November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Why You Should Consider Adopting a Senior Pet

When people think about adopting a new pet for their family, kittens and puppies often come to mind, not seniors. Older dogs and cats often take the longest to be adopted and are more likely to face being euthanized than younger adoptable pets. But that’s not because they’re not a great choice for adoption – but perhaps simply because they lack the “newness” of a puppy or kitten.

People also sometimes feel unsure about adopting an older canine or feline because of their shorter lifespan, or the possibilities of them needing extra veterinary care that will add more expense. Sometimes people assume that older pets were put up for adoption because there was something wrong with them or they might have a bad temperament, but that simply isn’t true in most cases. Older dogs and cats are often put up for adoption due to changes in financial or home situations. This regularly happens when seniors have to move into a retirement home or pass away, and their beloved pets are left without an owner and must be placed in a shelter.

The truth is, older pets can make a delightful addition to any family! In fact, there are many benefits to adopting a senior dog or cat over a younger one:

What You See is What You Get

Older pets often have calmer dispositions and their personalities are already formed. You’ll know if you’re adopting a dog that loves to lay on the couch and snuggle, or if they’re more of the loner type. You’ll also know if they’re good with kids and other pets, or if they prefer to be a solo fur baby. You’ll be able to find the perfect family member to fit into your home and lifestyle situation.

You Get to Skip the “Puppy” Phase

If you’ve ever owned a puppy or a kitten, you know just how daunting it can be for the first few months or even the first couple of years. Senior dogs tend to be more relaxed and less energetic than puppies, and an older cat will often be more socialized and less temperamental than kittens. Another great bonus is that the pet will most likely already be house or litter trained. Older dogs can also still be taught new tricks and will most likely come along with some training already!

Help a Senior Pet Find Their Forever Home Today

Senior pets face a much harder journey to get adopted than younger one. In many shelters and rescues, the senior pets are the most difficult ones to get adopted and take the longest. Many unfortunately never find their forever home and end up living out their days at a shelter. But you can be that loving home they’ve been waiting for. Senior canines and felines are hoping for just one thing; loving companionship. So, when you’re ready to open your home and welcome a new family member, we urge you to consider adopting a senior pet. We think they will make a wonderful addition to your family, and you’ll make their whole life wonderful.

Which Bedding Products Can You Donate to an Animal Shelter?

Local shelters depend on donations to stay within their usually meager budgets. Before you pack up your trunk with items that you’re sure will help, take a look at our list of regular household bedding and other products that will make the biggest difference to your local shelter. A few of them you might not have even considered donating before.

1. Towels

Towels may not technically be bedding, but for an animal, they may be. These household cast-offs are like gold for shelters because they can be used in so many ways. Small dogs and cats used them as bedding and volunteers cut or rip them into pieces to be used as rags to clean animals, cages, and the occasional accident.

2. Blankets

It doesn’t matter what kind of bed your blankets fit on, they’ll find new use at a shelter. Blankets, like towels, make wonderful bedding except they can be used for animals of all sizes. Fleece blankets are highly coveted for their soft, comfortable texture and ability to keep body temperatures up. For a shelter animal, a blanket of their own can make what space they have feel like a home.

3. Gently Used Pet Bedding

If your own pet’s bed is ready for an upgrade, his gently used bedding will work for a rescue animal. Animals of all sizes end up in shelters so the size of the bedding doesn’t matter. It just needs to be intact enough that the filling isn’t coming out, creating a potential choking hazard.

4. Heating Pads

Once you’re ready to replace your old heating pad, it can find new life at a shelter. Newborns and babies of all species can’t regulate their body temperatures as well as adults. Young animals may come to the shelter after their mothers have been killed or separated from them so they’re going to need the extra warmth their mother used to provide.

