getting a cage that has wired flooring as it can hurt your chinchilla's tender feet. You should also avoid glass tanks due to poor ventilation.

Keep the cage away from direct sunlight and other heat sources as a chinchilla is sensitive to heat and humidity. It would be ideal to keep your chin in an air-conditioned room, otherwise the room must be well-ventilated with multiple fans to keep him cool. Extreme heat can cause your chinchilla to get a heatstroke. Since a chin sleeps quite a bit during the day, his cage should be placed in a shaded and dimly-lit area.

The Bedding

It is important to select the right kind of bedding for your chinchilla's cage. Choose pelleted or shredded paper as they can absorb liquid and odour well. They are also safe for your chinchilla to nibble on. Avoid bedding that is made from pine or cedar as they can be painful for your chinchilla's feet. They may also cause respiratory problems for your precious chin.

The Necessities: Food and Water

Provide a food bowl and a hay rack which can hold and keep hay clean and dry. A water bottle with a metal stopper should also be attached onto the cage so that your chinchilla will have a continuous supply of water to drink. A heavy water bowl is also a great option.

Now You See Me, Now You Don't!

Give your chinchilla some privacy by providing him with a little hideout. It can be in the form of nest boxes to tunnels so long as it is chew-proof. A hiding place should make your chinchilla feels safe and secure.

"Laundry Day"

Chinchillas are 'clean freaks' that do not like their cages to be dirty.

Once a week, here are some things you have to do:
- Change the bedding
- Wash the water bottle and food bowl and other items in the cage (such as toys, exercise wheel etc.) with mild soap and water
- Make sure everything is dry before fixing them back into the cage

While you are cleaning your chinchilla's abode, you should also give him a dust bath. Like we said, a chin loves cleanliness! He maintains his softens plush fur by grooming and taking regular dust baths. Place dusting powder in a deep, heavy bowl and let your chinchilla take a dust bath once or twice a week.

Here's a video to see just how adorable they are even when taking a bath!

So, remember, a clean, airy and spacious home is where a happy chinchilla wants to be

Adapted from: Chinchilla Care!

Images from: Peta Kids and One Stop Bunny Shop

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Beat the Monday Blues: Uh-oh...we're locked out!

Do you hold the door when you see somebody running for the lift or do you press hard on the 'door close' button so that you do not have to share the lift with anyone else? Whichever the situation you fall into, think about why you do it. Today's video will show you that a simple act of kindness does not just happen among people, even our furry friends practice them too.

Thanks to the help of the ginger kitty, the doggies made it into the house! Go ahead and help someone today (:

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[Event info] Dog Adoption Drive @ Torte

Have a soft spot for local doggies?

If so, then swing by Exclusively Mongrels’ adoption drive this Sunday at Torte, from 11am to 3pm. There are lovable pooches up for adoption and a special brunch menu for visitors at the event. So, drop by!

For more information, visit Torte Cafe Facebook Event page

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Pet Adoption Friday: MJ from Cat Welfare Society

Name: MJ
Gender: Female
Age: 4 Months Old
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Colour: Black
Dewormed: Yes
Vaccinated: Yes

Currently in the hands of a fosterer, MJ is very affectionate and adapts quickly to living in a new environment and with new family members. MJ is one kitty that simply melts in your hands and has no problem with being amongst people or cats.

If you wish to adopt MJ, please send in an SMS to Ms Nurul at 90614146. An adoption fee of $50 is required to offset the costs of deworming and vaccination. Sterilisation deposit applies. House visits will also be scheduled.

Do visit Cat Welfare Society’s Facebook page and website for more details.

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Pet Care Tips: Hammie’s Puffed-Up Cheeks!

Ever wondered why your hamster's cheeks can get so puffed up? No need to be alarmed. He probably has food in his mouth. In fact, hamsters are known to hoard their food.

Trivia: The name 'Hamster' comes from a German word 'Hamstern' which means 'to hoard'! So it is actually no surprise as to why these furry creatures have this habit. They are just living up to their name!

Hamsters have large cheek pouches that are used for collecting and storing food. The food in the cheek pouches stay fresh and dry because the pouches do not contain salivary glands. The rough texture of the skin lining in the cheek pouches also helps hold food in place so it does not fall out of the hamster’s mouth.

In the wild, they use their black cheek flashes and cheek-pouches to transport food back into their burrows. This is to probably to make sure that they would always have a sufficient supply of food to feed themselves.

Take a look at this really cute hamster stuffing food into his mouth!

