Health Benefits of Having a Pet

By: Erin Ford

Pet owners are well aware of the many benefits of pet ownership — unconditional love,

something to cherish at the end of the day, a being to care for beyond yourself. Beyond those fulfilling, life-affirming reasons, there are some tangible health benefits to being a pet owner. Below I’ve outlined some of the most common health gains that come from owning a pet.

 

  • Less stress and lower blood pressure

 

When petting a cat or dog, you brain can release the chemical oxytocin, which results in happiness and bonding. But you don’t even need to pet the animal to activate that chemical release. This study showed that even having a pet present during a stressful event helped people relax. The conclusion made was that people see their pets as supportive parts of their lives, and having them by their side during a challenging time was reassuring. This study, focused on hypertension, found that pet ownership helped with blood pressure during a stressful event more than a certain pharmaceutical drug.

 

  • Less anxiety, which decreases pain

 

Whenever you feel as though nothing’s going right in life — just look at your pet. No matter what mess-ups, challenges, or disappointments are going on in your life, your pet will still have unconditional love for you. As long as they have your love, some food, and a warm place to sleep, they are happy. Realizing this may help pull you out of an anxiety attack or a gloomy mood. The presence of pets is scientifically shown to decrease anxiety and can help with chronic pain. College campuses across the country bring therapy dogs onto campus, especially during finals week, to ease students stress and anxiety. (Here is a heartwarming article about the great impact service dogs have.) In addition, there are many therapy animals that people depend on for anxiety. This article is about Otitis the rescue cat, who in turn, rescued his owner in helping her with her severe anxiety. This study from Loyola University found that patients recovering from total joint replacement surgery who receive animal-assisted therapy (AAT) require less pain medication than those who do not experience this type of therapy.

 

 

Pets can be a great motivator to get outside and get active. Dogs need to be walked at least twice a day, which can motivate their owners. There have been times when I would have much rather snuggled on the couch under a blanket, but I couldn’t let my dog down. It benefits both you and your pup, as getting some fresh air and your heart pumping is an important part of each day. You can explore new places and go on hikes with your companion, so you’re never lonely. These outings can potentially introduce you to new people. If you take your dog to the dog park, you have a community of fellow dog-lovers to get to know. So, with your pet, you are introduced to new places and people.

While we may feel firsthand the emotional and mental health benefits that pet provide, just know that the next time you snuggle, pet, or walk your four-legged friend, your body will thank you for it!

You can read more on this topic by visiting:

 

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Benefits of Adopting an Older Pet

4 reasons

By: Erin Ford

When thinking of adopting a pet, many people gravitate towards the undeniably adorable puppies and kittens. When in shelters, they’re adopted incredibly quickly and effortlessly. But one thing that many people don’t consider is adopting an older pet. These animals are more often than not overlooked at shelters, waiting all the while for a new home. There are so many incredible benefits to adopting an older pet — below are the top 4!

  1. Predictable personality

 

 

When you adopt a puppy or kitten, you can’t be sure that their personality and needs mesh with your lifestyle. When adopting a pet that’s grown, you can already get a sense of their personality. Maybe they’re a lap cat who just wants to snuggle, or a dog who loves outdoor adventures. When you know what you’re getting, you can pick one that fits with what you’re looking for.

Bonus: Many older pets adopted out of the shelter can develop a new and improved demeanor once they come home. Spending months in a cage in a loud environment can be taxing. But once the pet is brought to a warm, loving home, they are less stressed out and start to come out of their shell. So sometimes, it can only get better!

  1. Trained and housebroken

Most of these pets have had homes before, so someone else has done the hard work of training the pet. Potty training is a lot of work, and for the most part,  if you adopt an adult dog, they’ll be accident-free. These pets are also more likely to know commands and right from wrong (no jumping on the counter!). Some pets are used to the family dynamic, and may already be used to spending time with kids, too!