5. Non-Bedding Donations

Of course, shelters need far more than bedding. We’ve put together a few other suggestions for items you may have lying around the house:

  • Extra/Used Pet Accessories:
    Leashes, collars, sweaters, and coats can all be put to use. Like bedding, make sure there aren’t any tears that could make them dangerous for another animal.
  • Pet Food: OK, you’re not going to have unwanted pet food around, but why not buy one extra bag every few months and give it to the shelter? It will help them stay within their budget, and make you feel good knowing you’re helping hungry animals.
  • Newspaper: Once those old newspapers start piling up, drop them off at a shelter where they’ll be used to line crates and cages. Newspapers quickly get used up so shelters are always in need.
  • Office Supplies: This is another one you may not have thought of but volunteers have to print and fill out a lot of forms. Any extra office supplies can help keep the shelter within budget. The more money they save the more animals they can help.

Donations get used items out of your house and into the hands (or paws) of those who need them. While you can’t bring home every animal in the shelter, you can certainly help them on their journey to their forever home.

Guest Blog post by SleepHelp.org

Keep Your Furry Friends Safe this Halloween

While Halloween festivities can be fun for humans, they can be stressful and even dangerous for our four-legged friends. Follow these safety tips to have a fun and safe Halloween for everyone in your household.

  • Do not let pets eat trick or treat candies. They can be toxic to animals.
  • Kids and others in costumes can be stressful for pets so keep them away from the door when trick-or-treaters call. The loud noises of doorbells constantly ringing, kids screaming and more can set off the calmest dog. And people in costumes can be disorienting and frightening for any animal. If possible, shut them in a quiet room away from the action to keep them calm and prevent them from running away or possibly being aggressive towards one of your callers.
  • Don’t leave your pet out in the yard on Haloween. You wouldn’t want them to be the victim of a “trick”. Be especially careful if your pet is a black cat.
  • Be wary of keeping Halloween decorations out of reach of your pets. Pumpkins and corn can be dangerous especially if eaten uncooked or if moldy. Lit candles can burn your pets or get knocked over and cause a fire. Glow sticks can make a dog sick if chewed on. Electric cords to decorations can be chewed on causing a fire hazard or electric shock danger. Batteries from decorations can be swallowed.
  • Pets in costumes look cute but they don’t all love it. Make sure you try any costumes before the big night to get your pet used to it. Also, make sure your pet actually isn’t upset or annoyed with the costume or any part of it. Look for pieces of a costume that might restrict the animal’s movement, hearing, eyesight or breathing and remove them. Watch out for skin problems caused by the costume and remove immediately if any develop.
  • Most importantly for Halloween and every day: Make sure your pet has proper identification with the proper information on it. Collars and tags are a good start but these can fall off and get lost. Microchip your pet to make sure they can be identified if they do get separated from you.

Community Cats Need Our Help

Misinformation costs millions of community cats (also known as feral cats) their lives every year. When a person sees a cat living outdoors, the urge is to assume that it needs our help, and that help often comes in the form of delivering said cat to the overcrowded local shelters. Sadly, because feral cats are not socialized to humans, this well-meant action is most likely to be a death sentence for a cat who could otherwise have lived a natural life outdoors.

Cats living outdoors is a hard pill to swallow for many animal lovers, especially since we are told over and over that it is so much safer for our pet cats to live indoors. This information is real and good, considering that an outdoor cat is more likely to be hit by a car, contract a disease, or get into a fight – but it doesn’t apply to community cats quite the same way. Why? Because feral cats are closer to wild animals than pet cats. They, like millions upon millions of cats who came before them over many thousands of years, were born and have made their homes outside, in nature – just like squirrels and rabbits. Contrary to popular belief, feral cats can live long and healthy lives in the wild. While we might want to “save” them, most feral cats typically avoid contact with humans, are even frightened of them, and would be unhappy if made to live in a human home.

Alley Cat Allies is an organization that helps educate the public about community cats, and combat the misinformation that leads to the deaths of so many of them. Among many efforts, they work with officials to create T-N-R (Trap, Neuter, Release) programs for community cats that help to combat overpopulation, while allowing cats to continue living where they are happy and thriving. Humanely controlling the feral cat population in this way, as well as working to inform the public as to the nature and needs of community cats, also helps to save the lives of stray or pet cats – overcrowded shelters all too often result in their deaths, as well.

