10 Tips to Prepare for Adopting a Dog

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Adopting a dog can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin, but bringing home a pup is also fun and exciting! This milestone is the first bonding moment of many between you and your new furry friend. To help ease that stress, here are ten things you can do to ensure a smooth transition for everyone.

1. Gather Their Supplies
Get everything you’ll need to make them safe and comfortable before bringing them home. In addition to the basics—a collar and leash, as well as food and water bowls—you’ll also need a dog bed, pet gate, toys, treats, and grooming supplies. It’s also a good idea to have training pads and enzymatic cleaner on hand for accidents in the early stages of house-training.

2. Prepare Your Home
Similar to babyproofing, it’s always a smart and safe idea to ready your space before your pup comes home. Walk through your home and stow away items that might be harmful to small for overly curious pups, and pick up those items you don’t want to get chewed.

You should prepare the rest of the family too: Discuss which family members will take up feeding, walking, and training. If other animals already live at home, be sure their shots are up-to-date and that the whole family has been dewormed, for everyone’s safety. And if you have any cats, you should have a designated dog-free area where they can retreat, giving them a way to acclimate to the new arrival’s excitement on their own time. This may seem like overkill to some, but this preparation helps keep your pooch safe and eases everyone’s transition process.

3. Assign a Safe Space for Them
Just as you would for existing pets, make the same private space for your new one. Some pet parents have an aversion to dog crates, but the nonprofit Best Friends holds that dogs actually see them as their own room to rest, much like a den. They also serve as a place to feel safe while they adjust. If you’d prefer not to use a crate, of course, use a pet gate to block off a room just for them. You can visit them there to help the bonding process, but keep kids and other pets out for the time being.

4. Plan How (and When) to Bring Them Home
If possible, take a few days off work or plan to pick your dog up on a weekend when you have free time. But don’t pick them up at the beginning of a holiday period; if they get used to you constantly being home, they can develop separation anxiety when you go back to work. Have someone else drive you to pick them up, or ride along to help comfort them while you drive. Don’t forget to take their collar and leash, and bring them straight home without making any distracting stops.

Ensure that you plan a quiet few days at home when your new pet arrives. Although your family and friends are dying to meet your new family member, hold off until your dog is settled.

5. Show Your Dog around the House
Let them explore and sniff on their own time. Show them where their bed, toys and water is. Ensure that you are able to prevent them from going to off limits areas and no go items.

6. Explore the Garden
Adopted dogs should have plenty of time and space to sniff out their new surroundings. If you’ve designated a potty space in your garden, lead them to it and reward them with a treat when they use it successfully.

7. Introduce the Family
It is recommended to bring family members and other dogs outside in a relatively neutral area, one at a time, to meet the new addition. Try to keep introductions low key, allowing them to get used to each other from a distance before introducing.. Interactions also do not have to happen on the first day. You can give them visual and scenting access without them being able to physically meet which will allow them to get used to each other over time. Keep other dogs on their leashes and supervise their interactions. Restrain kids (and other parents) from kissing or hugging the dog (however adorable they may be), but they’re free to make friends with a sniff and a treat.

8. Switch Your Dog’s Food Slowly
If you can, incorporate some of the food the shelter or breeder was feeding him, and gradually switch your dog’s food to the brand you intend to serve him regularly in order to avoid digestion issues due to too quick a change.

9. Begin Training Right Away
Even adult dogs who were previously house trained will require a little retraining.. If you plan to crate train your dog, introduce them to their crate right away, and practice allowing them access to the crate —with a toy or chew—for short periods without closing the door.. Puppies should be taken to Puppy School and adults to classes to ensure that your dog fits into society without a problem. You will also learn how to establish rules through consistency and positive reinforcement.

10. Get Them Checked by a Vet
Within a week of bringing them home, you should visit a veterinarian for a health check and to make sure they have all their vaccinations.

Adopting a dog is a big transition for both the dog and your family. Covering these basics will help your new dog feel secure in their new surroundings and make it easier to bond with your new wet-nosed pal.

Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Written By: Jean Marie Bauhaus
Website: www.hillspet.co.za

Just how smart are cats?

Image: Pixabay

It’s well known that cats are clever, perhaps even devious creatures, but just how smart are cats?

According to scientists, it’s not your imagination: Cats are far more intelligent than you may realize and far more stubborn.

What’s Going on in Her Brain?
You only have to observe cats for a short time to recognize that they’re highly intelligent beings. Cats have smaller brains compared to dogs, but Dr. Lorie Huston for PetMD explains, “relative brain size isn’t always the best indicator of intelligence. And the cat brain shares some amazing similarities with our own brains.” For example, Huston elaborates, each part of a cat’s brain is compartmentalized, specialized and connected to the others, allowing cats to understand, respond to and even manipulate their surroundings.

And as noted in Psychology Today by Dr. Berit Brogaard, “cats have more nerve cells in the visual areas of their brain, a part of the cerebral cortex [the area of the brain responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, planning, memory, and language-processing], than humans and most other mammals.” That’s why, for instance, your cat races from one end of the house to the other chasing a speck of dust that you don’t even see. She’s on a mission.

In addition to having top-notch vision, a cat’s memory, both long-term and short-term, is impeccable, which you know if your fur baby gives you the evil-eye when you pack your suitcase. She remembers the last time you left the house with that suitcase you were gone for ages and she isn’t happy about it.

What Does Science Say?
Another sign of cat smarts: refusing to participate in research studies in the first place.

David Grimm writes in Slate that two leading animal researchers with whom he has spoken with about cat intelligence have had great difficulty working with their subjects because cats simply wouldn’t participate in the experiments or didn’t follow instructions. Leading animal researcher Dr. Ádám Miklósi even had to go to cats’ homes to work because the kitties were so uncooperative in his lab. However, the more they learn about cats, the more scientists will be willing to give it a try. It’s just a matter of getting the cats to follow commands, which clearly is very complicated.

