Although June is drawing to a close, this week is still a great time to remind pet parents that the month highlights the importance of being prepared for an emergency, not only for you and your human family, but also for your four-footed family members. June is Pet Preparedness Month, and whether the disaster is flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, or other natural calamities, being prepared is critical.
The federal government provides a website regarding preparedness and pets. Visit https://www.ready.gov/animals to learn about making an emergency plan for you and your pet, creating a shelter for your animal, and caring for your furry friend after an emergency.
The primary tip to get you started with emergency pet preparedness is to create a bag or pack (known as an “evac-pack"). Here are some of the things you should have in that “go-bag:”
The ASPCA provides further information on evac-packs as well as gives more disaster preparedness information. Visit their website at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness to learn more.
Additionally, AKC Reunite offers opportunity for county emergency management officials to obtain trailers to help pets during a disaster. Sadly, many states do not have a disaster relief trailer yet, especially those west of the Mississippi. Last year, my community received one of these important vehicles, the first and only one in the state; read the story here: http://casperjournal.com/community/article_02aad1db-1ae5-53d5-a5b8-b0822782a248.html
As rain falls, tornadoes and hurricanes break out, and wildland fires begin to crop up, let all of us who are pet parents think of our furry children as we plan for emergency situations.
Many people enjoy having more than one pet in the household, but adding another animal can come with challenges. Some dogs are more domineering than others, yet you don’t want an overly aggressive dog who won’t allow your second canine friend to eat or play with the toys. And, if you have cats, you’d like to see your feline friends get along. Or, if you have a mixture of dogs and cats, you’d prefer the dog not aggravate or chase the cat… or the cat to constantly swatch and scratch the pup. Just like blending human families, blending a furry family can take a great deal of patience and a lot of time. Be prepared to work with your animals in order to experience harmony in your home.
We had a dog named Cody, a cocker spaniel we adopted from our local humane society in 2008. He was wonderful with our blind springer spaniel, Sage, but she took more time to acclimate to Cody living with us. And, Cody was terror for our two cats. We didn’t properly introduce Cody and the cats, and for several weeks, even into a second month of living with us, Cody chased the cats every time he saw them. Finally, one of our kitties had enough and she swatted his face. That’s all it took and the chasing ceased. It was still another month before harmony set in but it did happen.
After Sage passed, we waited another year to obtain another dog, and this time we chose one who had been around, and therefore, was good with, both dogs and cats. Mary became our next dog, adopted in 2013, and she and the kitties get along wonderfully!
Cody passed away in January 2016. In October, I brought home a small Pekinese mix named Lemmons, again from our local humane society. He had not been around cats, but the shelter staff “tested” him by taking him into the cat room; Lemmons behaved well. And, when I brought him home I introduced him properly to the cats, taking things slowly and having them sniff each other through closed doors. All seemed to be going well. Then, the day I let Lemmons and our cat Murphy near each other, he lunged for the back of her neck. Too much trauma and drama, so I decided he would do best in a home without cats. He had also snapped at Mary a few times. Lemmons was later re-homed through the humane society with someone who had no other pets and to my knowledge, he’s doing much better in that setting. And, my household is harmonious once again.
Sometimes blending furry ones into one household doesn’t work and a person must make the decision that is best for all animals (and humans) of the household. There is the right home for that animal; it just might not be yours.
As my husband and I once again consider adopting another dog – Mary is lonely as the only dog in the house; she had a smaller pup friend in the household before ours and then of course, she had Cody when she first came to live with us – we will once again seek a smaller dog that has been in a multi-pet home. We are hoping to find our next furry friend later this year, possibly another Cocker Spaniel, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a Bichon Frise, or a Shih Tzu. Each breed is different, in personality, in activity level, and in requirements, just as people are different. So, I’m studying, I’m asking questions, I’m researching. Petfinder.com is a great way to find a new furry friend and the various rescues and shelters in my region are also excellent organizations to contact.
If you’re looking for a feline or canine companion, visit your local rescues and shelters and check out Petfinder as well. Just remember that blending a furry family takes time and patience so do your homework first for the right breed and the right individual.
June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, a time to bring to light the millions of cats who are in need of homes. Because spring and early summer are considered “kitten season,” a time when thousands more cats and kittens need care and new homes, animal shelters and rescues across the country designate June as Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month.
Here is a short list of things you can do to help, whether or not you can adopt:
By helping organizations that help cats, whether it’s through actual adoption, by volunteering, through community education, or by donating funds and supplies, you are helping cats in need during this special time of year.