It may be difficult for a concerned cat lover to tell the difference between a stray cat who might need help and a community cat who just needs to be left alone. Alley Cat Allies has an amazing guide to help us figure this out. We urge you to peruse their website, which contains a wealth of information to help the average animal advocate to learn how to help their own community cats, including what to do when we find feral kittens, how to help educate others on the truths about feral cats (are they really bad for wildlife?), and how to get involved in T-N-R.

Like us, we know you want to do what you can to help your neighborhood cats. For Global Cat Day, we hope you use this information and these resources to kick off a community cat education initiative in your own neighborhood.

Get Outside for National Walk Your Dog Week

47410078_l.jpgThe weather is starting to cool down, and this makes the first week in October the perfect time to celebrate National Walk Your Dog Week.

Obesity is on the rise in the US, both for humans and for their canine friends. In the US, an estimated 56% of dogs are overweight – that amounts to about 50 million dogs! Excess weight in dogs can create health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, pancreatitis and cancer. A sedentary lifestyle, which is a large contributing factor to obesity, can also cause behavior problems in dogs, due to boredom or excess energy that has not been burned off in a positive way. Sadly, these behavior problems can sometimes land dogs in overcrowded shelters. What can we do?

In addition to keeping a close eye on a dog’s diet, avoiding unhealthy foods and making sure not to overfeed, one great way to address a dog’s weight problem is to walk with them every day. A daily 30 minute walk will help both you and your dog meet national standards for heart health, and will get you both on the road to a healthier weight. The exercise also has the added benefit of tiring your dog out – remember, a tired dog is a good dog.

You may be thinking to yourself that you have a large yard, and a pet door for your dogs – isn’t this enough? While it is true that it is very beneficial for a dog to have free access to their yard, and it helps provide an excellent foundation for a healthy dog, there is more to the picture. When a dog is outside in their own yard, there is a lot of (valuable) time spent exploring his territory, sniffing around, lying in the sun – all very important activities for your dog. But this outside time doesn’t quite live up to the sustained exercise a dog needs – similar to how the time we spend outdoors in our garden, while great for us, doesn’t quite provide all of the cardiovascular exercise our own bodies need. Also, when you take your dog out into the world for a walk, there are new sights, sounds and smells that stimulate his brain in a different way than his usual scene, which gives him a mental health boost in addition to a heart health one.

You can even get your whole family involved. If you bring your kids along on your walks, you will be not only modeling an active lifestyle for them, but you will also be teaching them how to take excellent care of their own dogs when they get older.

These are all great points, but what if you don’t have a dog to walk? There is a great solution to that problem waiting for you at your local dog shelter. Remember how we mentioned above that some dogs end up in shelters due to behavior problems that have their root in a sedentary lifestyle and obesity? You can find yourself the perfect walking buddy in a dog who needs you to help him get to be his healthiest and happiest self. It’s a win-win!

Consider Adopting a Less Adoptable Pet

According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters in the US every year. Shelter and rescue resources are stretched thin as they try to find homes for these pets, and sadly, only 50%, on average, will be adopted – and we know the sad end to the story for many of the other 50%.

In 2009, Petfinder.com, an online searchable database that partners with shelters and rescues to help connect homeless pets with adopters, founded “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week” (the third week in September) to highlight the struggle of finding homes for pets who, statistically, have a harder time finding a home. In a recent survey, Petfinder revealed that 95% of responding rescues have pets that they define as being “hard to adopt.” While an average pet spends about 12 weeks on the site before adoption, pets that have special needs, black coats or senior pets may take four times that long to find a home.

While pets with health problems and disabilities, such as cats with FIV, or dogs with diabetes, can live relatively normal lives with average lifespans, the fact that they require a little extra care, and perhaps medication, makes a pet with special needs less likely to be adopted. Even disabilities as simple as a missing eye or leg, that requires no extra care, can cause a pet to be passed over. This tragic fact is made even more so when you consider how rewarding it can be to bring a pet like this into your family, and how manageable many disabilities and illnesses can become with a little education and support from a great veterinarian.

