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:

 

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.

 

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.

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.

Winter Safety Tips

By: Kaitlin McCarthy

With the temperature dropping and winter just around the corner, it is important to keep your pet warm and safe. Here are some tips to ensure your pet is comfortable during the cold months:

  • Between the cold weather outside and warm temperature inside, it’s important to
    protect your pet’s skin. Going between warm and cold temperatures quickly can irritate a dog’s skin.  The ASPCA recommends completely drying off your dog, along with his/her paw pads to remove any snowballs and/or salt from between their pads. Salt will not only irritate the skin, but if ingested can cause serious health issues.

  • If you plan on putting ice salt down on your driveway to prevent slippery spots, it’s important to use non-toxic or all natural products. Salt can get caught in a dog’s fur or between the pads of their paw and if ingested can make a dog seriously ill. Check out SafePaw or Paw Thaw at your local Petco. If you don’t feel comfortable putting ice salt down around your pet, you can also try dog boots. Boots will protect your dog’s paws from extreme cold, salt and sharp ice. It might take some time for your dog to adjust to something on his/her paws, but boots are the safest option.

  • Just like people, dogs can have a hard time warming up and staying warm once cold.
    It’s a good idea to give your pet extra blankets and pillows in the winter, especially if you dog has a short coat. Another option is to get your dog a heated dog bed or heating pad. Dr. Foster Smith online offer heated beds as well as other winter essentials. Don’t forget to keep your dog’s bed away from windows and vents, cold air can creep in giving your dog more than a cold nose.

  • For families with cats, particularly outdoor cats, it is important to provide a safe and warm haven in the event your cat is not able to get inside. Purchasing or creating a shelter can ensure your cat has a place to go in the middle of the night or when mother nature decides to let it snow. Basic shelters can be created with items from a local Home Depot or Lowes.

Adopting a Pet from Survivor Tails? Here’s what you need to know!

By: Alex Cheng, Adoption Coordinator

So you’re interested in adding a furry family member, and you’ve decided to turn to rescue! That’s AWESOME – congratulations on such an amazing decision to save a life. You’re probably super excited to get started and eager to give a pal a forever home; we’re equally as excited to work with you to find your perfect match!

Survivor Tails Animal Rescue’s most important mission is advocating for our furry friends who can’t advocate for themselves, and that includes matching them with their perfect forever home. Sometimes, the adoption process can be frustrating and confusing, and we completely understand.

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This is Ricks!  And he is adoptable through Survivor Tails!

You’re asking for an application, and an adoption phone interview, and a home visit. Why is this such an involved process?

It is a very involved process, and it takes many volunteers to help one animal find their forever home. When adopting animals out to forever families, we want to make sure everything is a perfect fit, and that the animal will be safe, happy and even spoiled in their new home. The process is meant for us to really get to know you, so that we’re absolutely sure that both the animal and your family will be completely at ease with the new addition.

A home visit seems kind of invasive and stressful!

The home visit portion of the adoption process is not meant to be invasive or stressful! We’re not here to be nitpicky about how you keep your house – we want to make sure that your new furry family member will be safe in their new home. We’ll ask for a tour, and look for areas of potential concern. Many times, your Adoption Coordinator will send you home visit notes! These are usually minor things, such as, “Noted some exposed wires – please find a way to put these out of Fido’s reach during decompression period until you know his chewing habits.” If you’re worried about the home visit, ask your Adoption Coordinator what to expect. They’re more than happy to help you out!

I’ve emailed you and you haven’t responded 😦

We respond to all inquiries from adopters! We understand that you’re excited, and we’re excited for you, too. Unfortunately, we can’t always respond super-fast, and our usual response rate is within 72 hours. Just remember that all of us are volunteers, and we have full-time jobs, families, pets and lives outside of rescue, which means we aren’t always manning our inboxes 🙂

10-14 days to be approved to adopt a dog?! But I can just walk into a shelter and take a dog home today!

You could, yes! And if you decide to go the shelter route, that’s great – you’re saving a life there, too. It takes a village to adopt out a dog at Survivor Tails: each application is worked on by at least 3 volunteers! Sometimes everything happens fast, but sometimes volunteers need a few extra days to complete a task. We’re all volunteers, after all! We’re working hard to make sure every dog is matched perfectly with a family.

I’m terrified of being denied the ability to adopt.

Survivor Tails will not deny you the ability the adopt unless we truly believe that the animal will not be a good fit for your home. We will work with you at every step to ensure that you understand what’s happening throughout the entire adoption process. We don’t want to deny any adopter – in fact, the more adopters we approve, the more animals we can adopt out!

Oh my gosh, I’ve talked to so many people, and I don’t know who to go to with questions now!

Not to fret, you can always ask your Adoption Coordinator anytime you’re not sure where to turn. That’s what they’re there for 🙂

We hope this has answered some of the questions surrounding Survivor Tails’ adoption process! If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below, or to email adoptions@survivortails.org  We’re happy to help – and if we get more questions, we can do a FAQ part two on the adoption process!