Science has proven that having a pet has many health benefits for people, including lowering one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Some of that is attributed to walking and other exercise activities with a dog. But, what about cats? Does living with a cat benefit a person?
The answer is YES! According to PetMD’s daily Vet Blog, owning a cat also has health benefits. Those include reducing stress levels and blood pressure, which can also help reduce cardiovascular disease. Having a cat can also reduce the risk of depression. Having a furry companion eases loneliness and helps a person unwind and decompress after a rough day at work or school. Cats provide special companionship, and though they tend to be more loners than dogs, cats are also affectionate and playful, helping people not feel so alone and helping them be active, even if it’s just tossing a ball or a catnip mouse across the room. In fact, cat companionship seems especially beneficial to people who live alone or are widowed.
Additionally, a 20-year study found that people who live with cats were 40% least likely to die from a heart attack, and cat owners visit doctors 12% less frequently than non-cat-owners.
Although some people are allergic to cats, exposure to dander and fur in the house can “result in increased resistance to allergens, decreasing risk for allergies and asthma,” according to Health Fitness Revolution.com.
A psychological study showed that children who grow up with pets, including cats, tend to have greater compassion, empathy, and higher self-esteem.
Two different friends have added cats to their homes in the past few years. One adopted an adult male cat, the other obtained a female kitten. Both agree the benefits of companionship, laughter, and relaxation and much more come with living with a cat.
A cuddle with your kitty, a purring lap sitter, or a frisky game of chase the feather chases away the blues and provides fun and laughter. A cat is a wonderful companion, and in its unspoken way benefits a pet parent in a variety of ways.
So, hug your kitty today … and if you don’t have one or are thinking of adding another to your home, adopt one today! June is Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month, a great time to consider adding a feline friend to your family – there are millions in need of homes, and you can be one of those life-saving heroes. Both you and the cat will benefit.
Face it: Pets cost money, just like human kids, and the adults in the family must work to take care of them (well, the vast majority of us do). So, we leave our furry friends home alone for hours on end. Although our pets may not have the adventures of those in the movie “The Secret Life of Pets,” oftentimes our furry companions get lonely, and sometimes they become destructive.
What’s a working pet parent to do? Here are a few suggestions:
Cats can jump gates and aren’t likely to stay in one room unless you close the door – and then who knows what you’ll come home to? Therefore, confining them isn’t the ideal. Instead consider these thoughts:
Cats sometimes also suffer from separation anxiety; Thundershirts are also available for them!
Other ideas to help keep your pet from being too lonely or bored include leaving the TV or radio on with soft, soothing music, and hiring a pet sitter or taking your furry friend to daycare; Rover.com, Care.com, and CatVacay can assist in finding a good sitter or daycare facility.
Find more ideas about keeping your pets from being too lonely or bored by visiting these websites:
I wrote a blog post earlier this year regarding keeping our pets healthy by feeding them quality food. Whether you’re just adopting a new pet or you have lived with your furry friend for many years, proper nutrition is a good way to ensure a healthy pet. Since that post back in January, I’ve been approached by a few pet food reviewing sites with added information; therefore, I’m re-posting part of that article and adding some information they provided.
Obesity in pets, like humans, is on the rise. Activity, or lack thereof, plays a role; so does food. Additionally, pet food and treat recalls are, sadly, very common. The ingredients in pet food has become more and more questionable, especially for products made outside of the United States; however, even pet food and treats made in the USA have problems. Purina, a well-known company based in St. Louis, Missouri, had a large class-action lawsuit brought against it in 2015, and Diamond, which has incorporated many small brands, experienced many recalls, including a large one in 2012. How can we as pet owners ensure our beloved animals are receiving quality nutrition? By reading research.
The website HerePup recently posted a review of dog food brands. The article includes other important, relevant information, such as what foods dogs should and should not eat, best types of foods for specific diets and health issues, and dog foods for specific dog breeds. You may find this information very helpful since the post is from earlier this month: https://herepup.com/dog-food/
In March 2017, Reviews.com updated a report from the previous year regarding dog food brands, interviewing pet owners and food researchers. In that report, they listed dog food brands that they believe provide the best nutrition and have the safest ingredients. Although lengthy, the report is filled with important information for dog owners. I discovered that a brand recommended by my veterinarian for my allergy-afflicted dog is NOT on the list; in fact, that brand, Royal Canin, was cut from the “good quality” list because of the ingredients. Other often vet-recommended foods, such as Hills Science Diet, was also on the “naughty list.” Two foods which are sold at one of my local pet supply stores, one at which I worked part-time several years ago, is on the “nice list;” those foods are Fromm and Nature’s Logic. I will likely explore these brands as options for my dog. Read the entire report at this website: http://www.reviews.com/dog-food/.
