Business Digest - March, 2013

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Making Small Spaces Bigger   Green Living Tip  Theo & Sallie Jo 

Water Safety for Spring

As the weather warms up, so do the potential hazards of water. Children will soon be spending more time outdoors and will still encounter the dangers of water in the home. More than half of drownings among children under the age of one occur in bathtubs. Small children this age can also drown in the very small amounts of water found in toilets and buckets. In fact, of all the children between the ages of seven months and fifteen months who have drowned since 1984, almost 90 percent have died from accidents involving five gallon buckets. These buckets are found in many households and are commonly used for cleaning and mopping.

To keep your child from becoming a victim, never leave your child unsupervised near any type of water. Both standing and moving water can be hazardous, and children can easily drown in as little as three or four inches of water. An adult should supervise your child at all times.

Children should also be supervised at all times when bathing or using the toilet. Shower doors and toilet seats should be closed when not in use. Better yet, keep your bathroom door closed. Take care to empty all buckets immediately when you are done using them. Always store buckets upside down. Check your child's outdoor environment before he or she begins to play. Empty any water out of buckets, garbage cans, wheelbarrows, or flower pots. By taking these simple precautions, you can help keep your child safe from these common water hazards.

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Making Small Spaces Bigger

Living in a small home can be challenging. While you usually cannot make your rooms larger, there are some strategies you can utilize to make them seem bigger than they are. Here are some space-enhancing ideas.

Get rid of any clutter and unnecessary items in your rooms. This is perhaps the best way to make a room feel more spacious. Too many items in a room inhibit the eye from expanding out to the perimeter of the room and make it feel small and too full.

Using a monochromatic color scheme in your room can also make it feel larger. You can use several tints of the same color to add some variety. You can also use your furnishings to enhance the size of your rooms. While you should not fill your room with many large pieces, you don't have to settle for lots of scaled-down furniture either. One well-designed prominent piece can add character and personality to a room. Try placing it at an angle and allow some space around it. It is not necessary to place all of your furniture along the wall of your room, with each piece touching each other. By emphasizing the spacing between furniture pieces, you can trick the eye into seeing the room as larger.

The creative use of mirrors can also benefit a small room. Place a large mirror across from a window to increase the amount of light in a room. It will also reflect the outdoors into your room. Several mirrors can be placed together in a grouping on one wall, in a random pattern. You can also make use of glass in your furnishings to open up a space. Glass topped dining tables, accent tables, or work desks give an illusion of spaciousness.

Finally, try to buy furniture that is multi-functional. A dining table with fold-away leaves allows you to only use room space when you need it. A tall entertainment center can store home entertainment equipment as well as books, blankets, and more. You can also find headboards that double as bookshelves and ottomans or chests that offer storage space. Remember that it may take several experiments with furniture placement to find the best use of your individual space.

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Green Living Tip

A dirty oven is more inefficient than a clean oven. But cleaning an oven can be a taxing chore. If you are in the market for a new oven, be sure to look for one with a self-clean setting. Self-cleaning ovens are more energy efficient because they are so well insulated. Be sure to use the self-cleaning setting no more than once a month. The self-cleaning setting uses a great deal of energy, so try to set it right after using your oven, while it is still retaining heat.

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Theo & Sallie Jo

Keeping Your Older Dog Healthy

At around eight years of age, dogs begin to show some signs of age-related changes in health. While some of these are avoidable, you can help your dog to stay healthy and active, even into old age.

One of the most important things you can do is realize that when your dog gets older, he needs a change in diet. For small breeds, that change may begin at age seven, but larger breeds need a change in diet even earlier, beginning at five years of age. You should talk to your veterinarian about the necessary changes in diet for your dog.

Some senior diets for dog have reduced levels of protein, but studies have shown that this is not the best choice. Protein levels do not contribute to the development of disease, so you should be feeding your older dog a diet that contains good levels of highly digestible protein. This helps maintain muscle mass and energy levels. Dogs also begin to put on body fat as they age, due to a change in their metabolism and a decrease in activity level. A good diet for an older dog has a decrease calorie level, while still maintaining optimal levels of protein.

A good diet for a senior dog should include an increase in GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid, and FOS, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Your dog should also get higher levels of antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene.

Finally, remember that regular exercise is a must for good health as your dog ages. Changes in your dog's daily routine can cause stress, so make any changes in daily activity gradually.

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Taming the Cost of Pet Ownership

Last year, Americans spent almost $53 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. In fact, the average dog owner spends about $1,250 each year on veterinary visits, food, treats, boarding, travel expenses, and grooming.

But there are ways to cut costs without compromising the care of your animal friends. Keep these tips in mind to save you some bucks.

Pick pet food carefully.

It is true that high-quality food can save you money in the long run, as your pet will be healthier throughout his or her lifetime. But there is a lot of hype in the pet food industry. There are many boutique brands of pet food that do not offer any increased benefits, but cost more than other brands. Your best bet is to choose food from a trusted manufacturer that lists animal protein high on the list of ingredients. Once you've settled on a type of food, watch for sales and coupons and stock up when you can. You should also avoid overfeeding. Discuss the proper amount of food needed by your pet with your vet. You will save now on pet food purchases and in the long run by avoiding obesity in your pet.

Get regular check-ups.

While it can be expensive to visit the vet regularly, it pays off in the long run. Getting the proper vaccines and screening for health problems early can help prevent large vet bills in the future. Be sure to shop around for veterinary services as well. You may be able to cut your vet costs by calling around and comparing prices among vets near you.

Consider pet insurance.

If you know that, no matter what, you will do anything to help your pet in the event of medical emergency, then pet insurance is for you. If you don't have insurance, you will be faced with large bills and the possibility of not being able to continue care if your funds run out. Alternatively, if you are disciplined about saving money, you can set up a separate saving account for pet care. That money will then be available to you whenever you need it.

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Last modified: March 18, 2013