So the next time you clean your hamster's cage, look out for stashes of food hidden in his little house! Provide just the right amount of food - about one tablespoon a day should suffice. Offer your hamster treats once in a while but make sure the pieces are not too big. Otherwise, it would be quite challenging for him to stuff food into his mouth and achieve that puffed up look!

Adapted from: Food Hoarding in Animals (book) , Pet SourceASPCA , Small Animal Channel , Syrian Hamster Club and Hamsterific

Image from: ABL Lebanon

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Beat the Monday Blues: Mighty Mice!

While we’ve often watch dogs perform tricks, we hardly hear much about small animals like mice being able to do similar things. Get ready to be impressed by these incredible mice as they shoot hoops and even skateboard (we’re not kidding)! By the end of it, we hope that all your blues will go away!

Training takes time and commitment. It is unlikely that the mice achieve such results overnight. The key is to keep practising with your pet and who knows, we might just feature your video next time!

While you are at it, join us at our A Pet is For Life Facebook group and tweet to us on Twitter.

Pet Adoption Friday: Barney, Princess and Indi from Animal Lovers League

We have three very special friends in today's Pet Adoption Friday.
Each has a brave story to tell.
Let's find out more about them!

Barney was rescued from Pulau Ubin after an accident which had cost him his front paw. This paw later had to be amputated, leaving him with a stump. Despite this, he is active and happy.

Name - Barney
Gender - Male
Breed - Cross Breed
Size - Medium
Health - Good
Age - 3 years 6 months
Vaccinated - Yes
Sterilized - Yes
Paper Trained - No
Basic Commands - Yes
Good w/ Children - Yes
Good w/ Pets - Yes

Barney has only three legs, but that doesn't make him any less of a dog! This lovely brown boy is so sweet and loving, and loves to be cradled like a baby. He is very easy to manage and walks well on a leash. Barney comes across as shy at first, but is quick to warm up once he knows you.

Princess was rescued after a lorry ran over her hind legs. This sweet little girl might only have three legs, but she is no different from any other cat.

Name - Princess
Gender - Female
Breed - Cross Breed
Size - Small
Health - Good
Age - 7 months
Vaccinated - Yes
Sterilized - Yes
Paper Trained - Yes
Basic Commands - No
Good w/ Children - Yes
Good w/ Pets - Yes

Playful like all kittens and are oh-so affectionate, she is already sterilised. Will she be the perfect Princess for you?

Princess is the sweetest and most loving kitten we have.

Name - Indi
Gender - Female
Breed - Cross Breed
Size - Medium when fully grown
Health - Good
Age - 4 Months
Vaccinated - Yes
Sterilised - No
Paper Trained - Yes
Basic Commands - Yes
Good w/ Children - Yes
Good w/ Pets - Yes

Indi was abandoned semi paralysed. She is sweet, friendly and has an amazing spirit. Indi cannot control her pooing and will need owners who are willing to clean up after her.

If you are keen to adopt Barney*, Princess or Indi, you can contact Christine at 97937162 or send an email to general@animalloversleague.com. Please also send in info about your family, housing, pets if any.
*For Barney, you may also contact Marcus @ 96973491

For more information, visit Animal Lovers League’s (ALL) Facebook Page.

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Pet Care Tips: Meals for gerbils!

Knowing the right type of food and quantity to give's important when it comes to feeding your pets. This week, let's look at what's supposed to go into a gerbil's diet!

Main Course
Make sure that you provide a balanced diet which has all the nutrients and minerals your gerbils need. A gerbil's diet consists of commercial food mixes containing seeds, grains and nuts. These commercial mixes are formulated to meet their biological needs. Alternatively, feeding your gerbil with a high quality hamster food is also possible since gerbil food is not commonly available in Singapore.

A bowl of gerbil food mix

Sides
Fruits like apples and oranges and vegetables like cucumbers and carrots should only be used as a supplement and add variety to their meals.

Grapes and rhubarbs are poisonous to rodents. DO NOT feed them to your gerbil!

Make sure to remove any unconsumed food as they can easily go bad and can cause your gerbil to have a tummy ache if eaten.

Mealtimes
You can feed your gerbil with commercial food mix twice daily.

Serving Portion
At every meal time, feed your gerbil half a tablespoon of food in the morning and another half in the evening.

Gimme my treat!
Although they are favourite treats, sunflower seeds and peanuts should only be given to your gerbil occasionally as these 'delicacies' are high in fat and may cause obesity. Pumpkin seeds are healthier alternatives and they are almost as delicious and are available from pet shops.

Drink up!