Who’s Smarter? Cats or Dogs?
So, the age-old question remains: Which animal is smarter, a cat or a dog?

It depends on who you ask. Dogs have been domesticated far longer than cats, are more “trainable” and are more social creatures, but this doesn’t mean cats aren’t as intelligent as dogs. It’s impossible to know for sure because cats are so tricky to study in the first place.

Dr. Miklósi, who typically studies dogs, discovered that like their canine counterparts, cats have the ability to understand what other animals, including humans, are communicating to them. Dr. Miklósi also determined that cats don’t ask their pet parents for help as much as dogs do, mainly because cats aren’t as “tuned in” to humans as dogs are. “They’re surfing other channels on the dial,” says Grimm, “and that’s ultimately what makes them so hard to study. Cats, as any owner knows, are highly intelligent beings. But to science, their minds may forever be a black box.” Isn’t it exactly this mysterious nature of cats that makes the animals so compelling?

It may take some time before scientists can more specifically answer the question, how smart are cats? What is known is that cats are impatient, they have strong cognitive decision-making skills, and they will walk away from you if they find you boring. In fact, they’re pretty good at taking your ego down a few notches.

But if a cat loves you, she loves you forever. With a good understanding of your cat’s intelligence, the two of you can form a strong bond for many years to come.

Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Written By: Christine O’Brien
Website: www.hillspet.co.za

How to groom and bath your cat

Image: Pixabay

Anyone who has a cat knows they are meticulous groomers. Most cats will spend a large part of the day grooming themselves but sometimes they may need a little extra help – for example, if they have been injured or if longer hair becomes tangled. So you should get your cat used to being handled and groomed as soon as possible (the sooner you start, the easier it will be for you in the long run).

  1. It’s best to groom your cat when she is tired and relaxed. If your cat doesn’t seem to like being groomed, just start with a little every day and her tolerance will soon increase. Be sure to lavish lots of love and praise on your cat after each grooming session – she may even start to view the grooming sessions as a special treat.
  2. If you have a long-haired cat, use a comb to groom her hair. Start with her favourite places (usually the chin and head) then progress to other areas. If you run into any matted areas, you may have to cut them out using a pair of blunt tipped scissors.
  3. If your cat is short-haired, you can groom her with a rubber brush. Remember to wet or dampen the brush before you start grooming as this will help to catch loose fur and keep it from flying around.
  4. Should your cat need a bath, ensure you have some pet friendly shampoo. Then close all windows and doors and make sure the room is warm.
  5. If your cat is scared or overwhelmed by the size of your bath, try using a bowl or sink instead. About 4 inches of lukewarm water is plenty – or just above your cat’s paws.
  6. First, clean your cat’s ears before you put her in the water. Swab her ears with a cotton bud which has been moistened with warm water. Only clean the visible parts of your cat’s ear and never attempt to clean the ear canal.
  7. Next, comb or brush your cat before you bath her – this will help to work out any loose fur.
  8. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, then pick your cat up by the scruff of her neck and gently place her in the shallow warm water.
  9. Wet your cat’s back, belly and legs. You may want to use a small plastic cup or jug. (Be warned that many cats will panic if you try to use a shower or spray attachment.)
  10. Apply the pet shampoo and massage it gently to distribute it evenly all over your cat before rinsing. Don’t apply too much shampoo or it will just make it more difficult to rinse off. It has been designed not to irritate their eyes and ears, but try and avoid these areas anyway.
  11. After rinsing, ensure you have a nice warm towel to dry your cat. If your cat is not afraid of the noise, you can blow dry her. Or, simply snuggle her dry in the towel.
  12. Don’t be surprised if she starts to groom herself again straight afterwards, it’s just her way of getting her fur the way she likes it.

Remember, don’t bathe your cat on a regular basis as this may disrupt the natural balance of oils in her skin and fur – but an occasional bath is fine, for example if she has rolled in something dirty and can’t clean herself.

Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Website: www.hillspet.co.za

Holiday tips for Pet Owners who care

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Safety Tips to Consider for YOUR Animals during the Holidays
The holiday is just around the corner and many people who go away, either take their animals with them or leave them behind.  Either way you need to plan and take safety precautions for all your animals.

Whether at home or with you on holiday, make sure your animals are up-to-date with all vaccinations, deworming, tick and flea treatments. Micro-chip your pet and make sure it is registered on multiple databases and working, before you leave as well as include a collar ID. Make sure your plan for your animals is clearly stated in your will.

Leaving your Pets at Home
Pet sitters can be a good option when you need someone to care for your pet while you’re away.  Animals should never be left alone, in my opinion, for more than even 12 hours.

  • Do your homework on the pet sitter by getting trusted references from people you know. It is important that your pet also gets along with this person. Book in time as pet sitters are booked well in advance for holidays. Look for ones that have completed special training, like behaviour or pet first aid.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure things go smoothly, so provide detailed instructions regarding feeding, medications, emergency contacts and other important information. Provide easily accessible and sufficient supplies including their food, grooming, toys, leashes, carriers or cleaning supplies in case of an accident.
  • Always have a backup plan (person) in place. List your pet sitter at your veterinarian, inform your vet you are away and provide a backup person to contact or to make decisions if you can’t be reached.
  • Properly pet-proof your home and escape-proof your yard because bored and lonely pets may get into more trouble than usual.

Taking your Pets with you on Holiday
If you’re planning on taking your pet with you on holiday, it’s important to honestly assess how stressed your dog or cat might be away from home and whether it’s a risk worth taking.  Plan the trip well!   