It may seem like an old wives’ tale, but many shelters and rescues still report that animals with a black coat are less likely to be adopted than pets of any other color. There are varying views on why this is true, from the lingering stigma of black cats (and even dogs) of old being associated with witchcraft and bad luck, to the belief that they are harder to photograph. Some sources state that it’s simply the fact that there are more black cats and dogs than other colors, and so people will pass them by in favor of a less common color. Whatever the reason, we hope our readers realize what great pets black cats and dogs make (I mean, black cats look like tiny panthers – what could be better?).

And when it comes to senior pets, this may be the saddest less-adoptable category of them all. Many times, senior pets have been given up because their older owners have died or had to move into assisted living, or their owners may have decided that they couldn’t deal with senior-related changes or expenses. These kinds of surrenders are so sad, because senior pets have likely been with their owners for many years, and don’t understand why they have been left in this situation. And, just as a side effect of not being a cute and cuddly little puppy or kitten any longer, these older pets may never find a new home. How sad, considering that senior pets can be the perfect pets – mellow, low demands for energy, they just need a loving place to lay their heads, and kind pat on the head, and a good meal.

When you next find yourself in the position of opening your home to a new pet, we hope that you keep these “less-adoptable” pets in mind. You could even consider covering all of the bases, and adopt a senior, special needs pet who happens to have a black coat – you could save a life and make a new best friend.

Happiness is Vital to Your Cat’s Health

We do everything we can to make sure our cats are healthy. We feed them good quality food, we take them to their annual checkups, brush them, scratch them behind the ears, and love them. Cats have a reputation for being the low-maintenance pet – meet their basic needs, and they will live long healthy lives. But do we spend enough time thinking about our cats’ mental and emotional well-being?

It turns out that, like most creatures, happiness has a deep connection to your cat’s health. While good food and vet visits are clearly important, we also need to consider what our cats need to meet their instinctive requirements as a cat.

First, let’s look at the most prominent threat to a cat’s happiness: stress. Like in humans, stress, especially over prolonged periods, has a detrimental effect on cat health. Stress hormones that are perfectly designed to help cats in nature (the good old “fight or flight” response) were not meant to be released over and over again all day long. Continuous exposure to these hormones causes damage to organ systems by elevating heart rate and blood pressure and raising blood sugar.

But what on earth does a pampered domestic cat have to be stressed about, you may wonder? The answer is a lot of things. Things like boredom, conflicts with other household cats over territory, food or resources, changes in routine, loss or addition of household members and pets, tension in the home, medical problems, and so much more, can cause systemic stress in your cat.

So what can we do about all of this? We have to remember that cats are not very far removed from their wild relatives, and their needs are still very similar to that of their cousins. Cats are hunters, and also prey animals. They need to have their own territory and resources. In short, cats need to feel like cats. You can help keep your cat happy and healthy by:

Protecting Food Resources

This doesn’t just mean feeding them on time. When you feed them, make sure they are not threatened by other animals in the house – that might mean separating them from other cats at feeding time, elevating their feeding area to be safe from dogs in the house, or simply moving their dish away from the wall so that they can face the room while they eat.

Give them Ownership of Scent and Vantage Resources

Make sure that all of the cats in your house have access to climbing, perching and burrowing resources. In nature, cats might sit in a tree to view their surroundings for hunting or hiding purposes, or they might prefer to shelter in a bush. Approximating these with plenty of cat trees, perches, caves and beds will help to assure that each cat has their own space without any conflict. Likewise, there should be cat scratchers aplenty around the house – cats need them to maintain claw health and to leave their scent, thus securing their zone.

Keep Things Clean

In nature, cats bury their waste, and would not wish to relieve themselves in a dirty place. The same is true for your cat. Keeping the litter box clean by scooping or emptying a minimum of once per day is key if you want your cat to maintain good bathroom habits. You should also have more than one litter box – ideally, one for every cat in your house, plus one – distributed in different parts of your home, to avoid litter box conflicts.