Like food, water is as equally important in a gerbil's diet. Gerbils need an average of between 2ml and 4ml per 100g body weight daily. Make sure you provide him with suitable a water bottle with a metal spout where your gerbil can have constant access to clean drinking water.

Do take note of any significant changes in your gerbil's drinking habits. Too much or too little hydration can be a sign of a medical problem. Seek help from a vet immediately.

Adapted from: PDSA and RSPCA

Image from: DeviantArt, Examiner.com, John Vena Produce and Mr Johnsons

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Post-Event Highlights: Woodgrove Pets Carnival

What a weekend it was! Last Saturday, 12 January 2013, AVA had a booth at the void deck of Blk 354 Woodlands Avenue 1 for the Woodgrove Paws Up Pets Carnival event. We met some of the pet lovers who came down with their furry friends. Don't just take our word for it. Feast your eyes on these photos!

Look her paid a visit to our booth - Sally the Dollface Persian!

A resident playing our jigsaw puzzle game. Some pieces can be a little tricky!

Meet Popeye (his name was inspired by the popular cartoon character!)! He's really, really friendly!

While Mummy kept her focus with our Mix and Match game, her little girl was reading our sign!

Awww...isn't he adorable? He loves our goody pack too!

On our way home, we spotted this cutie~

We had so much fun that day. We would love to do it all over again!

More photos are also available at Woodgrove Paws Up Facebook page. Find them here!

So if you would like us to be part of your event, send us your request form by filling it up right here.

We have all the latest updates right here at our official “A Pet is For Life” Facebook group and follow us on Twitter.

Beat the Monday Blues: Klepto kitty on the mooove!

Ever wondered if those shoes that go missing might not be the work of a human thief? (err...let's not even go near to paranormal activity)

Meet Klepto Kitty, Dusty! A person (or in this case, a cat) with kleptomania is one who steals things obsessively. Like a ninja, watch how this 7-year-old sneaky feline does his work when the neighbourhood's asleep. DO NOT try this at home with your pussycat!

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Pet Adoption Friday: Nia from Action for Singapore Dogs

Name: Nia
Gender: Female
Age: 6 Months Old
Breed: Local Cross
HDB approved: No

Originally from the Neo Tiew area, Nia is one of the four puppies we are working with AVA to rehome.

Nia is very affectionate and extremely good with children. Although she is energetic, she is quite calm and will sit on command and take a treat gently. She is very smart and whines to attract attention when she needs to be let out to do her business. She is quite focused on walks but pulls a little on the leash.

If you are interested in adopting Nia, please contact ASD at 6100 2737 or drop us a line at info@asdsingapore.com.

Do also visit ASD's Facebook page for the latest updates.

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[Event Info] Woodgrove Pets Carnival

Day/Date: Saturday/12 January 2013
Venue: Woodlands Avenue 1, Void deck of Blk 351A and Blk 354A
Time: 10am to 2.30pm

Please click on the banner for more event details!

Come spend your Saturday morning with us at the Woodgrove Pets Carnival! We have exciting goodies to give away when you play our booth activities. Also, we will be giving a talk on Responsible Pet Ownership. Look out for that!

Tickets are at $2 per person. You can get them from Woodgrove Community Centre and all Woodgrove RC Centres. You can also call 6366 9010 for more enquiries.

We hope to see you with your animal friends at this event! It's going to be filled with fun and learning for everyone!

For more details, visit Woodgrove PAWS UP Facebook page.

Don't forget to join us at our A Pet is For Life Facebook group and Twitter.

Pet Care Tips: The sounds of rabbits!

We often hear about dogs barking and cats meowing but do you know that rabbits also produce unique sounds of their own? Some of these can be pretty similar to the other pets. Let's 'hear' what they are!

Growling
When rabbits growl, it could mean that they are not too happy because they are provoked. Be very careful not to agitate them further as they might bite to get you off their backs.

Grinding of teeth
When you stroke the back of your rabbit and you hear him grind his teeth, this is to tell you that he feels happy and enjoys your company.

Soft, quiet 'eeks!'
They seem to be happy when doing it but you might need to put on an extra pair of ears because it is so soft that you can hardly hear it.

Grunting
When a rabbit is hurt or provoked, besides growling, they could also make shorter bursts of grunts.

SCREEEAAAAM!
We hope you will never have to hear your rabbit scream. A high pitched shrill scream means the rabbit is wounded or he's dying. Take action. Bring him to the vet IMMEDIATELY.

Purr-ing
Just like the soft 'eeks', their purring is also really soft and subtle.