  1. More calm and relaxed

One word that’s synonymous with puppies and kittens is ENERGETIC. Caring for them is similar to caring for a toddler. Kittens sprint throughout the house at all hours of the night, and puppies will eat almost anything off the floor. While this is just a part of pet ownership, for some that phase can be too much to handle. A pet that’s already grown has calmed down from that level of bursting energy, and are more easy going. Senior cats and dogs still need to be walked and/or played with, but they also appreciate naps, lounging in the sunlight, and being pet.

  1. Extremely grateful

Most importantly, adopting a senior pet is giving the animal comfort in its older years. Many senior animals in shelters don’t have too much time left, and those final years shouldn’t be spent in a cage. They should be spent relaxing with a loving family in a peaceful home.

When you bring these pets home, they are elated and so grateful to you for rescuing them. You’ve giving them a second chance at life.

If you’d like to see more on the impact of adopting a senior pet, take a look at some of the heartwarming links below.

This woman who adopted a senior cat, and he will not sleep unless she’s holding his paw!

This woman dedicates her life to finding homes for senior dogs.

‘No dog should die alone’: Photographer promotes senior pet adoption
Family adopted a 20 year old cat from the shelter, never expected how much love he had left to give
Man Devotes His Life To Adopting Old Dogs Who Can’t Find Forever Homes

5 Feline Diseases that are Preventable by Simple Vaccinations

 

by Traci Raley

cat-kitten-pet-cuteKitten season is upon us again!  That became evident to me last week when my husband brought home an orphaned kitten that he found at the job site where he was working.  It was good timing though.  Our other cats are all over the age of 8, and we had been threatening for awhile to bring home a new kitten to chase them around and keep them on their toes!  Because it’s been awhile since we’ve had a kitten in the house, I decided to do some reading to refresh my memory on kitten healthcare and vaccinations.  

Vaccinations protect cats and dogs against some nasty viral diseases, and can also protect their caregivers against unnecessary vet visits and large vet bills down the road.  The three most common vaccines for kittens are rabies, FVRCP, and FeLV.  By keeping up with your kitten’s vaccination schedule, these are some of the diseases you are protecting her against.  

  1. Rabies

This one is probably the most important, as rabies is zoonotic (it can be passed to humans) and is almost always fatal.  The rabies virus is passed through the saliva of an animal that is already infected, usually through a bite or open wound.  The virus then enters the nerves where it travels to the brain and then the salivary glands.  If your pet becomes infected with rabies, you will first notice changes in his or her behavior, followed by hyperactivity and unprovoked aggression.  This will soon progress into paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.  Recognizable symptoms include difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, and paralysis in the back legs.  There is no known cure for rabies.

2. Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpesvirus)

Rhinotracheitis is one of three viral infections covered by the FVRCP vaccine.  It is caused by a strain of the herpesvirus that is unique to felines.  Infection with this virus leads to a highly contagious upper respiratory disease that can be spread to other cats by direct contact or sneezing.  Symptoms can include sneezing, watery eyes, discharge from the nose and eyes, and fever.

3. Feline Calicivirus

This virus is also covered by the FVRCP vaccine.  Like the feline herpesvirus, it causes a severe upper respiratory tract infection, but it can also cause ulcers to form in your cat’s mouth.  It is transmitted by direct contact.

4. Feline Panleukopenia

Panleukopenia is the third disease that is covered by the FVRCP vaccine.  This disease is caused by the feline parvovirus, which is similar to the parvovirus that infects dogs.  This virus will cause vomiting, anorexia, foul-smelling diarrhea and dehydration.

     5. Feline Leukemia

The FeLV vaccine is usually only recommended for outdoor cats or cats who are likely to come in contact with the virus, as it can only be transmitted through close contact.  Symptoms of the disease can include anorexia, weight loss, anemia, diarrhea, and kidney problems.  Cats with feline leukemia need to be housed separately from other cats.  There is no cure for feline leukemia, but symptoms can be managed with anti-viral and other drugs.