  • Travel safety! You shouldn’t allow your dog to ride unrestrained. A crate or safety harness (not a collar) can be used to restrain your pet in the car, but be sure that it has been crash-test certified for safety.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle!
  • Plan extra time for pit stops for them to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Plan to have clean up supplies on hand, along with your dog’s leash and harness, water bowl and fresh water to drink (preferably water from home which they are used to).
  • Be sure to plan meal times.  Ideally, feed your dog in the morning before you leave (some suggest about 3 hours before) and again at night once you’ve settled into your hotel. If you’ll be stopping to eat along the way, plan to do so at a location where your pet can accompany you.
  • When traveling with your pet, you’ll need to bring all necessities, including items like poop bags and food bowls, water, medication, grooming kit, but don’t forget to also pack some of your dog’s favourite toys, blankets and, depending on size, even his bed to remind him of home.
  • You should also make sure your dog is wearing a collar with a current ID tag at all times and pack a pet first aid kit in the event of an emergency. A recent photo on your phone or printed out is also recommended, in the event you become separated. Write down the numbers of emergency vet services along your route for in case.  
  • Remember the vaccination cards!

Keeping your Pets SAFE around the Pool, Lakes & the Beach 

  • Always supervise swims as not all pets are good swimmers.
  • Invest in a pet life jacket.
  • Rinse them off with clean water post-swim, removing chlorine, salt or bacteria. 
  • Avoid wet collars to prevent hot-spots.
  • Ears should be cleaned and dried after a swim.
  • Look out for the signs of heat stroke and provide cool shade areas as well as cool, fresh drinking water at all times.
  • Use animal-safe sunscreen for breeds who are prone to sunburn.
  • Learn pet CPR for an emergency.

Other dangers around water may include: Parasites and bacteria, water intoxication, salt water, seaweed, sand impaction, hot surfaces, picnic foods & foreign bodies, fishing hooks etc.

If you intend to bring your dog on the boat with you, remember a life jacket, sunscreen, fresh drinking water, providing shade, a leash, proper identification, have potty breaks, have a first aid kit and pay attention!

Taking your Pets on a Hike or Camping?

  • Make sure your dog has an up-to-date ID tag or collar. The fastest way for someone who finds your dog to get her back to you is to call the number on her ID tag.
  • Your dog will need frequent water breaks along the trail, so be prepared with a lightweight, collapsible travel bowl or a simple plastic container and plenty of fresh water. Stop often to offer her a drink, and especially if she’s panting a lot. Keeping her well-hydrated will also prevent her from drinking from a stagnant water source, which can harbor all kinds of pathogenic bacteria and parasites.
  • You’ll want to pack a few healthy snacks to feed her along the way as well, and don’t forget dog poop bags, especially if you’ll be hiking on heavily travelled trails. 
  • Remember a first aid kit with essential emergency items like gauze, scissors, or tape. 
  • Don’t forget your cell phone.
  • An emergency dog sling can be helpful when in remote areas.
  • Don’t let your pet chase wildlife as both can get injured.
  • If you are camping, make sure they are not cold, but also safe from camping hazards like fire.

pet Image by Helge Ely from Pixabay

Whether your pet is joining you on your holiday or you leave them home with supervision, it remains your responsibility to make sure they are ok!

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin
Website: www.thebulletin.co.za

Do you care enough about your animals to learn about keeping them safe? (Part 3)

Image: Pixabay

Education is Key to Helping Animals and their Owners and for changing Animal Welfare in the World!
Sadly, most people don’t spend nearly enough time educating themselves on how to improve their pets’ lives or how to help other animals or animal welfare organizations.

How safe are your Animals:

  • From getting out of the yard?
  • In and around your house?
  • When they are home alone?
  • When you are travelling or on holiday?
  • In an emergency?
  • When they are around your kids?

From getting out of your Yard:
Why do you think we advocate for keeping all animals, including cats, safe in your yard? We live in a cruel, unforgiving and sick world. If you think the streets are not safe for your kids, why would you let your pets roam the streets? There are many creative ways to KEEP YOUR CAT SAFE in your yard.

Image by The Paw Company on keeping cats safe in your yard

here is an increase in the theft of cats and dogs everywhere! Your pets are your responsibility and protecting them from being stolen should be a priority. You can do this more effectively if you understand the why & how of PET THEFT!

Please let your pets sleep inside your home.  They are not responsible for protecting you, but you should protect them.  When they sleep inside, both your family and your pets are safer. Dr. Rudolph Zinn from UNISA’s School of Criminal Justice conducted research into understanding and preventing house robbery in South Africa. Based on in-depth interviews with convicted robbers, dogs that sleep inside are one of the biggest deterrents for criminals.

There is an increase in the theft of cats and dogs everywhere! Your pets are your responsibility and protecting them from being stolen should be a priority. You can do this more effectively if you understand the why & how of PET THEFT!

Please let your pets sleep inside your home.  They are not responsible for protecting you, but you should protect them.  When they sleep inside, both your family and your pets are safer. Dr. Rudolph Zinn from UNISA’s School of Criminal Justice conducted research into understanding and preventing house robbery in South Africa. Based on in-depth interviews with convicted robbers, dogs that sleep inside are one of the biggest deterrents for criminals.

In & Around your House:
Poisoning of animals can be just malicious or it can be closely related to planned break-ins. It is important to know, in advance, what to do if this happens or how to minimize the risk. POISONING is probably one of the worse deaths a pet can experience. Get your poison rescue packs from the local animal welfare organizations and the SPCA. It can buy minutes which might mean the difference between life and death.

A requirement for your pets, required by law, includes that they must be protected from the elements.

Mismanaged trash has a devastating effect on the environment, but also creates a high risk of injury or death to your animals and others. Even though you might throw your trash in the garbage bin, where they land eventually can still impact the environment and hurt animals. Here are some things you can do, when DISPOSING OF LITTER in your garbage bin, to prevent other animals from suffering.

