For many people, January brings thoughts of better health – new year, new you. We can also resolve to get (or keep) our pets healthier, even if we haven’t started yet. One of the easiest ways for people, and pets, to become (or stay) healthier is by walking.
January is Walk Your Pet Month. Here are five good reasons to walk your pet:
If your dog is one of those that doesn’t walk well on a leash, and therefore, you avoid walks with your canine friend, there are many avenues you can take to train him/her. One includes visiting PetCo or PetSmart and enrolling in a training program offered at the store or enrolling in a class offered by your local Kennel Club chapter. Another is to hire a trainer. Or, you can do it yourself by reviewing instructions on sites like YouTube. There are also many great articles online about training your dog, including ones by Cesar Milan and the American Kennel Club, which you’ll find below:
Dogs aren’t the only pets that can be trained to walk on a leash – ferrets can as well and so can cats. Both my mother and I have had cats that were leash-trained, and when I visited and volunteered at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah, I took one cat for a walk on a leash and took another for a stroll in a baby buggy. Walking on a harness and leash allows kitties to explore the outdoors and breath fresh air safely. Learn how to train your cat to walk well on a leash by visiting this Best Friends’ site: https://bestfriends.org/resources/walking-cat.
Even though winter is upon us, walking with your pet outdoors can still be done. See the infographic below, created by NorthStar VETS of New Jersey, on how to walk safely outdoors with your pet during the cold and snowy months.
Keep your New Year’s resolution to get and stay healthy – and resolve to keep your pet healthy, too, – by sharing quality walks with your furry friend.
Living in the 21st century has many perks, from technological gadgets to how, as a society, we view animals. According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of people living in the United States own a pet, with the majority (60.2 million) having dogs and 47.1 million having cats. The organization estimates that nearly $70 billion was spent on pets by pet owners in 2017, up from 66.75 billion in 2016. Americans certainly seem to love their pets!
Still, improvements are greatly needed, especially in the areas of animal adoption and pet ownership responsibility.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly 6.5 million animals enter shelters and rescues every year; they are comprised of owner surrenders, strays, and animals rescued from hoarding, dog fighting, and puppy/kitty mill operations. Only about half are adopted. More than 700,000 strays are reunited with their owners; sadly, less than five percent of the cats that come in as strays are reclaimed, and many of the animals brought in are not spayed or neutered.
Pet ownership responsibility includes caring for one’s animal, providing food, water, shelter, and medical treatment. In addition to vaccinations and teeth cleaning, medical care should include spaying and neutering. Such procedures curb the number of litters born, and therefore, helps cut down on the number of animals needing homes, either through the owner giving/selling the youngsters or taking them to rescues and shelters. Cats and dogs can breed two to three times a year, having an average of six babies per litter. Multiple that out over the course of five to seven years, and you have thousands more animals per unsprayed female. For every kitten or puppy sold or given away by owners, that’s one less adopted and therefore, one more possibly euthanized.
Until there are less strays, less owner relinquishment, more adoptions, and more spaying and neutering, no more animal hoarding or puppy/kitten mills, there will be the need for animal shelters and rescues.
We all can do our part to positively impact responsibility and rescue. Here are some suggestions:
Although America has come a long way since the 1970s when 12 to 20 million pets were killed in animal shelters across the country, there a great need still exists for pet ownership responsibility and, therefore, for animal rescues and shelters. Let’s all do something to help continue the downward trend of euthanasia rates and increase pet ownership responsibility. Maybe one we will realize the #NoKill dream many animal welfare organizations envision – that no healthy, adoptable animal is euthanized – but it takes responsible pet owners to get there.
A new year has dawned with blasts of arctic air ushering in 2018 in the United States. From coast to coast, sub-zero temperatures and wind chills have taken their icy grip. These freezing temperatures not only affect people, but they also impact animals, including our pets. As caregivers to our furry family members, we need to insure our beloved companions are safe, warm, and healthy during this cold season. Although they have fur, and some breeds have extra-thick coats, the bitter temperatures do impact pets. Preventing frostbite and hypothermia saves our animals from injury, even death.
Here are six tips for keeping your pet warm during these frosty months:
As we dive into this winter season, following these guidelines can keep your pet safe and healthy during the brutal battle of arctic air we’re experiencing. For more thoughts on winter safety for your pet, visit these websites:
As Old Man Winter barrels down on much of the United States, snow and ice build up on sidewalks and driveways. To rid our walkways of the dangers of icy conditions, which can lead to falls and broken bones, we often put down ice melt. However, those can have their own hazards, especially for our pets.