More information on these vaccines can be found at http://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/kitten/health/evr_ct_kitten_vaccination_schedule, or by contacting your veterianarian.
Sources

http://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/kitten/health/evr_ct_kitten_vaccination_schedule

Common Diseases of Companion Animals by Alleice Summers, 2002, ISBN 0-323-01260-4

 

Meet Bella Claire!

unnamedBy: Michelle Pincus

Bella Claire is a beautiful 3 ½ year-old, female Pitbull/Hound mix who weighs 40lbs and is as sweet as sweet can be! A petite southern belle, she has a lot of energy and loves to run, play fetch or take casual walks on the beach. She loves car rides and will happily keep you company. When it’s time to take a break and snuggle, Bella Claire will save you a spot on the couch, right next to her! She loves belly rubs and hugs!

Keeping with her southern roots, this belle of the ball is extremely well-mannered and is working on her housetraining and leash walking with her foster. She can sit on command and is overall very obedient and food motivated. Bella Claire is very friendly with adults, older children and well behaved dogs, with proper introductions, of course! At this time, we are unsure about cats.

unnamed (1)Last month, Bella Claire was on the radio!  Check out her “interview” here.

If you are interested in welcoming Bella Claire into your family, please fill out an application at survivortails.org or email adoptions@survivortails.org with any questions.

Please note: We can only adopt in MA, CT and NH.

 

Keep your pup busy, while you’re busy

As much as we hate it, we have to leave our pets home alone while we go to work. If you’re anything like me, you feel guilty that you have to leave your dog for hours. So what can you do to keep your pet occupied during the day? Here are a few suggestions that I’ve found helpful.

Bella Claire

Bella Claire is available to adopt!

First, daycare. Yup, just like children, pets can go to daycare. And yes, they can get expensive, but many places offer package options and/or incentives for referring friends. My dog goes to daycare a few times a week. This way, my wallet isn’t sucked dry and my dog is getting good socialization as well as constant supervision, and constant access to water and grass. Here are a few places that I was able to find through a simple google search. I do recommend checking out the facility before signing your pet up to ensure the daycare is up to your standards. Some places are 100% concrete and others keep dogs separated all day. Each dog is different so it’s important to find a place that will fit your budget and your dog’s personality.

Similarly, hiring a dog walker can be a great benefit for dogs who may not socialize well or maybe don’t have high activity level. By hiring a dog walker you can get a more personalized schedule, as well as love and attention that is 100% directed to your dog. Local dog walkers can be found via a internet search, this does require a little more work on your part, but I also recommend using Care.com. Care.com allows you to search through dog walkers in your area and see their resumes, pay requirements and personal schedule.

Note: It also never hurts to get to know the local kids in your community, kids tend to get out of school before the work day ends and you don’t have to pay as much as professional! (speaking as a former after school dog walker).

zelda

Zelda is looking for her forever home!

And finally, a mind stimulating toy or puzzle can keep your dog busy and wear them out! Toys such as a frozen peanut butter filled kong, treat filled puzzle games or even a new toy. A kong can keep my dog busy for an hour or more. I give one to my pup if it’s a rainy day or if I know I won’t make it home for lunch. Once he gets a sniff of the peanut butter, he immediately forgets I’m leaving the house. I recommend buying two kongs, that way one is always in the freezer ready to go. Puzzles also give dogs a good break from the mundane. Figuring out how to move the pieces around in order to get a treat will keep a dog mentally stimulated and out of your hair. You can pick up puzzles from your local pet store like Petco. Another simple idea is to keep a “rainy day toy,” I keep a new toy hidden away for a day where I’m busy or the weather isn’t cooperating. Just breaking out a brand new ball or rope is so exciting for my dog, I can leave him running laps around the house in excitement.

Note: Puzzles and kongs are not recommended for all dogs. If your dog likes to destroy and swallow pieces of toys, it is not recommended to leave your dog unattended with toys or bones.

April is Canine Fitness Month

By: Erin Ford

april canine fitness month.png

Canine Fitness Month encourages us to take a step toward a healthier lifestyle for our four-legged family members.”