Reviews.com also produced an updated report regarding top-quality cat food. The researchers analyzed the ingredients of 1,700 cat food formulas and examined more than 100 brands. They came up with a list of top 10 cat foods, all from different companies. They eliminated foods with artificial ingredients, preservatives, and dyes. Once again, Royal Canin made the “naughty list” as did many others, including Natural Balance, Purina, Meow Mix, and Iams. Read this important report and learn what brands were given top ratings and why at this website: http://www.reviews.com/cat-food/.
Although many of the top brands of dog and cat food are higher priced than Purina or other grocery store-type foods, if your pet experiences health issues, such as kidney failure, due to ingredients in its food, what savings are you gaining should you incur high veterinary bills? Or worse, your pet dies?
Giving our pets quality nutrition is as important for their health as us eating good food is for our own health. Consider these reports and reviews to help you select the best food for your best furry friend!
Animal shelters and pet rescue groups throughout the country take in numerous pets every year. In fact, statistics show that nearly seven million animals enter humane societies, SPCAs, and animal shelters every year; nearly half are killed due to lack of space and low adoption numbers. However, for people who do adopt, there's a plethora of animals from which to choose and so the questions: Which type – dog, cat, guinea pig, rabbit, reptile? What breed or kind? How old? How do you choose the right pet for yourself?
Here are five ideas:
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) provides a list of pros and cons to adding a pet to your home. They offer tips and guidelines for those considering adopting a dog, a cat, a hamster, a guinea pig, a rabbit, or having a fish. View these tips, and other important pet information, at the organization's website: https://www.aspca.org/adopt/adoption-tips/right-pet-you.
So, which pet is the right one? The one that is right for you!
Summer is approaching, and in many parts of the U.S. the season has already arrived, with highs in the 90s and above. Spring and summer warmth can impact our pets, in big and small ways, including tiny, pesky pests.
Fleas and ticks can cause significant irritation and great harm to our dogs and cats. According to Web MD, fleas, though tiny, can eat 15 times their own weight in blood, causing anemia in a dog or cat. Fleas cause itching and are known to be the most common cause of skin disease in dogs and cats. Ticks can bring Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever not only to humans, but to our pets as well.
During the nicer weather of spring and summer, many of our animals spend more time outside. Running through grass, exploring woodlands, and encountering other pets while outdoors can bring your dog or cat into contact with fleas and ticks. And your pets can bring these pesky critters into your home. But, you can restrain that exposure.
A myriad of preventive programs can curb these pests, and therefore, decrease a pet parent's worry. Talk with your veterinarian about how to prevent fleas and ticks from infecting and affecting your dog or cat. You can purchase preventive measures from your vet directly or from a local pet supply store and even online. You may also want to consult the Pet MD website for more information on fleas and ticks, which includes a Flea and Tick Survival Guide: http://www.petmd.com/flea-tick-survival-guide#.
Learn more about fleas and ticks and their impact on pets at http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-flea-and-tick-overview.
These aren’t the only minute pests to be concerned about. Biting flies and gnats can be obnoxious to humans and their animals and may sometimes carry disease. Mosquitoes also pester people and animals. Fur provides some protection, but ears and noses are vulnerable. Living and spending time near a water source makes you and your furry friend more susceptible to swarms of mosquitoes; therefore, protect yourself and your pets from these blood-suckers. Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus as well as heartworm, a major disease affecting dogs; cats can get heartworm, too. This disease is now in every state, not just the southern part of the U.S. as it once was. View heartworm incident maps at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/incidence-maps, and learn more about heartworm prevention at this website: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=580.
Dogs and cats can be allergic to tiny problematic creatures like ticks and mosquitoes. My springer/cocker mix, Mary, for example is allergic to many environmental objects, including grass, some trees, and mosquitoes. The only way my husband and I knew what allergies she has was to get her tested. Yes, it's an outlay of money, but we now know how best to help her and we know to protect her from mosquitoes. So, when we plan to travel to a lake or river, my husband and I make sure Mary is protected from mosquitoes, biting flies, and other tiny, potential disease-carrying pests.
Being outdoors is fun for us and for our pets, particularly our dogs. But remember there are tiny creatures out there just waiting for a warm body, ours and our animals, on which to inhabit. Therefore, take the needed precautions and purchase those preventative remedies to keep your pet from being infected by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Talk with your veterinarian about how to keep your furry friend safe and healthy.
