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A sign of problems in birds

Feather picking in birds is often attributed to boredom, but it can also signal other problems. Medical causes can include allergies, parasitic infections, bacterial infections, abnormal growths in the feather follicle and vitamin deficiencies. Homes with low humidity can also contribute. Many birds come from extremely humid environments, and dry air can cause them to feather-pick. Feather picking is often an outlet for stress. Some birds exhibit feather-damaging behavior when they are seeking attention or are upset by something that has happened to them. Take your feather picker to a veterinarian as soon as you notice the problem to rule out medical or nutritional problems. If your bird gets a clean bill of health, seek advice from an avian behavior expert.

Finding a lost dog

Is your dog lost? Dog tracker Babs Fry of Jamul, Calif., started a nonprofit organization, A Way Home for Dogs, that offers free tracking and recovery advice to help people find missing pets. Fry says she receives up to 50 calls a day from people in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Her website,, shares success stories as well as tips for finding lost dogs. Her best tips: Contact dog shelters immediately, post fliers, share photos and information about the dog on social media to alert the community, and advise people not to chase the dog.

Marked by scent

Cats use scent to identify what belongs to them, and their "belongings" include their people. Sebaceous glands attached to their hair follicles play a role in the feline territory-marking system by secreting sebum, a scent marker. These glands are largest and most numerous on the cat's lips, chin, base of the tail and scrotum. When your cat rubs up against you or a piece of furniture, she's claiming you as her own.