April is Canine Fitness Month, a chance for all dog owners to take a closer look at how they’re keeping their canines in shape. As many know, dogs can suffer from obesity just as humans do. This affliction brings a host of other issues, such as:

  • diabetes
  • damage to joints, bones, and ligaments
  • heart disease and increased blood pressure
  • decreased stamina and mobility
  • decreased liver function
  • decreased quality and length of life.

(Source: PetEducation.com)

None of us want our four-legged friends to suffer, which is why it’s important to make canine health and fitness a priority. Below are some ideas on how you can make sure your pooch is in tip-top shape.

Get walking

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this month make an extra effort to walk your dog longer and more often than usual. The proper length and frequency of walks depends on a lot of factors, such as the dog’s breed, size, health, capability, etc. A rule of thumb is to walk your dog at least twice a day, for approximately 15 minutes each time. (Source: DogingtonPost.com)

If you’re unable to fulfill this requirement, strongly consider hiring a dog walker. Getting active outside is absolutely crucial for a dog’s physical and mental well-being.

Active Play

Another activity beneficial for a dog’s physical and mental health is active play. This month, treat your dog to a new toy. You can play fetch, frisbee, tug of war, or even blow bubbles. If you live near a body of water, swimming is another great fitness activity for your dog.

Training

Signing your dog up for a fitness or training course at a local pet store is a fun way to get them active and engaged this month. A more potentially cost-effective and interactive option would be to create an obstacle course in your yard. Using various outdoor objects found in your shed or garage, you (or your kids!) can easily put together a fun, challenging series of obstacles to lead your dog through.

Shelter volunteering

If you’re not a dog owner, or your dog is already active and fit as can be, consider visiting your local shelter and see if you can volunteer as a dog walker. It will most likely require a bit of training, but it can be your mission to help shelter dogs get in shape as well.

At the end of the day, canine fitness influences owner fitness. It benefits the both of you to get out there and get active!

Sources:

https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-training/toys-and-play/ways-to-exercise-your-dog-indoors

http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/canine-fitness-month-april/

http://www.dogingtonpost.com/how-often-should-one-walk-their-dog/

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1659&aid=694

Why You Should Adopt Instead of Shop

why you should

By: Erin Ford

We’ve all been there, walking through the mall, when suddenly we see them — the adorable fluffy puppies bouncing in the window of the pet store. They lure us inside with their irresistible cuteness, and we end up thinking we couldn’t possibly leave the mall without one! While it’s wonderful to give a pet a loving home, you need to consider the other options. Shelters across the country are full of pets that are waiting for a loving home, and there are plenty of reasons to adopt instead of shop!

You’re saving a life

According to ASPCA, each year approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs, 1.4 million cats). Whether it’s due to overcrowding or a lack of resources, many potential pets don’t make it out of shelters. When you adopt a pet, you’re giving them a forever home.

Not supporting puppy mills

As many people know, puppy mills are places where intensive breeding of dogs take place under cruel, inhumane conditions. Their sole purpose is to make a profit, and the well-being of the dogs is not a priority. You can learn more about puppy mills here. Many pet stores get their animals from puppy mills, so inadvertently purchases from these store are keeping puppy mills in business.

Supporting volunteers and animal rescuers

In animal shelters, volunteers and employees work hard every day, out of the goodness of their hearts, to make sure these pets are taken care of. Those supporting animal shelters do it because they genuinely care about the animals. It brings so much joy to see pets that are adopted into loving home, because it shows that the pets you come to love have been adopted into a great home, and your work is done.

Making room for more animals

Millions of pets are in need of loving homes, and shelters fill up extremely quickly. There are more pets that need homes than spaces in shelters. By adopting your pet, you’re opening up a spot for another to have a safe place to live and be adopted by a loving family.

More affordable than pet stores

Many pet stores charge exorbitant fees for their pets — some can be over $1,000. Shelters are a much more affordable option, and all the money that’s earned goes right back into supporting the shelter. Many shelters have programs where volunteers and supporters sponsor pets, and thus the adoption fee is waived. In addition, many pets in shelters are up-to-date on vaccinations and veterinarian appointments.