Provide Mental Stimulation

We want to keep our cats indoors to keep them safe, but we also must ensure that their needs as a natural hunter are being met. Play with your cats daily by encouraging them to chase toys that resemble prey animals, laser dots, etc. Give them window perches so that they can watch birds outside. And if you want to go all out, you can build your cats a catio – an enclosed outdoor space that allows them to experience a taste of the outside world without the dangers of outdoor-cat life.

In reality, it just takes a few simple changes to put some focus on your cat’s mental well-being, and you will be paving the way for a cat who is healthy in both body and spirit.

Black Cat Appreciation Day

Freddie – adopted by the Wilson kids from the Fremont County Humane Society in Canon City, Colorado

August 17 is National Black Cat Appreciation Day – an excellent opportunity to learn a few things about these amazing and notorious cats, and why we should give them a little extra love.

To begin, it might surprise some of you to know that, even in this modern age, black cats are still associated by some with witchcraft, Halloween, and bad luck. This reputation began way back in the middle ages when black cats were erroneously connected to suspected witches (so were many other animals – the rep, unfortunately, stuck firmly to the black cat.) Though this may seem amusing now, the sad side effect of this kind of persistent prejudice puts black cats in the unfortunate position of being less likely to be adopted in shelters. Even worse, some black cats are in danger of being harmed on days like Halloween. For this reason, some shelters suspend adoptions of black cats during the month of October.

How unfair! Especially when you consider these reasons why black cats are really cool:

Black Cats Live Longer

The genetic mutations that cause the black coat appear to also be associated with a stronger immune system and protection from some diseases, (such as FIV), as well as increased longevity. More time to love your cat!

They Can Change Color

A fun fact about black cats is that if they lay out in the sun too long, they can start to “rust” as their melanin reacts with the sun exposure. As they age, black cats can also start going a little grey, and get a salt and pepper look.

Black Cats Bring Good Luck

In some cultures and traditions, black cats bring good luck, instead of bad, and might even help your love life!

They Have Beautiful Eyes

A black cat’s abundance of melanin often causes them to have the most beautiful golden eyes.

Black Cats are Excellent Hunters

This one makes perfect sense – cats are nocturnal hunters by nature, and black cats have an extra ninja edge over other cats by being nearly invisible in the dark.

They Look Like Tiny Black Panthers

At the end of the day, isn’t it just the coolest thing to have a tiny panther living in your house?

These are just a few of so many reasons to love black cats. When it comes time for you to open your home to a rescue cat, won’t you consider giving one of these amazing cats a place in your heart?

 

Celebrate National Craft for Your Local Shelter on July 21st

Local shelters and humane societies are always in need of financial or volunteer assistance and supplies. Crafters are always keeping busy with their favorite type of hobby. In 2012, Sew Doggy Style created National Craft for your Local Shelters Day on July 21st to combine the best of both worlds.

It is designed to be fun and affordable, simple and meaningful. No matter what type of crafting hobby you enjoy: sewing, knitting, crocheting, woodworking, etc. or even if you have no formal “crafting” skill, anyone can make something to donate to your local shelter.

Hale Pet Door is headquartered in Canon City, Colorado, and we interviewed Ann Goldman, owner of Yarned and Dangerous (our local knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning, and fiber arts store) and Doug Rae, Executive Director of the Fremont County Humane Society to see one example of this special day in action.

Ann Goldman tells us: “What to do when you knit, love animals, and have spare time? You knit cat mats!

Here at our Local Yarn Shop, we get lots of donated yarn. We have many who love to knit but don’t need another hat, scarf, or afghan. So we pair those avid knitters with the donated yarn and the results? 100s of cat mats. We love knitting for our kitties housed at the Humane Society of Fremont County. We’ve been told they love our cat mats. These many cat mats have been turned into hammocks, nests, cocoons, or just nice blankies. It is our joy and pleasure. I found 2 pictures that show off the cats with the mats.

The little one with attitude is Felix. The older cat chilling is Aerosmith. They are available for adoption now. Of course, their mats go home with them.”

