Archive for October, 2010
I can hardly believe it’s that time of year again - brisk, cool air, the pungent scent of autumn, and leaves falling from wildly colored foliage. Labor Day is a mere memory, and Halloween is upon us.
Halloween is a fun time for children as well as adults. However, it can be a scary and stressful time for your pets. There are many Halloween safety hazards related to this October holiday of which you may not be aware. Here are some suggestions that will help keep your pets safe.
* Keep your pets indoors on Halloween night – especially black cats. Animals are at risk of being victims of holiday gags and pranks and can be treated cruelly. Also a pet that’s outside with trick-or-treaters may get spooked or stressed by the strange costumes, music, noises and voices of costumed people in the streets.
* Walk your dog before any trick-or-treaters begin their visits.
* When walking your dog, keep a firm grip on the leash and make sure he has an up-to-date I.D. tag.
* Don’t leave your dog in the backyard or in a car. He may be frightened disoriented, agitated, or even stolen.
* Keep your pet confined and away from the door while you are welcoming trick-or-treaters. Keep him in a room that is quiet, comfortable and far away from the holiday festivities.
* Keep Halloween candy out of your pet’s reach. Candy, especially chocolate, can be harmful, even fatal to pets. Pets who consume chocolate can experience vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, and seizures. Candies, cookies and cakes and chewing gum containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol, are especially poisonous to your pet. Candy wrappers, as well as candies and goodies wrapped in aluminum foil or cellophane can cause choking or intestinal obstruction.
* Make sure pets can’t reach candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations, or ornaments. Candles and jack-o’-lanterns can easily be fire hazards. Wires and chords for decorations can be harmful if chewed or ingested,
* Putting your pet in a Halloween costume can annoy him, and can pose safety and health hazards. If you insist on dressing him up, make sure that his costume is flame retardant and that he can breathe, hear, see and walk without impediment to his range of motion or movement.
Make your Halloween even more enjoyable knowing that your loving animal companion
is safe and sound. And, at this time of trick-or-treating, you may wish to give your pet a special treat of his own – a healthy dog or kitty goodie made especially for him!
Dog Behavior Specialist,Dr. Diane Pomerance
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Each of us has been adversely affected in some way or another by the seemingly endless troubled economy. Jobs have become more scarce, and for many simply not available. For many families, income has decreased significantly. Thus, many of us are spending less and carefully budgeting our finances to accommodate our own and our family’s most vital, immediate, and significant needs – food and shelter. How does a family pet fit into this equation?
As a Grief Recovery Specialist, I come into contact with a great number of people from all walks of life that dearly love their pets and regard them as family members. Most of the people I counsel are mourning the loss of a beloved animal companion and are seeking help coping with and recovering from their grief. It is only within the past few years that I have counseled an ever-expanding number of people suffering from financial hardship and deep emotional stress and who are wondering how they can afford to keep their pet.
I personally regard pet “guardianship” as a lifetime commitment. Once you have made the decision to incorporate a pet into your life, he is to be loved and treated as a family member or child. He is not to be discarded during times of emotional or financial duress. You would not “surrender” your human child to a welfare organization – why consider disposing of a beloved animal companion – particularly one who is older and is likely to be euthanized if owner-surrendered to an animal shelter or welfare organization? I think it is important to plan ahead to the best of your abilities. The unconditional love and loyalty of an animal companion can actually sustain and lift your spirits during difficult times. Don’t add to the emotional stress you are experiencing over finances by giving up your pet – the one who loves you no matter what!
I have some suggestions that may help you to be able to keep your pet.
1). Do not be afraid or embarrassed to let friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, fellow church or synagogue members, other members of the community know of your circumstances and ask for help.
2). Contact both local and national animal welfare and rescue organizations and ask them if they know of low-cost veterinarians, food pantries for pets (many rescue organizations receive help and donations from stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, PetSmart, Petco or dog and cat food manufacturers) and offer pet food to those who need it. Check with local pet product stores and see if they will sell you pet food from torn, damaged or extra pet food bags or cans
3). Discuss your situation with your veterinarian and seek health care for your pet that is truly essential and critical to your pet’s health and well-being.
4). Ask your vet for a viable and affordable payment plan. If your vet is unwilling to provide a reasonable payment plan, seek referrals from animal welfare or rescue organizations for reputable, low cost veterinarians.
5). Limit or curtail spending on unnecessary toys or accessories for your pet. Often a pet’s favorite toy is a tennis ball, Frisbee or cardboard box – something extremely inexpensive and simple.
6). Rather than paying for pet grooming, groom your pet yourself. If you are unable or unwilling to do this, contact a local animal shelter or rescue organization and find out if a volunteer can provide this service for a reduced fee.
7). Scale down whenever it is possible. Rather than hiring a pet sitter or taking your pet to doggie/kitty day care, ask animal loving friends, neighbors and/or family members to do the job.
8). Check with your local Meals on Wheels to find out if pet food is available through this organization.
9). Keep your pet safe and healthy by providing him with clean water, nutritious food and exercise so that he is less likely to become sick. In cold and hot weather, keep him primarily indoors.
10). Keep on keeping on, and take it one day at a time. Although it may involve some intricate financial juggling on your part, do your best to obtain help and advice from as many resources as you can.
There are many people who love their pets and organizations that care for and support our animal companions. They may be willing to assist you. Try not to become discouraged. Persevere! Locate and contact as many potential resources as you can. Most importantly, don’t give up your best friend.
