Animal House

Laura Kennedy invites experts to share their tips on caring for your pets.

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A mysterious fungal disease is impacting wild and captive snakes in at least 15 states.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

One great way to help kids get more excited about reading is to pair them off with a furry pal.

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Your cat may have a genetic disease -- there's no avoiding it in some felines.  But there are steps you can take to help your cat battle back against genes.

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When you get a dog, the canine  comes preloaded with fur, tail wags and love.  Oh, and the possibility of a tricky genetic problem.

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Before you head out to work each morning, spare a thought for your pet, spending hours and hours home alone, lonely and bored.

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We train our dogs to do obedience commands to keep them safe and to make sure they're good canine citizens.  Tricks, however, are the gravy of training -- not necessary, but very nice.  But it's not always easy to teach a dog, old or otherwise, a new trick.

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One of the joys of the holidays is decking your home with festive decor.  But those treasured decorations could pose a problem for the family pet.  Dr. Matt Fraker, from the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center, has some advice.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Looking to venture into reptile ownership?  A good place to start is with a corn snake -- a great animal for the first-time snake owner.

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You can put hours and hours of training into a dog, and still the loveable canine will occasionally misbehave. So what gives?  What does it mean when dogs seem to forget their training to free range their behavior? 

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Acne is not just for teenagers.  It can develop on cats, as well.  It's a surprisingly common feline skin disorder that's a component of a much larger syndrome of complex feline allergic skin diseases, said  Dr. Matt Fraker from the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center in Normal.  

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While you're lining up flu vaccinations for yourself and your family, don't forget about the furry members of your family.  The highly contagious canine flu that's infected thousands of dogs, leading to some deaths, is expected to return this season.  This time, forewarned is forearmed, said Dr. Matt Fraker from the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center in Normal.  You can take steps to protect your pet from H3N2.

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Montreal has enacted a new breed-specific legislation in response to a recent deadly pit bull attack in the city. A 55-year old woman was mauled to death by a dog that was described as a pit bull.  Officers shot and killed the animal, and the tragedy has spurred the city into action.  

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

We've gone far beyond just ordinary kibble when we feed our pets.  There's ample options out there, but could there be danger lurking within the list of ingredients?  Laura Kennedy has more in this edition of Animal House.

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One of the most common eye problems for dogs is cataracts, which can impact canines of all ages and breeds and be brought on by disease, old age and trauma.  While cataracts are not painful, they can lead to even worse eye problems, such as eye loss, said Dr. Matt Fraker from the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center in Normal 

Marian Willitts

There are many, many animal rescue groups that help cats, dogs and other domestic animals find a home.  Fewer still are the rescue groups that help farm animals find sanctuary.  In central Illinois, there's KARA, Kickapoo Animal Rescue Alliance, a place where domestic and farm animals can find sanctuary in a no kill shelter. 

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Committing to a pet is a major thing, so sometimes it's best to ramp it up with a furry friend that's personable without being too demanding.  A great starter pet is the fun, furry guinea pig.

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Does your dog hound you for hot dogs? Does your cat crave milk? You put a lot of thought into the pet foods you buy your furry friends, and you should be just as careful about the people food you share with them.  Dr. Matt Fraker from the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center said there's some people food that should definitely be off-the-menu when it comes to your pets.

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The 4th of July holiday brings a lot of fun -- from parades, to barbecues, to fireworks displays.  But while the fireworks may be thrilling to you, they can produce an entirely different reaction in your dog.

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Pets can be like M&M's.  It's hard to have just one. 

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Summer hasn't even officially begun and it's already blazing hot and humid in central Illinois.  Temperatures in the 90's can take their toll on everyone -- including our pets.  When it comes to our furry pals, high temperatures can be dangerous -- even deadly.

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We love our pets.  But we don't always do what's right for them.  In fact, sometimes what we do can lead to disastrous results.  There's six very common health mistakes we make with our pets, said veterinarian Matt Fraker from the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center.

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If any reptile was ready for its close up, it's the iguana.  But are you ready for this critter?

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Adopting an exotic bird can be an adventure that's not for everyone.

Humane Society of Central Illinois

The new Development Director of the Humane Society of Central Illinois hopes to help the organization achieve new heights.

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A new nemesis has returned to put your dog's life at risk.  

Indy-Pendence Service Dog Organization

For thousands of years, mankind has trained dogs for all sorts of useful service from herding livestock to guarding security zones.  More recently, dogs have been trained to help those with disabilities or health issues, enhancing  independence with their reliable assistance.  Laura Kennedy has more on this edition of Animal House about a central Illinois group that is training dogs for a better future.

*Steven Wright and Marie Koch are president and vice president of Indy-Pendence Service Dog Organization at Illinois State University.

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You likely have a first aid kit in your home for yourself and your family.  So how about one for your pets, too?  It's a good idea, but you've got to put some thought into what you'll include.  Dr. Matt Fraker from Prairie Oak Veterinary Center in Normal has some suggestions to help you help your pet.

*The most important item in your pet's first aid kit is your veterinarians' phone number.  If you're at all unsure about a health issue with your pet, first call your vet for advice.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

It can be Shark Week all year long at your house if you add a freshwater shark to your fish tank.  And you won't need a bigger boat with the freshwater shark. These small cousins to the ocean-going variety bring the shark sensibility to your aquarium, without the danger.

*Fresh water sharks are actually a sort of catfish bottom feeder.  

*They can be territorial to other shark species.  

*If the tank is not crowded and there's plenty of food for all, the shark is sweet and easy-going.

*They can live for up to five years and come in many colors.

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A troubling problem among animal rescue groups is challenging them to overcome a particular prejudice that can have deadly consequences for animals up for adoption. Learn more in our regular series, Animal House.

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You want your home to be a comfortable, welcoming place.  Well, it can be hard to achieve that if the place reeks of cat pee...or dog poo...or barf.  But don't despair -- there's plenty you can do about it!