How many owners have just given bones to their dogs without thinking about it? Even though there might be some BONES that are relatively safe, bones are meant for recreation, not as food. When and how you give your dog a bone also matters. The basics are uncooked, large bones, supervised, for 10 -15 minutes 2 x per week.

Image by The Paw Company on hot weather pet safety.

When they are alone at Home:
Although through COVID-19 many pets have had their owners around more often, we understand that you can’t be with your pet all the time. How long they are left ALONE AT HOME, however, includes various factors. Sadly, we can share many horror stories of what happened to pets while owners were away or how many people will go away for days with no one checking in on them. This is highly irresponsible! They are your responsibility and you chose to be their guardian.

During the Holidays:
The holiday is just around the corner and many people who go away, either take their animals with them or leave them behind.  Either way, you need to plan and take safety precautions for all your animals.

Travelling with your animal family members can create wonderful memories, but it’s not always easy. Make sure you’re well-prepared before you hit the road. There are many things to consider before you take your PET ON A ROAD TRIP, including the temperament, size & safety of your pet.

Whether at home or WITH YOU ON HOLIDAY, make sure your animals are up-to-date with all vaccinations, deworming, and tick and flea treatments. Microchip your pet and make sure it is registered on multiple databases and working before you leave as well as include a collar ID. Make sure your plan for your animals is clearly stated in your will if something happens to you.

Christmas is almost here and you can feel the excitement in the air. A Christmas tree is a holiday staple for many homes, but are you aware of the dangers it poses for pets?

Remember that Christmas and easter gifts should never include live animals!

Image by Dr. Karen Becker on travel safety for pets.

In an Emergency:
Knowing what to do during an animal emergency can be the difference between life and death. When your animals suffer an injury or poisoning, knowing what FIRST AID to do can have a massive impact on their recovery, safety and comfort.  This is an important topic with much more to learn, but we touch on some of the basics.

Your pets are important members of your family, so they need to be included in your family’s EMERGENCY PLAN. To prepare for the unexpected follow these tips with your pets in mind:

  1. Make a plan.
  2. Build an emergency kit.
  3. Stay informed.

Do you have a FIRE ESCAPE PLAN which includes your pets?

Never tie up animals, especially not in extreme weather or potential floods/fire.

Around your Kids:
Many of us grew up with the tale of the rabbit and the tortoise, with a good life lesson in it, however, this lesson didn’t include how to care for them or HOW TO HANDLE THESE CREATURES physically. We do not support keeping tortoises or rabbits as pets and especially not for kids.  One of the biggest reasons for this is because there are very specific ways in which they should be handled and doing it wrong can be fatal!

CHOOSING A PET FOR YOUR CHILD is a big decision and not one to be taken lightly! Pets are a great way to learn responsibility and compassion, however, it should never be at the expense of an animal and parents should be very involved in the care.

Learning to spot the signs and teaching your children how to behave around pets is important when it comes to interactions between dogs & children. Children need to learn how to BEHAVE SAFELY near dogs and other animals. Dog bites are 100% preventable and the dog didn’t just bite out of nowhere……you missed all the signs and didn’t step in.

Your animals are your responsibility and keeping them safe is an important part of it. We also train our animals to keep them safe. 

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin
Website: www.thebulletin.co.za

 

Have you met your match? A matchmaking app like no other

Have you met your match?

A matchmaking app like no other

A new dating app is now available that will have even those in committed relationships scrolling to find what they are missing in their lives… with permission from their partners of course. You can do it while relaxing at home, fetching the kids from school, even while out for date night. It’s simple, easy… and guarantees satisfaction. 

The Pet Matchmaker App will have South Africans scrolling and swiping all day long. Looking for that new blonde, brunette or ginger has never been simpler – they are all there on your screen, looking for their forever homes. The Pet Matchmaker App makes the matchmaking process easier when looking for a family pet, a companion or even a cheeky cat with a love for mischief. With one App, you will have access to shelters from across South Africa, enabling pet parents to search for their purr-fect pet.  

Marycke Ackhurst from Hill’s Pet Nutrition says that the company has been invested in the development of the App as they are committed to clearing the shelters. “There are thousands of absolutely gorgeous cats and dogs in shelters around South Africa and we have created an easy and really fun way for pet parents to be able to find a pet that suits their personality, and lifestyle.” Unfortunately, many pets are surrendered to shelters through no fault of their own, and by adopting a pet you give them a second chance and open a space for another pet who might desperately need it.

Prospective pet parents can apply filters and customise their search when looking for their match. These filters help you find just what you are looking for. You can search by age, size, breed mix, coat colour, pattern and length, disposition, activity level and suitability with other family members. The shelter pets are profiled with their bio, photos, and videos.

“Think cupid meets Tinder with real love,” says Ackhurst, “and, even better, you can do this from anywhere, whether it be in the comfort of your home or while you are on the go, at any time of the day or night and you don’t have to visit the shelters until you find what you are looking for.”  

Of course, prospective adoptive parents will need to pass a home check with the regular adoption requirements being met before they are able to take their pet home. This app makes the match, but just like a real date there needs to be a spark for it to work. 

The purpose of the app is to get as many pets adopted so that we can clear the shelters and find forever homes. The Pet Matchmaker App brings the search into the comfort of your home and allows you to find the ‘One’ with ease. Well known South African celebrities Schalk Bezuidenhout, Thando Thabethe and Rachel Kolisi have come on board to support the launch of the App. Being pet parents themselves, they fully appreciate the joy a pet can bring. 

