It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

Guinness

Guinness, a former shelter dog rescued by a PVMA employee.

We’ve all seen them … those commercials that show dogs in need of a home that have you reaching for the tissue box. More often than not these dogs appear dirty, hungry, and massively depressed. While it does tug at the heart strings, it might not be the best advertisement for actually motivating someone to go out and adopt a shelter or rescue dog. All joking aside, visiting your local rescue or shelter is a great way to save the life of a dog who is looking for a good home. You’ll gain a faithful companion and I guarantee you they will enrich your life as much as you will theirs. Dogs reduce stress, and there’s nothing better than coming home after a stressful day to someone who is simply thrilled that you returned.

Something else to consider, especially if you’re a first time dog owner, is the cost associated with owning a pet. There are a lot of costs associated including food and snacks, grooming costs or grooming products, vaccinations, regular veterinary care, and possible costs associated with illness and medication or treatments. Then there is bedding, toys … the list goes on. Click here to view the ASPCA’s in depth examination of pet care costs. It’s a great guide! Plus, if you do get a dog, the ASPCA has presents for you! Sign up for their free Pet Safety Pack which includes a window sticker for emergency services and an ASPCA magnet with important information on it.

Maybe you want a pet but don’t know how to judge which individual animal might best suit your personality and lifestyle. Fret no more! Check out the ASPCA’s Meet Your Match page. For both dogs and cats, it gives you tips on decoding personality traits so you can pick the right pet before getting home and finding out it’s not exactly a match made in heaven.

So if you’ve been toying with getting a dog, consider visiting your local shelter or rescue and see if they have a dog that might be right for you. Click here to search on available dogs in a shelter near you.

A little bit of everything

japaneseboyI’ve got more than one timely thing I want to touch on, so I’ll just touch on them all! (After all it’s Friday, I can do what I want.)

This Sunday, September 28, is World Rabies Day. While most of us in the US get our dogs and cats vaccinated and then think that rabies is mostly left to the odd wildlife creature, in poorer and less developed countries, rabies is a real threat. Especially to children who are more likely to get bitten. In the Pan-American region, Haiti in particular has a big rabies problem in dogs that roam freely, and the sad fact is that with vaccines, it’s 100% preventable. Click here to learn more about what’s being done from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and make a donation if you so choose. A $20 donation buys the vaccine for 50 dogs – that’s a lot.

September is also Disaster Preparedness Month. Disaster preparedness can take many shapes, but in terms of PVMA, we’re thinking about having a plan for the whole family – including pets – if a disaster would happen. Make a plan of where you would stay if you had to leave your home and had to take your pets with you. Do you have their medications? Do they fit in the car? Do you have a pet-friendly place you can stay? Things we take for granted everyday can suddenly become a huge problem during an emergency. Click here to view our disaster preparedness fact sheet and get some ideas of where you need help.

Friday fun! Here are some random things that I like and hope you will too. Have a great weekend!

September is Happy Cat Month!

Tabby kittenNo grumpy cats here!

September is happy cat month, and the CATalyst Council has some great tips for keeping your cat smiling all year long.

Go to the vet! It’s no secret that cats receive significantly less veterinary care than other pets, in part because it can be such an ordeal to get them there. Cat-friendly practices can share tips with you on making the trip less stressful for you and your cat. See if there is one near you here.

Preventive care. Even cats that stay inside can wind up with parasites that are carried in accidentally by other family members. Work with your veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan.

Get them microchipped. If your cat would get lost, there’s no better way to make sure they get returned to you than to have them microchipped. It’s important to remember to register the microchip with the tracking company once it’s implanted, and be sure to keep your information up to date if you move or your phone number or email address change.

Play! A cat with toys is a happy cat, plus it can help keep them out of trouble. Try more than one type of toy to see which kinds are their favorites.

Get to work. Training your cat basic commands or even a few tricks can be fun and stimulating for your cat, plus your getting to spend some quality time together.