The primary ingredient in most ice melt products can be sodium chloride or calcium chloride. These substances can irritate the paws of pets and can also be harmful, even deadly, if ingested. A dog or cat that’s been outside and picks up salt or ice melt on its feet then licks its paw after coming indoors could experience vomiting or diarrhea. Even just a few ounces of sodium chloride or calcium chloride in a small dog or cat can be deadly.
There are two positive solutions to ice melt concerns.
Crystals from salt and ice melt can get between your pet’s pads, causing irritation and potential burns. Take time to clean your dogs’ feet after a walk and your cats’ paws if they venture outdoors during winter. Paying close attention to your animals’ feet will help keep them more safe and healthy during these snowy months.
For some references on ice melts, visit these websites:
If your pet ingests ice melt, contact your vet, the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680), or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435).
Christmas is just a few short days away. Nothing can ruin the holiday season quicker than a health emergency, whether it involves a human or a beloved pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association lists several things that you as a pet parent can avoid in order to keep your pets healthy and safe. Here are a few:
Safety applies to travel as well. GoPetFriendly lists some tips for holiday car traveling and home visits with your pet, including:
For airline travel safety trips, visit http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/pets/articles/holiday-pet-travel-guide.
Find more thoughts on holiday pet safety at these websites:
Merry Christmas to you and your beloved furry ones!
“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…” so goes the poem written by Clement Moore called ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. So, the stockings are ready, the Christmas tree stands stately in the living room, and the outdoor lights sparkle with the season. Gift shopping commences, and you don’t want to forget the furry ones in your family. What do you get your beloved cat and/or dog companion?
From toys and treats to beds and trees, there’s a myriad of gift ideas for our pets. Articles made by hand (your own or someone else’s) or typical box-store items… which do we get? Maybe a mix of both. Here are a few gift ideas for your special pet this year:
Whether you make your own gifts for your pets or buy online or in-store, Christmas presents for our pets are fun to give – our beloved dogs and cats often get as excited as young children to receive Christmas presents. Just remember to keep your spending in check (see previous blog post).
For a variety of pet gift ideas at a low cost, read these recently published articles:
Woman’s Day: http://www.womansday.com/life/pet-care/g946/pet-gifts/?slide=2
Town and Country: http://www.townandcountrymag.com/style/tips/g2993/best-pet-gifts/
Are you like me during the holiday season and hang Christmas stockings filled with goodies for your pets? Do you splurge, spoil, and spend hard-earned cash on your animals, especially at this time of year?
Although it’s fun to make our pets feel special, just as we are delighted to enhance all of our loved ones’ holiday, whether it’s kids, grandkids, spouses, or parents, we also need to be wise to not over-indulge. As author, speaker, and radio show host Dave Ramsey says, “You can have a giving spirit without having a negative checking account.”
Here are a few tips for not breaking the bank this Christmas:
People do spend money on their pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, the amount of money people spend on their pets increases every year. In 2015, pet parents spent just over $60 billion (yes, billion with a “b!”) dollars on their animals; the following year, that amount increased to more than $66 billion, and in 2017, the organization predicts pet owners will spend nearly $70 billion dollars. Dogtime reports that $20 billion is spent on Halloween costumes, but Christmas gifts vie for an important role in pet-parent spending as well, averaging $36 per pet in the United States (pet parents in England spend a tad more, about $46 per pet).
There are NUMEROUS pet gift ideas, from Amazon picks to items at the big box stores. Some of the most delightful suggestions I’ve seen are listed/linked below:
In addition to Christmas gifts and everyday items like pet food, medical care for pets is also an expense – and can have a major effect on people’s finances. As we all know, pet care takes a lot of green (or plastic), whether that’s staples like food or for medical care. There are organizations and agencies, in states and nationally, who can help with various pet care costs, from spay/neuter procedures to prescription drugs. The Simple Dollar provides an online guide to these groups; check out your state’s pet organizations and foundations, as well as the national groups, by visiting the website with the article from The Simple Dollar.
Enjoy the holiday season without getting into financial hot water come January! And, if you need extra help with pet care needs, consider the resources listed at The Simple Dollar.