The Pet Matchmaker App is free to download on IOS and Android

Source: Hills Pet
Website:  www.hillspet.co.za

Do you care enough about your animals to learn about how to help them? (Part 2)

Image by The Paw Company – Responsible Pet Ownership

Education is Key to Helping Animals and their Owners and for Changing Animal Welfare in the World!
Shay Kelly said: “They say dogs are loyal, but they don’t actually get a choice where they live or whom they live with. Try to be the person they’d choose, if only they could!”

Sadly, most people do not spend nearly enough time educating themselves on how to improve their pets’ lives or how to help other animals or animal welfare organizations.

The privilege of sharing your life with an animal companion comes with responsibilities and this should not be taken lightly.  In addition to meeting your pet’s basic needs, there are some extremely important rules of responsible pet ownership you need to know, to keep your pet in good health and enjoying life. Are you a RESPONSIBLE PET GUARDIAN (owner)?

Part of being a responsible pet parent includes CHOOSING A GOOD VETERINARIAN for them, going for regular wellness checks as well as asking the right QUESTIONS FOR YOUR VET.

Do you want a proactive, wellness-oriented vet or a traditional one that only puts out “fires” as they arise? It is crucial to do your homework on your veterinarian.  Not all vets are allowed to work or are qualified to work with all species of animals, especially exotic pets!

Vet visits can be expensive and emergencies happen too which can be very expensive.  When you’re creating your household budget, it makes sense to include pet health care expenses and emergency funds as well as to be as proactive as possible when it comes to preventing lifestyle-related diseases. Never let your animals suffer because you did not plan for this!

Many pets have at least one operation (hopefully a spay or neuter) during their lifetime. Any pet parent feels worried when their fur-family member must go for an operation as well as feeling intimidated about caring for their pet after their surgery. You are not alone! We learned five things for successful AT-HOME CARE after your pet’s surgery from Dr. Meyers, a veterinary surgeon.

Whichever kind of pet you choose to be a guardian of and care for, it is crucial that you do proper research about all their needs, especially their ENCLOSURE SIZE and enrichment. Your pets need more than just food and water! The enclosure, sadly in most cases, is the area in which they will spend most of their time (hopefully not), so it must meet their needs! Just because a pet shop or even a vet sells, for example, a cage as an “African Grey cage”, it doesn’t mean it is the right size for them.

Animals are sentient beings and if we want the privilege to share our lives with them, we need to make sure that all their needs are met, including behavioural ENRICHMENT which all animals need! If you consider your pet to be “naughty”, then you are probably not meeting their needs! Dogs, for example, will dig holes, bark, roll in stuff etc. and although it is considered natural behaviour when done excessively, it can be an indication of boredom and that their needs are not being met.


Image by The Paw Company – Animal Enrichment

Even if your pet has a great enclosure, they still need exercise.  For dogs, walking can be good physical activity, but for most, it will not be sufficient exercise. Walks are essential for the well-being of canine companions and done correctly, with the right attitude, they can be very beneficial for us, as well.

Most healthy dogs and other pets retain their love to play throughout their lives. Choosing the right TOYS for your pets can be an important part of meeting their needs.

Then there is nutrition. It is important to remember that every type of food you feed your animals has the potential to do 1 of 2 things: HEAL or HARM. What are the food and treats you give them, doing to your animal’s body? Do they help reduce inflammation or cause it? Provide antioxidants or just empty calories? Provide polyphenols or just synthetic flavours and dyes? They need species-appropriate food too!

I am not a veterinarian or animal food specialist, so all this information comes from a trusted vet, who is also the co-author of The Forever Dog.  I have tried many of these for my animals and just like humans, animals, even from the same species, certainly have food preferences.

Cats aren’t big drinkers. Domestic cats evolved from desert-dwelling ancestors and there’s little water to be found in dry climates or habitats. That’s probably why navigating bodies of water for any purpose doesn’t come naturally to cats. It’s also why they aren’t as responsive as other animals to sensations of thirst or dehydration and must get most of the moisture their bodies need from the food they eat.

Cats’ ancestral diet was moisture-rich prey which helps meet their fluid requirements, so feeding your cat dry food only, which is <10% water, can create a problem.  It can cause chronic dehydration, leading to constipation and kidney stress, which is why vets recommend feeding cats moisture-rich diets. One of the first signs that a feline family member is sick is a lack of appetite. Cats can’t go without food for very long due to the risk of hepatic lipidosis, so it’s important to address the problem quickly.

Image by The Paw Company – Animal Training

Understanding your pets and training them is an important aspect of having animals and improving your relationship with them and it can keep them safe too. Pets don’t come trained. If you don’t train them, you can’t blame them! Sometimes addressing behavioural concerns is as simple as a few minutes a day or adding an extra food bowl for a cat or providing a sand pit for a dog.

If your animals are not trained, their behaviour may lead to a lot of frustrations for you, which in turn causes more confusion and stress for your pet and worsens the cycle. Many people surrender animals to shelters because of ” behavioural issues” when actually those issues are quite normal under circumstances and could easily be addressed if their owner cared enough to put in some time for training and meeting their needs.

One of the 5 freedoms of animals welfare includes the freedom to express natural behaviour and barking is natural behaviour! BARKING is a way to communicate, so it will never be the goal to stop barking entirely. Obviously, we don’t want constant or excessive barking, but then we need to find out what is being constantly communicated through the barking. Barking is a way your dog is telling you something is not right, which might include that their needs are not met, so listen up!

Planning to get a Parrot?

Parrots, especially African Grey parrots are popular pets, but unfortunately, many owners don’t realize the extreme level of care these highly intelligent, high-maintenance birds require.

The combination of their high intelligence and their long-life expectancy makes them one of the highest maintenance pets on the planet. Adding inexperienced owners to the mix often results in a long list of behavioural problems, health concerns and unhappiness for both the parrot and the owner. These animals can easily change homes 6-7 times in their lifetime. The number of surrendered and abandoned birds are sky-high worldwide. Through education and awareness, we want to help change that.