Thumping
This sound is produced when a rabbit stomps his hind legs on the ground with a lot of force. It usually means that your bunny senses danger and it is a signal to tell his other bunny friends. Thumping of feet is also a sign of anger.

So the next time you spend time with your bunny, listen out for some of the sounds he makes. If you manage to catch it on video, we would love to hear it! Feel free to share them with us by leaving a comment or tagging us via our Facebook group or Twitter.

It’s okay if you don’t actually own a rabbit. If you’re curious to hear the sounds for yourself, we recommend that you to log on to YouTube!

This information is adapted from Bunny Mama.

Photo from: Too Cute To Handle

Living with Nine Senses

By: Eugene Ko

Ms Cassandra Chiu and Esme

Ever wondered how it feels like to have nine senses? In case you are wondering if the number ‘nine’ was a random number I coined up, no, it is not! The visually handicapped certainly experience nine senses through being together with a guide dog!

What is a guide dog? Think of guide dogs as animal companions that help navigate or direct the visually handicapped around, thus giving the visually handicapped extra five more senses than the average person! Guide dogs are far much more useful than the walking cane. With the cane, a visually handicapped person get around by memorising the route he needs to take to get to his destination but sometimes new objects may be placed along that route, altering the memorised pattern.

These dogs are specially selected and are more than just common pets. Guide dogs are normally Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers as they are intelligent, gentle and hardworking. Training for these dogs also begin as early as when the dog is six weeks old and the costs of training can be more than $50,000! If you are thinking that your pet dog at home can be trained to be a guide dog, we’re sorry to disappoint you!

In Queensland, Australia, 22 guide dogs have already been trained this year and are waiting for matching owners while two guide dogs have already been matched and are undergoing training with their new owners. In comparison, Singapore has only three guide dogs currently. Although Singapore introduced its first guide dog in 1982, it had to be returned due to the lack of approval from authorities. Only in 2005 did Singapore truly start having a permanent guide dog Kendra, owned by Mr Kua Cheng Hock. The recent two additions are Ms Cassandra Chiu and her guide dog Esme and Mr Alvin Ng and his guide dog, Seretta.

Many of us living in Singapore think that humans and dogs are only supposed to be seen in outdoor places such as parks, however, guide dogs are allowed in ALL indoor places. Yes! These include shopping malls, food courts and even on board our public transport. Soon, the government will issue the visually handicapped guide dog owners with a different identity card to smooth out access at malls or restaurants for people like Ms Chiu and Esme.

Having a guide dog in Singapore is not all that rosy. Ms Chiu, owner of Esme was recently turned down when she was at a fashion outlet. As we read in the papers, only when an informed staff intervened then was she allowed to try on her clothes and shop in peace. Mr Kua Cheng Hock also experienced having the Police called in when he tried to board the public bus with his guide dog, Kendra. While we may not know realise but this insensitive gesture of ours is a form of discrimination towards these special group of people and their guide dogs.

Guide dogs are far more useful than the walking cane. With the cane, a visually handicapped person get around by memorising the route he needs to take to get to his destination but sometimes new objects may be placed along that route, altering the memorised pattern. For example, Ms Chiu mentioned that she once got a fractured skull from walking into a lamp post which she claimed was erected overnight! However now with Esme around, she is able to avoid obstacles easier as Esme would help navigate her around the obstacles and even obstruct her whenever Ms Chiu is in danger of walking into an object. Also Ms Chiu noted that the tactile markers placed along roads are sometimes wrong and thus a guide dog is definitely more useful than the walking cane as it gives that extra sense.

Guide dogs are indeed more than just pets to these blind people! First and foremost, they are trusty buddies for the visually handicapped. Off their work harnesses, they become the best of pets for these people and their families. So, let’s help turn Singapore into a friendlier island for our visually handicapped friends and their guide dogs! Some things you can do are:

1. To speak up for the visually handicapped with a guide dog when they are being discriminated

Politely share with the person that a guide dog is more than a pet to the visually handicapped; he’s actually a trusty companion aid and that the law allows guide dogs to be brought into indoor places and eateries.

2. Spread the word around

These days, it is so easy to get a message out to everyone you know! Via your social media platform and amongst your friends, spread the word around that guide dogs are essential for the visually handicapped! This would definitely help raise awareness for guide dogs in Singapore!

We hope that after reading this article you have gained a better understanding of guide dogs!

For more information on guide dogs, do visit these websites!

