Table of Contents
(scroll down or click below for more articles)
- Easter Pet Safety
- Protect your pet from cold weather dangers
- Senior Pet Adoption & Care
- Halloween Pet Safety
- Welcoming a New Cat Home
EASTER PET SAFETY
Beware of Easter lilies. While beautiful, these toxic plants can be fatal if ingested by our animals.
While we all love a great Easter basket, remember that chocolate goodies, such as chocolate rabbits, are poisonous to pets. Additionally, any treats containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many candies and baked goods, can be toxic to pets, too. Bottom line… don’t leave candy in tempting and easily accessible locations for your pets (such as counter tops, etc.).
Decorations can be dangerous as well – especially tinsel for the baskets. That plastic grass can be tempting for cats and kittens to chew on, but can lead to severe intestinal obstructions. Try using shredded newsprint or paper, or skip this basket filler all together.
Lastly, baby chicks, ducks, bunnies and rabbits should not be given as gifts.
While these animals are adorable, they grow up fast and require specialized care (such as specific dietary and veterinary needs).
Baby chicks and ducklings can also present a potential hazard for children, pregnant women, the elderly and others with vulnerable immune systems. Young birds often carry harmful bacteria called Salmonella. This can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain, or a more severe infection in humans.
Rabbits, chickens and ducks also require a long time commitment, and caring, responsible owners. For example, rabbits can live up to 10 years of age. Because these pets are domesticated, they cannot later be released to the wild as they will not survive. Unfortunately, many animal shelters see an increase of these pets each year once the novelty has worn off after Easter.
Give the child in your life a stuffed toy or create a bunny-themed craft project instead.
PROTECT YOUR PET FROM COLD WEATHER DANGERS
Safe and Warm
The simplest way to protect your pet from weather-related injuries is to limit their time spent outdoors when temperatures dip. Exposure to freezing temperatures can cause frostbite, which commonly affects the ears, tail, and paws (especially the toes/pads). This can cause severe pain and tissue loss.
- Cats seeking shelter from cold weather might sleep under the hood of your vehicle and become injured or even be killed when the engine is started. Make sure to look under your hood, or bang on it and honk your horn before starting the vehicle to give cats a chance to escape. If you are a cat owner, consider keeping your feline friend indoors.
- Dogs’ sense of smell can be diminished in snow, making it easier for them to become lost. Keep dogs leashed or in fenced yards, and always keep them dressed with a collar, license, and ID tag. Have your pet implanted with a microchip for added protection. Click here to learn more about microchips.
- Keep your dog on a leash to help prevent her from running onto thin ice on creeks, ponds and lakes. Pulling a struggling dog from a hole in the ice can also put you in danger of falling in. Both you and your pet risk drowning, hypothermia and frostbite.
- Never leave a pet in your vehicle. This can be just as dangerous as in the hot summer months, only instead of causing heatstroke, a vehicle can act like a refrigerator and cause fatal freezing.
- Help pets stay safe when outdoors by providing a few extra layers of warmth. Keep your pet groomed and clean to provide better natural insulation from the cold weather, and avoid cutting their coat too short. Try dressing them in a pet sweater or jacket. Pet boots not only keep paws warm, but also keep pets feet safe from rough ice that can cause cuts. In addition, boots keep pets from licking and ingesting harmful salt, antifreeze and other chemicals that could otherwise be tracked in on unprotected paws.
- Keep pets away from automotive chemicals such as coolant and antifreeze, which are lethal poisons for dogs and cats.
- Learn more by visiting these helpful sites:
CARING FOR SENIOR PETS
Consider adopting a older pet
Many well-loved older pets will come to the Shelter because their owners can no longer afford to take care of them, the owner might have to move to assisted living or other living arrangement where pets are not allowed, or many other reasons. While senior pets are usually harder to place into a home, they still have a lot to offer and there are many advantages to owning a senior pet.
- For starters, with age comes experience. Older pets may already be housebroken or litter box trained, and may already know how to behave well in a home setting.
- An older pet’s personality, size, and needs are already established, so you know what you are in store for as opposed to the many surprises that await kitten and puppy owners.
- Their temperament is also typically calmer than a younger pet, and they are already well past the time-consuming kitten and puppy phase.
- Older pets can make terrific, loyal and loving companions. An older pet’s sense of appreciation and contentment is unsurpassed.
- Pets of all ages deserve a loving home. You will feel great about rescuing a wonderful pet that others might not want simply because of its age. Bringing a senior pet into your life could be the most rewarding experience you might have.
If you are open to adopting an older pet, come on out to Foothills Animal Shelter, or click here to view adoptable pets online. Check out all of the wonderful homeless pets who are available for adoption. No matter their age, they are all looking for a loving forever home.
Already have an older pet at home?
Keep your senior pet in tip-top shape
- Regular, moderate activity and daily playtime will help your senior pet stay healthy and avoid obesity which can put extra stress on your pet’s heart and on arthritic joints.
- Even the most energetic dogs slow down as they become older. Many elderly dogs try to keep up with their owner while running or walking and don’t know to rest when they’ve reached their limit. Keep an eye for signs that your dog appears tired and reluctant to continue exercising, and take that as an indicator to scale back your dog’s exercise regime. Talk with your vet about an appropriate frequency, length of time, and type of exercise for your senior dog.
- Dogs of all ages love to swim, and this is a great activity for senior dogs because it is low-impact and is easy on their weakening joints and muscles.
- Massage can help reduce your senior pet’s potential for arthritis and relief from muscular stiffness and discomfort. Plus, massage will help relax and calm your pet.