We have recently seen so many lost pet birds in our area. One thing that bird owners consider to prevent escape is CLIPPING THEIR WINGS. Although there are usually two sides to any issue and this is a controversial topic, wing clipping is not something I support!

Many people suffer from allergies and would agree it is not a pleasant experience, right?  Pets experience ALLERGIES too and it is our job as pet guardians (owners) to help them by addressing it with your trusted veterinarian. It is also important not to follow advice online from non-qualified individuals.

Something else many animals struggle with is noise-phobia. Some pets become anxious or panicked not only due to the noise of a storm (fireworks) but due to the flashes of lightning, rain, wind, odours, changes in barometric pressure or even static electricity and this could indicate a storm phobia. Storm phobias tend to get worse over time instead of better, so for this reason, the earlier you start treatment to help your pet cope, the better.

 

Image by The Paw Company – Emigrating with pets

Our No.1 rule when CHOOSING A NEW HOME for you and your family is to ensure that your pet can come along. Although there are very few exceptions, it is always sad to see people move without their pets.

Whether you’re a renter, looking to buy, or a homeowner looking for more (or less) square footage, house hunting is no easy task, especially if you have a pet to consider. Once you find what you think might be the perfect house, you’ll need to make sure it will also be a good fit for your furry family members.

Many people who emigrate dump their animals on an already overwhelmed system and when they get to the other country they just replace them. I can’t imagine emigrating and leaving some from my fur-family members behind. Thank you to those who do not leave them.  It is important to do your research well as there are steps to consider and costs to budget for. The regulations may differ between countries and you need to consider your pets early in the emigration process as it can easily take anything from 5-8 months.

It’s inevitable that pets die before most of their owners and saying goodbye is something every pet lover faces eventually.  It’s distressing to see any animal in pain, whether it’s our animal or not.  This decision usually happens in a grey area. We have the opportunity to put an end to their suffering. It’s a gift we can give when there’s no other alternative. The hardest part of owning any pet is the day you have to make the final decision for them.

Some pets might DIE AT HOME or you may find a deceased animal somewhere and most people do not know what to do if this happens.

Image by Dr. Karen Becker – Animal Euthanasia

Your pets are your responsibility.  If you can’t meet all their needs and provide them with the life they deserve, then please do not get them.  Reach out when you need help before the situation becomes overwhelming and the animals pay the price.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin
Website: www.thebulletin.co.za

Do you care enough for animals to read and learn more about how to help them? (Part 1)

Image by THE PAW COMPANY

Education is Key to Helping Animals and their Owners and for changing Animal Welfare in the World!
Sadly, most people don’t spend nearly enough time on educating themselves on how to improve their pets’ lives or how to help other animals or animal welfare organizations.  Below you can find a summary of many of the animal topics in this ANIMALS 101 series from the past 18 months. This is part one of three.

This week we will look back on the topics related to animal welfare issues and lost & found pet advice. Next week we will look at topics related to you and your pets and the week thereafter a summary of how to keep your pets safe in various situations.

When it comes to animals, I want to highlight a few things:

  • Animals are not things or commodities to GIFT and dispose of when it doesn’t suit you anymore. They are sentient beings who deserve proper care and love.
  • Animals have the right to the FIVE FREEDOMS of animal welfare and they are worth us fighting for. This includes all living creatures including those you see as “pests”.  Please choose HUMANE METHODS to control these populations. 
  • In animal welfare we don’t support the breeding and selling of animals or giving away animals away “FREE TO GOOD HOMES”.  We support responsible adoption through reputable animal welfare organizations and to SPAY & NEUTER your pets.

Please note that silly season is upon us and from November to New Year, selfish people, without regard for other human and animal life will be using and supporting FIREWORKS.  Please PREPARE your pets for this in advance! Noise phobia and the fear of fireworks (and storms) is a serious health concern for animals. Storm and fireworks phobias cause extreme anxiety and discomfort not only for our four-legged companions but also for human family members who feel helpless to ease their pet’s suffering as well as individuals with disabilities, war veterans, or those suffering from PTSD.

UNDERSTANDING THE MASSIVE OVERPOPULATION PROBLEM
Did you know that one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years? One female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in six years. Our biggest struggle in animal welfare is the massive overpopulation crisis worldwide. In South Africa, about 2800 healthy animals are humanely killed daily because there are just not enough homes for us to adopt our way out of this mess. In South Africa around at least 240 animals are surrended or brought in as strays per day just to SPCAs on average. This excludes hundreds of other animal welfare organizations. Some statistics show that 9/10 animals born in a domestic setting don’t find a home. So please help us by spaying and neutering your pets and sponsoring sterilization where possible. Here are some debunked SPAY & NEUTER MYTHS.

For most people, a cat is a cat and it is either your cat or someone else’s cat, but feral cats are a special kind!  Feral cats may also be referred to as street cats or gutter cats.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ADOPTION
South Africa is overflowing with unwanted dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, even rabbits, birds and other animals.  It’s sad to think that most of these animals in shelters will never experience a loving home and the security of the family they deserve.  We understand that it seems easier to buy a pet, but let us share with you why buying a pet is part of the problem.  The pet industry in South Africa is not regulated and pet shops do not promote responsible pet ownership (sterilizations, home checks, etc.). They make their profits by promoting impulse buying. These animals can also come from questionable sources like puppy mills or stolen stock.

The adoption process and policies might differ between organizations. The process usually includes an application form, meet & greet, home check, paying an adoption fee, signing an adoption contract, sterilization and follow-up. You will save in fees, but most importantly you will save a life.

