Question: Dr. Kevin Doolittle, what kind of food should I feed my dog and cat? Dr. Kevin Doolittle: That's simple, dog and cat food. No really, all humor aside, there is an important aspect to what you should feed your dog or cat. Your best bet is to go for a premium dog or cat food. These usually have a meat product as the first ingredient instead of a corn base product or "filler." Ask your local petstore associate about some of the premium brands and not the grocery store types. Q: Dear Dr. Kevin Doolittle, what is a good first pet for a child? Dr. Kevin Doolittle: A pet rock. Actually, it's true. Depending on the age of the child, most children are not mature enough to care for any animal properly by themselves. And no, goldfish in a bowl are poor life for the goldfish. I believe pets for children are a great idea to teach them about responsibility only if the parent is there to aid the child to care for the animal, without it having to suffer. Children learn by example, so if you take part in the beginning and supervise your childs progress for caring for the animal , then it is a good decision. With that understood, after doing some serious homework on care for any particular animal, rats actually make great pets. They're smart and allow for the child to interact with them. Other than that a tank of cheap feeder guppies are a great starter for fish tanks. They breed easily and can teach your child about the circle of life in nature. Q: Dr. Kevin Doolittle, what are your thoughts about getting a water turtle? They're so cute! Dr. Kevin Doolittle: Remember now, that we are living in the Information Age. Biology, Ecology, Zoology, etc., are trying to educate society the proper ways to care for animals. A slab of concrete and metal bars don't do any animal justice. Turtles in a ten gallon fish tank, filled with water is horrible. Water turtles are fine as pets, but only if you are willing to provide the means for them to live in a healthy environment. I told a customer once that if they wanted to buy a water turtle starting from scratch, expect to be leaving the store with ~$200-$300 less in their wallet. Now I'm not saying I'm against having a pet water turtle (most common being red-ear sliders), but know what you are getting into. After that, enjoy the learning experience of having a pet water turtle. Q: Dr. K. Doolittle, my hamster is actively loud at night. What can I do to make him more quiet? Dr. Kevin Doolittle: Wear some ear plugs. Well, you should know by now that hamsters are nocturnal mammals. Night time is when they are active and do their thing. Now being a responsible owner, your hamster should have a wheel which is probably making the noise. Use some type of vegetable oil to lubricate the hinges for the wheel. Never use any house hold chemicals for any small animals, for it could make them ill or worse. Try getting an exercise ball for your hamster and let him run around in that when he wakes up before you go to bed. That might help a little. Don't forget that hamsters have been recorded for traveling up to 7 miles worth of running around in a single night! Q: Dr. Fishman Doolittle, I hear you're a fish expert. How much should I feed my fish? Dr. Kevin Doolittle: Ichthyologist is the term and I wish I was. No, I'm just an advanced hobbyist. Feeding your fish of course depends on the species, but a general rule for feeding aquarium pet fish is what ever they can consume in about 3-4 minutes. Any more and the food could just spoil and decompose in your water. Feeding your fish once a day is usually sufficient, especially if you are on vacation and have someone watching your fish for you. But if you can feed them twice a day without over feeding, that would be nicer for your fish. Some times, if fed small amounts (like what they could consume in less than a minute) fish breeders will feed their fish 3-4 times a day. Q: Dear Dr. Phil, I don't know how to raise my kids right. Can you help? Oh yeah, I'm fat too. Any suggestions? Dr. Kevin Doolittle: Uh? Sorry you got the wrong guy. Opening the Good Book and then getting some guidance should help for both of your problems though. Just a thought. Q: Dear Dr. Doolittle, I saw some beautiful macaw parrots today at a local petshop. Parrots are such beautiful and intelligent creatures. I was thinking of getting one. What do you recommend I should do to start off? Dr. Kevin Doolittle: Well, I have conflicting thoughts about owning any bird species, although I am not dead-set against it. See, birds were created by God to fly...with a few exceptions. When humans obtain these birds and put them in a cage, it goes against everything a bird is programmed to do. That is why so many of your larger pet birds, such as any parrot species, have many social and behavioral problems. Feather picking, psychotic behavior, aggressiveness, etc., are all common features that can arise with a good deal of frequency since many parrot owners are not educated to what their birds' needs are. Anyone thinking about getting any parrot species should only get one fully knowing and accepting the fact that they are going to be essentially caring for a young child the rest of its life. Want to go on vacation? Don't think you can just lock the bird up and leave the house. Birds such as Cockatoos, Amazons, Macaws, etc., need to be cared for everyday. I recommend going to a professional breeder and taking classes before deciding on a parrot. Otherwise, if I was to own a bird, I'd get a parakeet (aka budgie) or a cockatiel. After that, I'd design a huge aviary for parrots where they could fly and become more of a display than an actually pet.