Most importantly, you’re giving pets a second chance

Many pets in shelters have already been owned previously. This means that many of them are already housebroken, trained, and used to living with a family. Some of them are older, so they’re quite calm and there’s no need to handle the responsibilities of raising/training an energetic puppy or kitten. In addition, when a pet is surrendered to a shelter, they can become very upset and disheartened. Adopting them and bringing them to their new home gives them a new life, can rejuvenate their spirits, and makes them eternally grateful for giving them a second chance at life.

5 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

You might be thinking about a special person in your life this month, but February is also a time to think your pets! In addition to Valentine’s Day, we’re also celebrating National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. If you haven’t already, this is a great time to take your pet in to get spayed or neutered. And if you’re wondering whether or not you should, here are five reasons why it’s important.

1. It saves lives!

spay-neuter1

Source: Pixabay

According to the Humane Society, between six and eight million animals enter shelters every year. While about half of those will end up getting adopted, the rest are tragically euthanized. It’s clear that pet overpopulation is a big problem! When responsible pet owners spay and neuter their pets, they are working to solve that problem.

2. It’s good for your pet’s health.

spay-neuter2

Source: Pixabay

Spaying and neutering can reduce the risk of certain health conditions. For example, spaying female pets before their first litter can help to prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, while neutering your male pets can prevent prostate problems (see ASPCA). This article from USA Today lists spaying and neutering as one of the key factors related to longer life spans in pets.

3. It saves money.

spay-neuter3

Source: Pixabay

While some pet owners may shy away from the cost involved in spaying or neutering their pets, it really does save money in the end. If your pet is healthier, you’ll have fewer vet bills. Treating the type of health problems mentioned above can get expensive, so avoiding them is going to be good for your wallet. Caring for litters of puppies and kittens can be also be costly.

Fortunately, there are lost cost spay and neuter programs all over the country. Check out this Humane Society page for an easy provider search as well as some suggestions for what to do if you can’t find an affordable option in your area.

4. It can prevent bad behavior.

spay-neuter4

Source: Pixabay

Some unsavory pet habits are less often seen in spayed or neutered pets. These include the tendency to mark territory by spraying urine all over, mounting other pets or people, roaming, and aggression (see ASPCA). Of course, spaying or neutering won’t completely solve all of these problems, but it can go a long way toward preventing them.

5. It’s good for your community.

spay-neuter5

Source: Pixabay

Pet overpopulation isn’t just bad for the pets who end up getting euthanized, according to this WebMD article. It’s also bad for the community. Stray animals living on the streets can cause all sorts of problems, from property damage to car accidents. Seeing that your pets are spayed or neutered helps reduce the number of animals that wind up as strays.

Show your love for your pets, your community, and domestic animals everywhere by spaying or neutering your pets this month!

February’s Adoptable Dog is Scooter!

By: Torie Beckwithscooter-5

Scooter is a playful, loving, very photogenic pitbull-mix. She loves to cuddle up with a warm blanket and her favorite treat, hot dogs! She was brought to Survivor Tails 2 years ago as an owner surrender and warmed the hearts of everyone she met.

Scooter is currently living with a foster family, and is looking for a wonderful, permanent home where she can continue to live life to the fullest!

A Few Words from Scooter:

scooter-2

Hi Everyone!  I’m Scooter! I am 9 years old, but you would never know it! I am very energetic and love to play with my foster Mom Shawna, and everyone else I meet. I love making new friends and showing off my modeling pictures, I have been told that I’m very photogenic! 

 

I also love wearing sweaters and finding a warm cuddly blanketscooter-3 to take a nap. I really like naps! I am not a big fan of the cold, but I love to sun bathe and hang out by the pool in the summer time. Some of my favorite foods are hot dogs and bully sticks, but I have a pretty adventurous palate. I haven’t tried anything I don’t like.