Adopting animals. Image by THE PAW COMPANY

ABOUT ANIMAL CRUELTY
Animals do not have a voice, so we need to be their voices and you will never stop hearing ours! When was the last time you heard of anyone tuning themselves in for animal abuse? It just doesn’t happen often, if at all. Preventing animal cruelty is in all of our best interests. Animal cruelty is not only despicable in its own right, but it is often a gateway crime to violence against adults and children. Studies show that children who witness animal abuse are at a greater risk of becoming animal abusers themselves. First, it is important to UNDERSTAND CRUELTY & the SPCA MANDATE.  Once you learn to RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS of animal abuse, you’ll be better equipped to REPORT IT and help us fight cruelty.

There may also come a time when you encounter an injured animal in the streets.  If you can’t take them to a veterinarian immediately, you can contact the SPCA to REPORT THE EMERGENCY. This is for animals who appear to be without an owner at the time and injured or in distress and not for your pets.

Although there are some really BAD EXCUSES for surrendering animals, know that if you can no longer take care of your animals, you can surrender them safely at any SPCA. By law, they may not refuse any animal.  Please don’t abandon an animal as it is cruel and also a crime punishable by law.

Image by Bethal SPCA

Don’t be captured by captivity.  Ever had a problem with someone chaining their dog, yet you take your children to the CIRCUS where animals are exploited? CRUELTY COMES IN MANY FORMS. Cruelty is not only physical abuse and you might be cruel to animals through neglect or by supporting certain practices, products, or industries like the entertainment industry. Apart from the circus, aquariums, petting farms, animal rides and other cruel practices or industries, the TESTING ON ANIMALS, for any reason, is a particularly cruel industry. Animals testing can and has delayed advances in science by years. We encourage people to make ethical choices when it comes to anything related to animals.

When it comes to helping animals, most people want to shift the responsibility to an already overwhelmed system. Animals always need help everywhere and we are grateful to everyone who helps! Sadly, too often we hear the phrase “someone do something “, including a picture of an animal that is dumped, hurt, or lost. Many people take in an animal that is injured, dumped, or lost and that is the right thing to do, but the problem comes in with the next step when they want someone else to do something. Here are ways YOU CAN HELP.

LOST & FOUND PET ADVICE
There are constantly pets in the streets and this holds many dangers in a cruel world. If your pets are out-and-about, they might get injured, hit by a car, attacked by other animals or hurt other animals, get poisoned, get shot, get stolen to sell, breed, or for dog fights. They may also become a nuisance to others, especially cats. We understand that accidents happen and some animals are really escape artists, but one of a few reasons why animals get out is because it is easy!

You get climbers, runners, jumpers, diggers, chewers, some learn to open gates or some pets use a combination of the above. We have seen fox terriers climb trees to get out.  Sadly, some irresponsible owners think it is acceptable to let them roam the streets.  First, you need to understand why animals get out and then HOW TO SECURE YOUR YARD. If you can’t stop them from getting out, you are basically saying that your animals are smarter than you! Your pet, your responsibility!

When your pet goes missing, you can drastically improve the chances of being reunited with them, by having them MICROCHIPPED! Shockingly more than 50% of owners do not know much about their pet’s microchip and how it works. Many do not even know whether and where it is registered. You have to register it yourself on multiple databases!

Image by Verlore Diere Secunda

Apart from understanding why and how they get out as well as the importance of microchipping, there are important steps to take when YOU LOST or FOUND pet/animal. Here is a more in-depth article about FINDING A MISSING PARROT or CAT.

At times, WILD ANIMALS end up in our suburban areas.  There are various reasons for this. When it happens, many people are concerned about them and want to help, but are unsure about how to handle the situation or whom to contact. They can even put the animal’s life in danger by trying to help.

Never keep the wild animal as you might not be equipped to meet their needs and google is not a veterinarian or wildlife expert.  It is against the law to keep wild animals if you don’t have a permit, even if you plan to release them later. Stress is one of the biggest killers of rescued wildlife.

To highlight:  If they are injured, immediately take them to the vet or rehabilitator. If not injured or in immediate danger, then watch from a distance for a while. Many birds are learning to fly (fledging) and waiting for mom. Always contact a wildlife rehabilitator before you remove them or give food or water as it might worsen the situation.  Keep the animal in a warm (not too hot) quiet and dark place and handle them as little as possible.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin
Website: www.TheBulletin.co.za

Energy Levels in Dogs – How much do you know about it?

Energy levels – Image by The Paw Company

Did You Pick The Right Animal For Your Family When You Look At Energy Levels?
Dogs, just like people have unique personalities and energy levels (mentally & physically)and it can affect the way your dog responds to you. Dogs that have a lot more energy than their humans often don’t get enough exercise. This is why it’s very important to know your energy level, understand how to determine the dog/pet’s energy level and then to choose the right fit for your family.

  1. Mental energy refers to mood or state of mind. Are they anxious or calm? It can also refer to their ability or willingness to engage in cognitive activities.
  2. Physical energy can refer more to their athletic ability, stamina, endurance etc.

Dogtime.com shares how high-energy dogs are those who are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. Low-energy dogs on the other hand are the canine equivalent of a human couch potato, content to doze the day away.

Why is Energy Levels Important?
Many animals surrendered to shelters by their owners are surrendered because of “behavioural issues”. This can be barking, jumping, chewing everything, digging holes, aggression and others. Studies show, that when you look into that behaviour, it is actually what experts would consider normal behaviour for animals whose needs are not met by the owners. I mean, what do you expect a dog who gets no exercise, mental stimulation or even affection to do? Where should they put all this build-up energy?

