Grant Morris / It's New Orleans

Last year Americans spent over $55 billion on their pets. To put that in some sort of perspective, that's more than most countries in the world spend on their military.

In New Orleans, Zeus' Place is one of a number of 21st Century pet boarding and day care facilities where pets are treated somewhere between kindergarten kids and rest home residents, with activities, walks, naps and even their own apartment. Michelle Ingram, founder and owner.

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The Lafourche Parish Council is taking up a measure aimed at regulating the ownership of pit bulls in the parish.

The Courier reports the measure would require pit bull owners to have special permits. The council will consider the measure today and will take a vote on May 13.

Councilman John Arnold is authoring the legislation and said he wants owners to agree to nurture their dog in a "responsible" manner.

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We don't speak the same language as our pets. But it's amazing what they can communicate with their actions if we really observe them.

Recently, a Great Dane/Shepherd mix kept running from his owner's home. He showed up at our shelter several times over the course of a few months. He desperately wanted exercise and wasn't neutered. Running away was the only way he could express his frustration. Ultimately, his owner grew weary of paying fines to redeem him, and this lucky dog ended up neutered and placed in a new home with an attentive owner.

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Older animals are often overlooked in shelters across the country. This a huge loss for animals and humans. Older pets make excellent companions.

Pets are defined as "older" when they've reached approximately two-thirds of their life expectancy. A standard poodle, for example, has an average lifespan of 12 years. So at 8, he or she is ready to become a card-carrying member of the AARP — that's the American Association of Retired Pets. 

Kate Richardson

We all know that hydration is a key to good health. The same goes for our pets.

Like humans, an adult dog's body is comprised of about 60 percent water. For cats it's about 67 percent. When a dog loses just 10 percent of its body's fluids, bodily functions shut down; a 15 percent loss can be fatal. Cats tolerate dehydration a little better than dogs, but a loss of 20 percent can be fatal.

There's no set amount of water that your pet should drink in one day. But a good rule of thumb is that animals should take in about two and a half times more water than food per day.

Kate Richardson

Adopting a new pet is easy. But naming it can be a real challenge.

You'll be using the name several times a day to socialize and train your pet, so there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Studies have found that our pets respond better to one or two syllable names. So it's safe to say that Ditto Dippin' Dots may not work.

Avoid names like Joe, for example, which sound very close to "no." The same goes for Sid, which has the same sound as "sit."

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When I step out my front door, the first thing I usually see is a feral cat soaking up the sun. Some may view community cats as a nuisance, but these unique felines actually play an important role in the city.

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My friend Cynthia was driving home one evening when she saw what she thought was a helmet in the middle of the road. But when the helmet began to move she quickly hit the brakes. It was a turtle — a box turtle to be exact.

She wanted to release the turtle into a body of water, but a friend informed her that they can’t swim and if completely submerged in water they’ll drown.

Karli Young

My friends Joe and Karli recently relocated to Spain with their three cats in tow. As they prepared for the move, they quickly discovered that transporting pets internationally can be quite a production.

There are a few basic requirements for traveling abroad with companion animals. Your vet can provide health certificates and proof of rabies vaccinations. Some countries also require mandatory quarantine periods for animals before allowing them in.

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Let's play Jeopardy!. These four-legged animals need daily interaction with humans, lack survival instincts to live in the wild, are easily frightened by children, and love to chew on electric cords.

What are... rabbits!

A large number of rabbits end up in animal shelters every year because owners underestimate the time and care required to maintain them. But it's not all work and responsibility. One upside to rabbits is that they can actually be litter box trained, just like cats!