Just like human medicine, the cost of medical care for our beloved pets can be high. For example, my dog Mary suffers from allergies; her injections cost nearly $300 a year plus she takes daily medication that costs nearly $70 per month. Vaccinations can run $20 to $30 and annual exams nearly $50. Health care for a person’s pet is oftentimes a reason someone will give up that pet (i.e., medication costs) or will ask a vet to euthanize the animal. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Yet, what is a pet owner, who lives on minimum wage or is working two or more jobs and caring for a family, to do, especially with unplanned, emergency veterinary bills? There are several options.
First, explore low-cost vaccination clinics and spay/neuter clinics. Oftentimes various animal welfare organizations will team up with veterinarians to offer such services. For example, my community’s Humane Society pairs with a local vet to offer monthly low-cost vaccination clinics, and occasionally the local city/county animal shelter teams up with a vet to provide low-cost microchip clinics. Learn what’s available in your community for such services.
Second, talk with your veterinarian about a payment plans. Some vets will take monthly or twice-a-month payments; however, many do not. It does not hurt to ask. If your vet is one of those who doesn’t accept payment plans, here are a few other choices for you to consider to help with the financial aspects of your pet’s health care:
We all want to keep our furry friends as healthy as possible, but sometimes the expense can be challenging. Investigate these options and see if one if right for you. Additionally, here is a website that gives more information on how people can find help to pay their veterinary bills: https://www.paws.org/cats-and-dogs/other-services/help-with-veterinary-bills/.
Springtime brings more people outdoors and thoughts about adding a pet to one’s life often occurs during better weather. Playing with a dog in the backyard, taking walks in the neighborhood and beyond, and opening windows to smell fresh air and hear birds sing conjure up ideas about sharing experiences – and life – with a four-footed friend.
Adopting a pet from a local shelter or rescue is a positive thing; oftentimes, adoption saves lives. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which promotes Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month during April, reports that nearly 6.5 million animals are brought into animal shelters across the nation each year, and about 1.5 are killed in those facilities, oftentimes due to lack of adoption and lack of space. Therefore, adoption does save lives.
However, before running out to your local animal shelter or pet rescue organization, there are five questions a person should honestly answer before bringing a pet home. They are:
Let’s take a quick look at each of these questions and hopefully, help you answer them.
Being ready for a pet means examining your lifestyle and family situation. Primarily, do you have enough time to devote to a pet? Is someone responsible enough to not just feed and water the animal, but also to spend quality time playing with and providing activity and companionship for the pet? How many hours do you and your family spend away from home, which would leave the pet alone, possibly bored which, in turn, could lead to destructive behaviors. Make sure you have time to spend with your adopted animal – before you adopt.
What pet best fits your lifestyle? If you are gone a lot, a cat would likely be better than a dog. Cats are often much more independent; not saying you should ignore your cat, but a kitty doesn’t require walking, running, or playing activities as much as a cat does. Still, all pets need friendship and companionship, no matter what type of animal you consider bringing home. Various breeds of dogs need more, or less, activity, so if you’re considering adopting a dog, research the breed’s activity level requirements as well as personality traits. A great place to go for such information is the American Kennel Club’s website:
Finding a place from which to adopt a pet is fairly easy. There are many organizations whose mission it is to help animals in need of new homes. Local animal shelters and humane societies, as well as a wide variety of rescue organizations make saving pets and re-homing them a priority. The best place to start is your local shelter or rescue. Petfinder.com is also a great resource and helps thousands of pets find new homes every year. At this website, you will find specific breeds and ages of animals simply by using the parameters, and your zip code, at the site.
Speaking of ages, does a puppy or kitten suit your lifestyle or is it best for you to adopt an older animal? Baby and teenaged pets often require much more attention, care, and training, whereas adults and seniors are likely to be already trained and able to spend more time alone without worry of soiled carpet or chewed/clawed up furniture. Carefully consider how much time you have with the pet before being swept away by puppy and kitten cuteness.
Another option for adoption is a pet with a disability. These are often the most overlooked, and therefore, most likely to die in shelters. Yet, they are loving, faithful friends when given the chance. Blind, deaf, three-legged, or diabetic, these animals need loving, dedicated homes, too, oftentimes more so than “normal” pets. Consider adopting a pet with a disability, but also carefully consider the pets needs and if you can meet those needs. Deaf animals can – and do – respond to training via hand signals, and blind pets need more safety measures in place. These things are doable, and not costly.
So, are you ready to adopt a pet? Find more information about pet adoption and pet care at https://www.aspca.org/adopt-pet/adoption-tips
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.