#GivingTuesday occurs this week, and on this day those of us who advocate for animals can make a big difference for those creatures.
#GivingTuesday allows us to partner with and thank non-profits around the world with a monetary donation. Around this time every year we are bombarded with spending money, from Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday savings. Many of us get wrapped up like a box at Christmas in the buy, buy, buy, and spend, spend, spend – and yes, #GivingTuesday is no exception. However, the big difference between Black Friday/Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday is that our dollars can do a lot of good on this special day – helping charities continue their good works.
Whether your passions lie with pets or people, or both, you can make a difference on #GivingTuesday; contributing to causes that help others is a very positive endeavor, and oftentimes your donations can and will be matched through grants and other donors.
On this #GivingTuesday, if you’re an animal advocate like me, let’s pool our resources and help pets in need. Donate locally first if you believe in a pet rescue or animal shelter near you; oftentimes, the local organizations receive little to no national funding; our local groups need us, their community, to step up. But, if you want to split your donation between a local and a national group, as I often do, here are a few national animal rescue organizations you might consider supporting:
There are many wonderful organizations, including breed rescues, like English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America, Big Dogs Huge Paws (specializing in breeds such as Mastiffs and Great Danes), and Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue (I have transported dogs for all three of these groups). If you like a specific breed of dog and want to assist a national rescue group for that breed, visit this American Kennel Club website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
Another group I like to support is located in Wyoming, but its reach extends beyond state borders. Black Dog Animal Rescue, in Cheyenne, has been around for nearly 10 years, helping shelter dogs scheduled to be euthanized in shelters find new, loving adoptive homes. One of their successful programs pairs prisoners with pups; the inmates work with the dogs regarding obedience and agility training.
My plan for #GivingTuesday is to donate locally, regionally, and nationally, and though I may not have a lot of money, my contribution paired with others can, and does, make a difference.
How about you? Want to help animals in need? I hope you’ll do so on this #GivingTuesday. Animals need people and rescues and shelters need individuals and groups to help them help the animals. Show your compassion and concern today – donate and make a difference!
Thanksgiving is upon those of us living the United States, a time of family, friends, and feasting. However, there are many foods which are good for people but harmful to our pets. Additionally, the comings and goings of loved ones can cause stress in pets.
Here are four tips to help keep your pets healthy and safe during this special holiday:
Read more pet safety tips for Thanksgiving at the following websites:
I wish you and your family, including your four-footed ones, a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!
Animal shelters and rescue organizations often find difficulty in the adoption of senior pets. Our society values youth and beauty, even in animals, therefore senior pets are often overlooked when people consider adopting. However, like mature humans, senior pets offer positive life experiences and provide special companionship.
The month of November is recognized as Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month, a time that animal welfare organizations promote the benefits of adopting senior pets. There are several good reasons that people should adopt mature animals.
In 2008, my husband and I adopted a 10-year-old cocker spaniel that had been used for breeding then then tossed away. We hesitated about adopting him, but we love spaniels, and recognizing his chances of being adopted were not great due to his age, we decided to bring him home and grant him his last few years with a loving family. That dog lived to be nearly 18 years of age! I think in part because we gave him a secure, devoted home, but also because he had a buddy with whom to share life.
In 2013, we again adopted after the passing of our 12-year-old springer spaniel (the cocker, Cody, was still with us and was nearly 15). Cody needed a pal and we needed another companion, recognizing Cody’s ever-increasing age. Therefore, we adopted Mary, a springer/cocker mix; she was nearly 7 years old at the time. We wondered if the 8-year-age difference might be a detriment, but, because of Mary’s low-key, sweet demeanor, the two got along very well, and I believe she enhanced the last 2+ years of Cody’s life, even likely extending his life. Because of her older age, Mary’s personality and size were already in place – there was no guessing. She has been a wonderful addition to our family, devoted, kind, friendly, and sweet, and she helped us cope with Cody’s passing in early 2016.
Some people think if an older dog or cat is in the shelter there must be something wrong with it – not so! Many senior pets are relinquished because the owner can no longer care for them due to the person’s health or even death of the owner. Some of the most wonderful companion animals in need of new homes await another chance to shower a family or individual with devotion and affection, just as they did with their previous owner.
Consider adopting an older pet next time you’re looking for another furry companion. You may ultimately be saving a life – and enriching your own!
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.