Executive Director Doug Rae adds: “The Humane Society of Fremont County relies on private donations on many levels. One such level is when local residents take it upon themselves to do something for the shelter animals. Ann and her gang from Yarned and Dangerous in Canon City regularly knit blankets for the shelter cats. Every cat in the shelter has one of those blankets in their kennel, and when the pet is adopted, the blanket goes home with the new adopter and the cat. One walk through cat adoptions and you’ll see how much the cats love these donated blankets.”

“Dick Ward has been making handmade animal puzzles out of wood for quite some time. A few years back, Dick and his wife Korla came to me with their offer to make puzzles for the shelter so we could sell them and turn the puzzles into cash for the animals. Dick’s puzzles are for sale for $10.00 each in our retail section.”

“Moreover, Dick has a similar set-up with Cup & Cone here in town. Dick provides Cup & Cone with his puzzles and almost every month, the shelter receives a check in the mail from the sales of Dick’s puzzles at Cup & Cone! I have offered to pay for the wood Dick uses for his puzzles, but he politely declines and will not take one penny from the shelter.”

“Deanna Jacobs donates her hand-made jewelry to the shelter. Deanna made this jewelry for a special event the shelter held. After every item sold at that event, Deanna gave the shelter enough of her to jewelry to fill up a large jewelry display in the lobby. All of Deanna’s items, whether it be bracelets or earrings, has something to do with the animals. Like everyone else, Deanna won’t take a penny from the shelter for her donated jewelry.”

What a wonderful testament to the giving spirit of these talented people.

If formal hobbies aren’t your style, you can make simple cat toys out of toilet paper tubes and kleenex boxes; you can make dog toys out of ropes or plastic water bottles; you can make beds and blankets out of old t-shirts and pillows. The ideas are endless.

For some more ideas and instructions on how you can participate in this holiday check out some of the following articles:

Your Craft Skills Can Help Shelter Cats

http://www.sewdoggystyle.com/p/craft-for-shelters.html

https://www.petguide.com/petcare/dog/6-easy-crafts-can-make-help-local-animal-shelter/

https://iheartdogs.com/10-ways-to-craft-for-your-local-shelter-on-july-21st/

https://www.vet-organics.com/blogs/news/national-craft-for-your-local-shelters-day

https://www.sitstay.com/blogs/good-dog-blog/help-your-local-shelter-with-these-fun-craft-projects

July Is Pet Loss Prevention Month

July is National Pet Loss Prevention Month, and even though the majority of us are responsible pet owners who care deeply for our furry family members, 1 out of 3 family pets will go missing at least once in their lifetime, potentially ending up as one of the 7.6 million dogs and cats who enter shelters every year.

July is an especially risky month for lost pets, because of the 4th of July holiday. More pets go missing on and around the 4th of July than any other day of the year, due to anxiety caused by fireworks. A mild-mannered dog might panic and claw its way out of a crate or crash through a glass door or fence, and could be running on the streets within moments. But it doesn’t have to take something dramatic – there are many reasons well-behaved pets might wander, even if it’s simple curiosity.

You can help reduce the stress of a lost-pet situation by taking a few steps ahead of time:

  1. Make sure your pet has up to date ID tags and a secure collar. This goes for cats, as well as dogs. A pet with a collar will be more easily identified as a pet, as opposed to a stray, and having your pet’s name and your identifying info clear to the person who finds your pet will help immensely with getting your pet home.
  1. Have your pet microchipped. Because collars can come off, another important step is to have your vet microchip your pet. If your pet were to be found and turned in to a shelter, they will be scanned for a microchip. Make sure you keep your info up to date at your microchip registry so that you can be reunited with your pet quickly.
  1. Get a GPS tracker for your pet. To help you track your pet if he or she does get out, there are several brands of GPS devices that are designed to attach to a pet’s collar.
  1. Be prepared for riskier times for pet loss. Make sure you have a plan to keep your pet safe and secure during holidays like the 4th of July. It is best to keep your pet home from 4th of July events, and it might even be a good idea for you to stay home with them. For more information on keeping your pets safe during 4th of July, the ASPCA has some great tips in this article.