I love living with my foster family, but I really want a home and a family of my own!  I’m great with adults and teenagers, but I’d like a home with no other dogs, cats, or children.  I’d love to join your home–you can see more pictures of me here.  And, you can fill out an application for me at www.survivortails.org.  

The Feeling Animal

By: Suzanne Brint

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Muppet was definitely expressing his feelings about how excited he was to celebrate the holidays with his Foster Mom!

We have all seen the pictures and videos of animals mourning the death of pack mates; dogs staying at the gravesite of deceased owners, service dogs sensing the onset of cancer or seizures and alerting their humans, dogs staying by the side of their injured owner. The anecdotal cases are beyond counting and the incidents seemingly more prevalent day by day. The internet and social media abound with examples. The question is, do animals have emotion? Do animals feel pain? Can they sense what we are feeling?

On the day my father died, I sat on the back porch steps of our home and sobbed. Head in my hands and elbows on my knees. I was very young and other than my mother, quite alone or so I thought. Until this happened: my dog, Max, a big bully dog, had been observing me obviously. He sat on the step next to me for a bit. Then gradually, he pushed his big head gently under my arms, stepped over my legs, and pressed his body against my chest, enveloping me in a hug. And there he stayed until I stopped crying. There was no choice but to hug him back and shed my tears into his furry neck.

Current research into animal awareness is exciting as well as moving. I think anyone who has loved their pets will be aware that their special four-legged friend possesses a unique intelligence and awareness. I have been accused of anthropomorphism meaning that I imbue the pet with human qualities. But those folks who doubt will at some point need to address their doubt considering scientific findings as time progresses. We also need to understand that our emotional life and the emotional life of animals is biological in nature. Having emotions keeps us aware, safe and loved in this threatening and often scary world. Emotions help us to replicate our species. Emotions allow us to connect socially.

The history of animal sentience dates back further than most realize. Historically, animals were thought to be a kind of machine and not have any capability of thought or feeling. This philosophy was detailed by the philosopher René Descarte in the 1600’s. This would indicate that all animal behavior would be based on instinct. Animals were treated as property and utilized for work or as a food source. But over the intervening years research is proving this mindset to be incorrect. We have learned that the brain structure of primates and even dogs is very like humans. Animals even have a brain chemistry like ours. It is thought not only do animals feel pain and experience suffering, but they feel pleasure and happiness as well. A compelling statement was made on July 7, 2012 by scientists attending a convention at Cambridge University in England. They issued the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness which stated, “convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals including all mammals and birds also possess these neurological substrates”. In other words, animals are sentient and can feel emotions, can suffer, can feel pain, and can feel enjoyment.

The legal courts are recently supporting evidence that animals indeed feel and can suffer. In 2016 the supreme court in Oregon determined that pets are not “mere property” and that the abused pet in this case could be examined much in the same way as an abused child. The judges determined that animals ‘are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear,’ the court wrote in the unanimous opinion—and so humans’ “dominion” over the animals, the opinion continues, also has nuanced contours, as do the humans’ privacy interests in the animals’. In other words, if you hurt an animal, you are hurting a living, feeling, cognizant creature and if the animal is harmed that abuse can be found a crime in a court of law.

So, without attempting to induce guilt or assign judgement on any reader’s beliefs about animals, there is remains only accepting that animals, across many species, have the ability to cognate and feel. It is not of human quality to be sure but their ability to feel is undeniable. My goal, if you made it through this piece, would be for you to consider or perhaps reconsider your view of animals and support their welfare on some level. It is my hope that through our evolutionary process we will move to a fully plant-based food system and bio-engineered protein products. It is happening as I write. If we get there, we may develop a world where human and animal pain and suffering is minimized and our mutual happiness maximized. I believe the deeper we empathize with animals, this act might allow us a pathway to more deeply empathize and become altruistic towards each other.

In the meantime, we have our pets to love and cherish. My own experience taught me that my pet could sense my feelings. I am now accepting that I must look into their eyes of those furry critters and feel theirs too.