Don’t overfeed. Feline obesity is a growing problem (no pun intended), and having an overweight cat can cause health problems. Consider toys that release small bits of food as the cat plays with it, or moving their food dish so they have to use their hunting instincts to locate it.

Keep the cat carrier out. If your cat only sees the cat carrier when it’s time to go to the veterinarian, they might not look upon it fondly. Keep it out with the door open where the cat can access it at any time. Put a blanket and toys inside to encourage them to spend time in there at their leisure. Hopefully with repeated access, it won’t be so scary when it’s time to travel.

Get some fresh air. Whether you let them roam the yard while you supervise or you invest in a harness and leash for a walk, any cat will benefit from a little fresh air and exercise.

Get a scratching post. Scratch the post, not your furniture! Stretching and scratching are normal behaviors – definitely provide an appropriate place for them to do it.

Get some company. Consider going to a local shelter and adopting a buddy for your cat. Having a playmate can help keep them happy and occupied during the day, and can encouragev exercise if they like to romp around together.

There are lots of great resources available for cat owners. Here are a few that we like.

Fun with preventive care!

Attack-of-the-cute-animals-13I was going to write a detailed post about preventive care and the importance of regular veterinary visits for your pets (to prevent bigger issues down the road), but then I thought, what the heck! It’s Friday! Let’s have a little fun. (With some preventive care facts thrown in.)

  1. Microchip, microchip, microchip! If you pet gets lost or stolen, any veterinarian or shelter can scan the microchip and reunite you with your animal. Always remember to update your personal information with the microchip company if you move or change emails/phone numbers. And who wouldn’t want their dog returned if they acted liked these guys!? (Warning: you won’t make it through without at least one belly laugh and one awww…)
  2. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate! While it’s critical for every pet to get a rabies shot, I especially cringe when I hear cat owners say, I don’t get the shot because my cat doesn’t roam around outside. Even if your cat only walks around a fenced in yard or got outside once accidentally, you don’t know what – or whom – they been exposed to. Always get preventive shots as your veterinarian recommends. Keep your cats healthy and they could act like this.
  3. Make sure your pets stay at a healthy weight. Obesity is not only a problem for humans, but can also cause health problems in pets including diabetes and organ failure. Throw balls, go for walks, whatever you and your pet enjoy to work a little exercise into each day. Keep your pets and they could perform one of these stunts.
  4. And last but not least, love them. Just look at how much they love you.
young-calico-cat

A Day in the Life: My Journey to Being the Crazy Cat Lady

young-calico-catMany of you may remember my previous blog about Lusca, the new kitten, we got a couple of months ago. What I did not mentioned in my previous post was that we were also fostering a cat until a friend could find a home for her. Well, she moved in two weeks ago, and for those of you keeping track, our cat population has just about doubled. Initially, we didn’t have any intention of keeping Snowball and in the past, I have had no issues returning fosters to their new families, but she is a bit special.

She was a stray that had been hanging around my friend’s house for a few months, and with winter approaching they didn’t want to leave her outside. She also had developed a skin infection and a lovely case of fleas and ear mites. We quickly determined that she was incredibly sweet, cuddly and, in addition to her skin issues, she had a fairly loud heart murmur. My friends realized that she was going to need a special owner to take care of her, so they began looking for the perfect owner.

In the meantime, Snowball took up temporary residence in my basement, until her skin infection healed and her vaccines were updated. During that time, she quickly won over anyone that came downstairs to watch TV or snuggle. She became quite comfortable and started sitting at the top of the stairs so she could bolt up whenever you opened the door.

During this temporary residency, Lusca developed a love for escaping down the stairs. Sadly, Lusca was STILL in his, “I’ll attack everything that moves” (OK really anything that exists) stage, so I was a bit worried the first time he busted down the stairs. However, when he got down there something amazing happened … instead of immediately pouncing or attacking Snowball … he ran up fairly close and stopped short. I hadn’t seen him respond to anything that way before, so I watched in rapt attention. As he would get closer to her, she would make a “chuffing” noise, which, in cat, I equate to “I dare you!” and he respected it!