- If the weather is too cold and snowy to take an elderly pet outdoors, try playing hide and seek in your home. Hide, and have your dog use his sense of smell to seek you out. It’s great exercise and your dog will love always being “it.” Some cats will play this game, too – give it a try with your senior cat!
- Older cats are usually less adaptable to change, so you can reduce stress by maintaining normalcy in your household. If your cat has to be boarded while you are on vacation, keep her with a familiar blanket that already has her scent on it – or, better yet, have a pet sitter come to your home. Stress can be alleviated by giving more affection and attention during times of emotional upheaval.
Help your senior pet stay sharp
- Contrary to popular belief, an old dog – or old cat – can be taught new tricks. Animals of any age enjoy learning, and stimulating your older pet’s mind is a great way to make sure your pet is healthy and happy. Try out training techniques at home or register for a local class.
- Play “treasure hunt” by hiding small treats around your home for your senior pet. Also, try putting treats in a KONG toy for dogs so they can work at getting the reward, or hide cat treats in crumpled pieces of paper or an empty plastic water bottle (leave the lid off or cut a small hole in the side to allow the treat to fall out during play).
- Peak activity for cats occurs in the early morning and in the evening. Your senior cat might be more apt to play at those times and it’s a perfect opportunity to get her moving. Try using a wand or fishing pole-style toy to get her to chase. Rolling ping pong balls across a wood or tile floor will provide lots of interactive playtime, too.
- Although senior pets like familiarity, simple things such as rotating toys can bring some excitement into their lives.
- Take your senior dog on car rides and on walks in new locations so they can explore and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of different locations.
Senior pet wellness checks
Keep in mind that every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to 5–7 human years. In order stay current with your senior pet’s health care, visit your veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and any necessary laboratory tests. These regular visits will enable your veterinarian to diagnose any age-related illnesses at the earliest stage possible and begin treatment. In between vet visits, make sure you pay attention to any changes in your pet’s behavior, activity level or physical appearance.
NO SCAREDY CATS (OR DOGS) THIS HALLOWEEN!
Keep your pets safe during Halloween! Below are some tips to make sure our four-legged friends enjoy a stress-free holiday.
Treats and sweets may be tasty for humans, but they can be potentially harmful to pets. Candy should be for humans only.
- Chocolate is very dangerous to both dogs and cats.
- Candy that contains artificial sweeteners can be poisonous to dogs.
- Wrappers around the candy can also be a danger for choking.
Decorations can make a house feel more festive, but can be unsafe for pets.
- Although pumpkins and decorative corn are not toxic, they can still cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested by pets.
- Be careful if you put a candle in your pumpkin. Pets can easily knock these over and start a fire.
- Use fake spider webs sparingly. Keep out of reach from your dogs and cats since they can be a choking hazard.
Although most people enjoy dressing up on Halloween, many pets prefer to dress in their “birthday suits.”
- To avoid stress for your pet, only put them in a costume for a short time while being monitored.
- Make sure any costume is safe. They should not restrict movement, hearing, breathing or your pet’s ability to bark or meow.
Trick-or-treating is great fun for kids of all ages, but constant doorbells, knocking and shouting can be very frightening to pets.
- Animals should be kept in a separate room away from the door during trick-or-treat hours. Too many strangers may scare pets and cause them to dart out the door.
- Make sure your pets have proper identification, such as an ID tag, license and microchip.
How to welcome a new cat in to your home
Adding a new feline member to your family is very exciting. Being prepared will help both you and your new addition make the transition as easily as possible.
Supplies that you will need include bowls for food and water, cat food, a collar and ID tag, a cat carrier, litter boxes, litter, and a litter scoop. A pet bed, toys, treats, scratching post, nail trimmers and a brush are also good items to have on hand.
Feeding your new pet the same food he is used to is a good idea. You can gradually transition to a new food if you wish.
- Take your new pet to a veterinarian for an introductory check-up after adoption. Ask one of our customer care specialists about a free initial vet visit.
All pets at Foothills Animal Shelter are microchipped. If your pet’s collar and ID tag fall off or are removed, a microchip gives your pet a permanent form of identification which increases the likelihood that they will be returned home. We offer microchipping as a low-cost service to all pet owners. Click here to learn more.
It is very important to have your cat wear a collar and ID tag with your current contact information at all times – even if your cat has a microchip and even if your cat lives indoors. A collar with ID tag is the best way to make sure a lost cat is returned home. When a person finds your lost cat, they might not think to have it scanned for a microchip, but an ID tag will direct them immediately to you.
Take your time when introducing pets
While many cats have difficulty adjusting to change, introducing a new feline friend can be made simpler just by following a few tips:
Feline introductions can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Your resident pet and a new cat need to be introduced very slowly so they can get used to each other before a face-to-face meeting.
To allow time for the newcomer to adjust, keep her separated in a small room with her litter box, food, water and toys for several days. Feed your resident pet and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room so that they associate something enjoyable with each other’s smells. Be sure to spend plenty of time with your new kitty in her room, but do not ignore your resident pet.
Once your new cat is settled in and your resident pet is calm, you can introduce them face-to-face. If your resident pet is a cat, put your new cat in her carrier and allow your resident cat to enter the room. They may do some sniffing or they may sit and stare at each other. If your resident pet is a dog, put the dog in his crate or on a leash and allow your new cat to approach him at her own pace. If either pet shows signs of fearful or aggressive behavior, separate them. Continue short introductory meetings until the pets become more comfortable with each other.
For the first several weeks, it is a good idea to monitor their interactions closely before allowing both pets to roam freely while unsupervised.
Remember, it is better to be slow and safe to ensure a smooth transition for any cat. Rushing things could make a cat become fearful while in your home.
If need be, get advice from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.