Guide Dogs Association of the Blind

Association for the Blind of WA (Western Australia)

Guide Dogs Queensland

Photos: Ms Cassandra Chiu and The Existence of Our Natural Environment

Beat the Monday Blues: Backstreet Parrot!

Does anybody remember music from the 90s where girl groups and boy bands reigned supreme? There were a lot of catchy pop tunes that are unforgettable until today. Looks like even our animal friends are hooked onto the infectious songs like the one you are about to hear. Watch a parrot dance (and attempt to sing!) to the music from one of the greatest boybands of all time, the Backstreet Boys!

Have a fantastic week ahead~

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Pet Adoption Friday: Ong, Opi and Jerry from SPCA

Hello there! I'm Jerry the mouse!

Names: Ong, Opi and Jerry
Gender: Males
Species: Mice
Colour: White/Brown/Black
Age: 1 year and 2 months

We have some handsome mice at the SPCA. All boys, who can live alone as male mice tend to fight. These sweeties are fast and expert climbers. Best for older children and adults as they can be injured by rough handling or being dropped. Mice can live happily on hamster food. They are intelligent and very active little critters so good fun to watch clambering about on things in their container. If kept in a cage the bars need to be no more that 1 cm apart as mice can easily escape otherwise. Male mice often smell musky so it's best to keep them with only disposable cardboard tubes to play with that can be thrown away. They will need a running wheel and regular cleaning out, though they're so pretty, tame and sweet that it's worth the little bit of extra effort." Also it's best to keep them singly, they do get lonely so you need to play with them but male mice are prone to fighting between themselves.

If you would like to adopt the boys, please call SPCA’s adoption hotline at 6287 5355 ext 24 or visit the shelter during their opening hours.

Visit SPCA’s website and 'Like' their page on Facebook!

This information is also available on our A Pet is For Life Facebook group. Do also follow us on Twitter.

[Event Info] 2013 Cat Adoption Drives by Cat Welfare Society

Days/Dates: 1st Sunday of Every Month throughout the entire year*
Venue: The Pet Safari @ nex Mall and Vivocity*
Time: 1pm to 6pm

*Please see event poster for a detailed breakdown of the corresponding dates and venues

Starting this Sunday, 6 January 2013, head down to The Pet Safari @ nex Mall for the first Cat Adoption Drive for 2013 by Cat Welfare Society.

All throughout this year, you will get to meet some adorable cats and kittens and if you wish to give them a home, this is your opportunity to do so!

Potential adopters will be screened for suitability and commitment. Successful adopters will each receive an exclusive starter kit worth $50!

For more information, visit Cat Welfare Society's Facebook page.

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Pet Care Tips: It's paws-ible to keep clean!

It's a brand new year! Last week, we shared with you some resolution ideas for all the dog owners. This week, we turn the spotlight on our feline friends and we would like to zoom in on a very important part of their body - their paws. Unlike us humans that walk on our heels, cats walk on the balls of their feet and fingertips. Cats use their paws for many purposes. One of which is for territorial marking. There are glands on their paws that secrete an oil-like substance which has a unique scent. If you have not been taking care of your kitty's paws, it's about time you should!

1) Keep her paws clean!
It starts with keeping your own house clean. The surfaces where she comes in contact with at home has to be kept clean so that dirt, litter or household chemicals would not stick to her paws. This could be harmful to her as she licks herself during grooming. You could also give a gentle wipe to her paws and between the toes at least once a day using a damp cloth. Top it off by applying a suitable vet-approved moisturiser to protect her paws.

2) Check! Check and Check again!
Cats are curious by nature. As a rule of thumb, always check their paws regularly for any cuts, sores or splinters to make sure that they are free of wounds and infections. If you find any splinters or debris, gently remove them with tweezers and clean any small cuts. However, if you notice any blood, pus or an unusual odor, please take your cat to the vet for medical attention.

3) Meow-nicure
Before you start trimming the nails of your kitty, you must treat her like royalty. Gently massage her paws so as to get her used to the feeling of being touched. When you see that she is calm, you can start trimming her nails but keep in mind to always be careful! If you are not confident about doing it, you can always bring her to the groomer's.

4) No-No to declaw!
Declawing is a surgery that involves the amputation of the end of a cat’s toes which causes a lot of pain during recovery period. To satisfy the need to scratch, provide your kitty with a scratching post and keep her nails trimmed regularly.

5) Read the signs!
Always observe your cat's body language. If you see that your cat cleans her paws obsessively or limping, take action and bring her to the vet.

For more information, visit ASPCA's and Catster websites

Image from Catster

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