We encourage people to adopt pets from shelters, but many adoptions are based only on “I like that dog” instead of the important factor of whether this animal will fit with your family’s lifestyle and energy levels and whether you are a good placement for that particular animal. Other factors like lifestyle, size, resources etc. are also important, but if you can’t meet the needs of a high-energy pet, then the pet will suffer and you will be left frustrated. This in turn can negatively affect the behaviour too.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t adopt a Border Collie or Jack Russell, but for your own and their benefit, it is better to choose the right fit. If you are however willing to put in the work, then go for it! If you have picked the “wrong” fit, there is still hope and you can also get help from professional and ethical behaviourists.

Levels of Energy:

Low-Energy Dogs – These dogs do not run around a lot and they can make good companions for inactive people.  These couch potatoes may require less exercise than athletic dogs and they’re usually content just snuggling next to you during the day. These types of dogs usually don’t have impressive athletic skills and are not as keen on learning advanced tricks or skills. Untrained low-energy dogs may wag their tails and come up to you, but they’re unlikely to jump up much against you. This type of energy level can include dogs that go to people and other dogs, but don’t try to play vigorously or for long periods at a time.  

Medium-Energy Dogs – These types of energy-level dogs are great companions for a casual run or play in a dog park. They usually are good at a lot of things and do well with hands-on training or teaching. These dogs are what you would refer to as “mellow” in general, however, they can have bursts of energy. Most people will do very well with a medium-energy dog. When you meet such a dog there might be some jumping up against you and casual play or socializing, but they will calm down relatively naturally after about 10 minutes or so without you having to encourage them too much to calm down.

High-Energy Dogs – These ones are what we would describe as busy-bodies.  Their tails wag at hundred km/h. They are always ready to go day or night, especially without regular exercise.  They tend to be most teachable fast learners and usually have great athletic skills. These dogs need a lot of mental stimulation and physical exercise.  If you are not keen on exercise, then this type of dog is not for you. When you meet such a dog, they are usually super excited (there are other reasons for this too) and will jump up and down and will insistent you to play with them.

Dog Breeds VS. Level of Energy

Low-energy dog breeds
Some of the most popular lower energy breeds include the Basset Hound, Bulldog, Dachshund, French Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terrier.

Medium-energy dog breeds
Some of the most popular medium-energy dog breeds are the Bloodhound, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Maltese, Scottish Terrier and Toy Poodle.

High-energy dog breeds
Notable choices for high-energy dog breeds include the Airedale Terrier, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Dalmatian, Irish Setter, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Jack Russell, Husky and Weimaraner.

Note that this is not an extensive list.

High-energy dog breeds
Notable choices for high-energy dog breeds include the Airedale Terrier, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Dalmatian, Irish Setter, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Jack Russell, Husky and Weimaraner.

Note that this is not an extensive list.

How to tell what Energy Level a Dog has?
Cesar Millan shares 5 ways to help determine a dog’s energy levels. Some factors that can affect energy levels include age, diet, health, breed, training, their human’s energy levels, the energy of other animals and more. You have to look at a combination of factors and not just at one aspect though in within context.

  • The breed – Their breed or mix can give you an idea of whether they might lean toward higher or lower energy. What they were bred for originally plays a role.
  • Try to see the dog in different circumstances – Every dog is different depending on where they are, who they’re with, and whether they’ve just come back from a long walk or have been locked in a house all day. If the dog is at a shelter, you may only be able to visit and not take her out for a “test drive,” but try to go at least once when the shelter is very busy and again when it’s very quiet to get a good idea.
  • Go for a walk – The walk is one way to judge a potential dog’s energy. Are they pulling and jumping or strolling along.
  • Try playtime – Find out what kind of games the dog likes to play.
  • Watch interactions with other dogs – Is your potential dog the one that tries to engage in play with every other dog, racing from group to group, or do they prefer to watch from the sidelines, engaging only a few dogs for a polite greeting and sniff, and not much more?

How to help Manage Energy Levels:

  • Reinforce the behaviours you like, not the ones you don’t like.
  • Be proactive and anticipate your dog’s needs.
  • Feed your dog using interactive toys.
  • Feed a species-appropriate diet.
  • Do some training and daily play.
  • Play ‘find it’ games.
  • Take your dog on field trips.
  • Set up play dates for your dog.
  • Sniffathons – Let them sniff.
  • Sensory gardens can be great stimulation.
  • Walks (there are 7 different kinds at least)

Important note: A small yard does not equal a small dog and vice versa. We believe breeds like Border Collies and Jack Russells (many in shelters), should be on farms or in big yards.

Zoomies – Image by Dr. Karen Becker

Interesting note:
Zoomies, technical name FRAPs (frenetic random activity periods), are sudden bursts of pent-up energy that cause pets to run at breakneck speeds back and forth or around and around, or sometimes, in a tight little circle. This behaviour is entirely normal for many animal species, both wild and domesticated, so there’s no need to worry unless there’s a risk your pet could be injured.

For shelters, this is an important topic to educate potential adopters about and to help match the dogs better with the right family. Keep in mind that even though this post is mostly about dogs, different animal species have different levels in general. Choose your pets wisely and meet all their needs, they are your responsibility!

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

Source: The Bulletin
Website: www.thebulletin.co.za

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New Limited Edition Festive Packaging for Montego’s Bags O’ Wags Treats

Spoil your fur-friends this festive season with Montego Pet Nutrition’s Bags O’ Wags limited-edition festive treats packaging. The Bags O’ Wags Chewies and Crunchies ranges have received a festive make-over to celebrate the upcoming season of jolly. These highly nutritious, wagtastically delicious treats are the lip-smacking spoil dogs love to get and are full of yummy goodness to complement their daily balanced diet.

Keep an eye out for these festive treats in-store or online, which can be found at a Bags O’ Wags retailer from a RRP R20,50. Visit www.montego.co.za  for more information.

Source: Montego
Website: www.montego.co.za

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