When Kyle got home, I was telling him about the interaction, and he thought I was crazy since Lusca has no respect for our other cats. Therefore, I “accidentally” let Lusca downstairs again when he was down there, and the same thing happened. We then decided to start letting them interact on a more regular basis and occasionally be roommates. As Lusca got braver, he managed to get himself swatted a few times, but, in all honestly, it was deserved and hopefully he will eventually learn some manners.

After much conversation and debating, we decided Lusca needed a feline mother-figure in his life and, given my veterinary background, our home seemed perfect for a cat with heart issues. Snowball apparently already liked dogs and was cool with other cats, which amazed me. Currently, she has taken up residence on the one foot rest that has not been claimed by anyone else (as a note- humans never get to have full access to any footrest here) and is loving life.

Nikki Kline, Veterinary Technician
French Creek Veterinary Hospital
www.frenchcreekvet.com

 

5 Ways to Have Fun With Your New Cat!

June is Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month! If you are planning on bringing home a new furry feline friend, here are some tips courtesy of the CATalyst Council on 5 fun activities to do with a newly adopted cat.

  1. kitten

    June is Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month!

    Set up your cat’s first veterinary visit. Ensuring your newly found friend lives a long and happy life starts when you establish a relationship with your local veterinarian. While your cat may have received some basic vaccinations prior to its adoption, it is important that you see your veterinarian as soon as possible. At your first visit, discuss preventive healthcare. After your initial visit, make sure your cat sees a veterinarian at least once a year for a routine wellness exam. By starting right after you adopt your cat, you’ll establish a close and helpful relationship with your cat’s health care expert.

  2. Teach your cat a trick. While most cat owners will tell you how smart their cats are, many don’t realize that their feline friends can learn tricks. With a little patience and some rewards—treats or a favorite toy will work—your cat can easily learn to sit, roll over, jump, give five — your imagination is the limit! The activity will also strengthen the bond between you and your cat and exercise your cat’s mind.
  3. Get your cat to love its carrier. If your cat sees its carrier as a great place to hang out, it will make going anywhere—the veterinarian, a friend’s house, the pet store—pleasant for both of you. Follow the tips in this video and your cat will love the carrier.
  4. Take your cat outside (appropriately). While most veterinarians and cat experts recommend that cats live indoors, it can be good for your cat to venture outside as long as it is restrained on a leash with a cat harness or in a cat stroller. The fresh air and sights will invigorate your cat. Training your cat to be comfortable on a leash can take a little patience, but your cat will love these outings once it is used to the sensation of the harness.
  5. Play with your cat. Part of the joy of having a new cat is figuring out what makes it tick. All cats have a prey drive and are natural hunters, but figuring out which type of prey toy it likes best is great fun for both you and your cat. Try different objects—fishing-type toys, fake mice, a ball in a stationary round track, food reward toys — there are an abundance of cat toys on the market and you can even find sites online that can show you how to make your own. But be on the lookout and immediately remove a toy if it is destroyed or broken. Also inspect toys prior to purchasing for choking hazards.

Each of these activities will help to cement the bond between you and your new feline friend. Cats are wonderful companions and, when given proper attention and health care, can live for more than 20 years. From day one, ensure you are doing your part to help your cat live the longest and healthiest life possible.

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The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at http://www.catalystcouncil.org.

In the news …

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Harper and Lola

In the past week, I’ve seen several good animal videos and photo essays covering a range of issues and just plain cuteness. Instead of telling you all about them, I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Frostie the Snow Goat
Frostie – possibly the cutest goat ever – lost the use of his back legs through disease. See how happy he is to get his very own wheelchair.

Mr. G the Goat
Mr G is a goat that was rescued from a hoarding situation who was then separated from his best friend, a burro. See them reunited!

Harlow And Indiana, Instagram’s Best Friends
A photo essay about two dogs that will melt your heart.

Nothing Comes Between a Kid and Their Dog
’nuff said.

BBFF – Bull Dog Best Friend Forever
Harper has no siblings, so her mom got her a bulldog.