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Throughout the years, my husband and I have rescued and adopted many older and senior dogs ranging in age from 4 to nearly 11 years old. Each has come with a different life experience. Some have been family pets; others were used as a means of guarding or protecting his family or family’s property; some have been dearly loved friends and companions; others have received little love, attention or affection. Many have been neglected, abandoned or abused through no fault of their own. These older dogs have lost their homes for various reasons: divorce or separation of his parents; the death or severe illness of his guardian, change in work schedule, the necessity of moving to a place where a dog is not permitted (i.e. nursing home or assisted living facility, and so on). There are many reasons dogs are surrendered to a shelter – it is a fallacy that these animals are in someway inferior or have health or behavioral problems. Each of the older dogs we have adopted has brought us great joy and deeply enriched our lives. There are many important reasons to adopt an older or senior dog:
1). You can save the life of a deserving animal in need of a loving home, and feel good about yourself. Older dogs are usually not considered as “adorable” or adoptable as puppies or young dogs. Puppies generally have a much better chance of being adopted than older dogs. Therefore, older dogs are much more likely to be euthanized than younger dogs. The joy and fulfillment of rescuing an older dog and providing it with quality of life are unparalleled.
2). You can experience the appreciation, gratitude, devotion and patience of an older dog which are deeply rewarding. She somehow “knows” and understands that she has been saved, and becomes a grateful, loyal and loving friend, companion and family member.
3). Older dogs tend to be calmer, are often obedience trained and socialized and require less supervision or monitoring than younger dogs. They may even form a deeper bond with you than a young dog.
4). When you adopt a senior dog, you know what you’re getting. When you adopt a puppy, you can never be sure of how large he will get or what he will actually end up looking like. When you adopt an older dog, his size and weight, personality, behavior, likes and dislikes are immediately apparent. – all of which make it easier to select the right dog for you and your lifestyle.
5). An adult dog is past the puppy-chewing phase. This phase can last from eight weeks to two years of age or even longer, This is when the dog is “exploring” virtually everything around him and can be a time of destruction of furniture, carpets, art work and other valuable possessions.
6). Adult dogs are better able to concentrate or focus and actually may be much easier to train than a puppy. The bonding that takes place during the training of an older dog is powerful and even deeper perhaps than that developed with a puppy. Adult dogs possess a maturity and range of experience that young dogs simply do not have.
7). Most adult dogs are already socialized. Puppies must be taught basically everything about life, while older dogs have generally already shared and learned from their relationships with other pets, people and children.
8). The first year of expenditures on an adult dog is typically much less than on a puppy that requires all sorts of vaccinations and examinations as well as obedience training. A healthy adult dog does not usually require the frequent visits to the vet that a puppy does.
9). Adult dogs are typically less active than a puppy. Of course, they require walks and playtime but don’t require high maintenance activity, a lot of exercise, walking and running and playtime. An older dog is much more content to share quality time with you and simply enjoying your attention and companionship.
10). Adult dogs are just as handsome and beautiful as puppies in their own way. They can make you feel young again and bring joy, fun and pleasure to your life!
An older or senior dog can make a wonderful addition to your life and family. By adopting an older dog, you can learn much about life and the aging process - in so many ways comparable to our own. You can teach your children respect and compassion for our older friends and family members.
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This morning I received an email typical of many I have been receiving during the past months. It was from a housewife and mother who, with her children, were evicted from their foreclosed home. They are now homeless and cannot afford to keep their beloved dog that has been a beloved member of their family for several years. The mother’s search to find her pet a home has thus far been unsuccessful, and she wrote to me seeking help finding a place for her dog to live. She is reluctant to surrender him to a shelter for fear he will be euthanised. As she wrote, “It’s very heartbreaking to give up a pet you love.”
With the economy in dire straits and so many people unemployed, it has become increasingly difficult to simply survive and keep food on the table let alone care for a pet. However, there are some ways you can prevent this from happening to you.
First, ask for assistance from friends, family members and neighbors. Can they temporarily foster your pet until you get back on your feet?
Seek advice from your veterinarian and vet staff as to people they may know who may be willing to foster, or if need be, keep your pet.
Do not hesitate to contact your local animal welfare and rescue organizations for advice. They may be able to help by providing your pet with temporary food and shelter and even find a long-term foster home for him.
As soon as you are aware that foreclosure may be imminent, utilize your time and local contacts to help you find an adopter for your pet. Don’t wait until you are actually evicted to request help from others.
Approach no-kill shelters and rescue organizations for advice as to how to handle your pet – they may know of facilities, resources or individuals that can help save your pet’s life.
Ask national animal welfare organizations such as the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) via their website www.aspca.org and HSUS (the Humane Society of the United States (www.hsus.org) for any advice or resources they can provide for you or your pet through this crisis period.
Accurately assess the expenses associated with keeping your pet and decide if it is truly too expensive or untenable to keep him. There are many doggie food pantries throughout the country that donate dog food to those in need. There are many veterinarians across the country who are either low-cost or will permit monthly payments on veterinary care. Is it truly unaffordable to keep your pet?
Do the best you can. Explore every option you possibly can from people who love and work with animals. Use such websites as Petfinder.com and others who post and cross-post adoptable animals all over the country. Ask community animal welfare organizations and food stores like Walmart, Petco, PetsMart or local stores for assistance. Band together with people in similar circumstances and ask your local grocery stores to contribute food from bags that may have been torn or boxes that may have been dented or damaged in some way to your pet loving community.
If you absolutely cannot keep your pet and cannot find a temporary or new permanent home for him, surrender him to a rescue group or no-kill shelter, which will hopefully put him up for adoption. Emphasize the wonderful personality and qualities your pet has, provide the shelter or rescue organization with as much useful information about his personality, likes, and dislikes as possible and let the shelter know that the ONLY reason you are giving him up is because you absolutely have no other recourse.
These are difficult and challenging times for so many of us. It is so sad to see our beloved and loyal pets suffer the consequences of our financial struggles. We must do our best to come to the aid of our pets and each other.
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