Sunday, May 6, 2001

I have had enough pets in my lifetime to open a small zoo. Ducks, chickens, rabbits, hamsters, goldfish, cats and dogs all have been friends of the family. Of course, with pet ownership comes great responsibility, especially to keep the pets healthy and happy. Once again, the information superhighway offers numerous helpful sites.

A site developed by two veterinarians attracts more than 13,000 visitors a day and focuses on man´s numerous best buddies, giving information on the proper care, feeding and maintenance of almost any domesticated

Site address:

Creator: was developed and is funded by veterinarians Dr. Race Foster and Dr. Marty Smith, co-owners of Drs. Foster & Smith Inc. in Rhinelander, Wis.

Creator quotable:

Word from the Webwise:

One easy way to celebrate National Pet Week (today through May 12) is to spend time at and learn as much as possible about the animals sharing one´s life.

A portion of the site concentrates on “Focus Topic” primers that range in scope from “Caring for Your Aging Pet” to “Winter and Holiday Hazards.”

Visitors will find numerous encyclopedic presentations with an emphasis on cats and dogs but also including a nice selection of creature features on turtles, chinchillas and iguanas and a recently added roundup on ferrets.

The 1,500 articles all are written by veterinarians and pet experts in a given field, and the doctors say they constantly update content to ensure the latest findings in veterinary medicine.

In addition, every article has its own reference list of books and journals. Most of articles are written by Dr. Foster, Dr. Smith or the three veterinarians on their staff.

The site emphasizes “Dogs,” “Puppies, “Cats, “Vet & Lab Procedures,” “Drugs & Nutraceuticals,” “Alternative & Holistic Medicine,” “Human-Animal Bond” and “Exotic Small Animals,” with each presenting well-rounded, above-and-beyond explanations on hundreds of topics.

For example, a stop by “Vet & Lab Procedures” explains how vets can assess dehydration in animals, while “Puppies” examines how to select a new dog for the family, including information on choosing a healthy pup and finding the right dog breeder and a look at adopting from a shelter.

I particularly enjoyed the section “Cases From Our Clinic,” offering eight true stories on the fun of working in a veterinary office. One tale featured Captain Hook, the Wonder Cat, who was brought to the clinic near death, with his left feet severed. Not only did the animal survive, but he learned to walk on his two right legs and became the office mascot. also can enlighten with an incredible array of “I didn´t know that” facts that pop up all over. While quickly rummaging through the pages, I learned lilies are toxic to cats and guinea pigs lack the enzyme to make vitamin C, so they need a supplement each day.

Other parts of the site worth exploring include a medical dictionary, an enormous pharmaceutical library, pet quizzes, an online store and voluminous disease description areas.

Ease of use: works effectively in part because of its search engine, combined with megalists of linked articles. A search for feline diabetes quickly returned 10 primary articles (274 in total) along with access to an introductory primer that had links to seven more specific topics.

The site is updated daily, and 30 new articles are added every month, a good reason to visit frequently. This primarily text-based cyber-nugget makes owning a pet a much more pleasurable experience.

Don’t miss:

Visitors hoping to enjoy this time of the year with their pet should carefully peruse the front-page addition, “Springtime Into Prevention Mode.” Here, hours´ worth of reading can be found regarding allergies, parasites, pet population control, grooming, intestinal diseases and going on vacation without a pet.

Overall grade: A

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it´s accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician. Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (

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