Six Key Ways to Keep Your Pets Healthy

Many people treat their pets like family–which is the only way that we at FoMA see them! However, unconditional love and affection alone are not enough to ensure their total health. We tend to overlook the fact that our pets, like us, have the capacity to become sick and can be at risk for a diverse range of illnesses and disorders. While most of your pet’s ailments will be treatable, there are many conditions that could become deadly if not treated properly or in time. 

 

Taking them to the vet for annual check-ups, as well as monitoring their health from home, is just another way to show love to your pet.

 

Here are six different ways you can stay on-top of your pet’s health care to ensure they live the healthiest and happiest life possible.

 

Take Your Pet to the Vet at Least Once Per Year

Whether it’s for financial reasons, time-constraints, or even from the hassle of getting a fearful 70 lb dog inside the car or wrangling a stubborn cat into a carrier and on the way to a dreaded appointment, pet owners will sometimes postpone crucial veterinary visits. Routine vet checkups shouldn’t be scary. While it might seem like every trip to the vet takes a toll on your bank account, keeping on top of your pet’s basic veterinary needs will save you greatly in the long run. Just like humans, cats and dogs thrive and are at their healthiest when they are regularly seen by a medical professional, receive their shots and vaccinations, and are checked for common diseases. Most medical conditions your dog or cat can contract will only get worse, and more expensive, if left untreated.

 

Keep Your Eyes Open for Signs of Illness at Home

There are many ways your vet can determine if something is wrong with your pet’s health. However, often YOU will be the first one to notice that they are acting “off.” Signs such as loss of appetite, changes in personality, troubles with urination and defecation, or respiratory symptoms such as having trouble breathing can all be signs of an underlying health issue and should be taken seriously. Never ignore changes in your pet and trust your intuition: if you notice something isn’t right, you are probably onto something. Address it before it snowballs into a more serious condition by contacting your veterinarian and following their advice. Other signs from your pet such as bleeding, paralysis, seizing, or your pet expressing that they are in pain require immediate attention. Make sure that you have the phone number of a reputable 24/7 animal hospital at all times so that you know where to go in case of an emergency.

akcpetinsurance.com

Stay Up-To-Date on Your Pet’s Vaccinations

There are so many good reasons to vaccinate your pet. Despite this, according to a report from TIME, more than 35% of cats are not vaccinated, and about 25% of dogs.

 

Why vaccinate? For starters, it helps them build essential immunity against dangerous disease-causing organisms. There are core vaccinations that are mandated by law, like the rabies vaccine, and also others like the parvovirus or distemper vaccines  that are essential for your pet  to keep them healthy and you plan to have them socialize with other animals. Even if you plan to keep your dog or cat at home, you never know when or if they will escape and unwittingly encounter another animal. If your pet isn’t up-to-date on vaccinations, now is the time to do so–take them to the vet!

Always Choose to Spay or Neuter

An important duty you have as a pet owner is to make sure that you are not contributing to the nationwide issue of pet overpopulation. Spaying or neutering your pet is crucial and decreases the number of homeless pets by preventing accidental pregnancies in pets. It also greatly benefits your pet’s health and decreases the chances for illnesses in the future. A study by Banfield Pet Hospitals on a database of 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats concluded that neutered male dogs lived 18% longer and spayed female dogs lived 23% longer than dogs that were not fixed. Spayed female cats in the study lived 39% longer and neutered male cats lived 62% longer than those not fixed.

A good question to consider is when to spay or neuter your pet. The appropriate age for dogs is six to nine months, and for cats is as young as eight weeks old. Another great benefit to fixing your pet is that it is cost-effective. Having to take care of a litter of puppies or kittens might be adorable at first thought, but wait until you see the expenses pile up as you care for the accident puppies! You have exponentially increased the mouths you need to feed and it will be more financially demanding. . Say it with us: spay and neuter!

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Keep Your Pet Well-Groomed

Grooming your pet can be fun and rewarding for both parties involved. And, believe it or not, grooming is also an important part of keeping your pet healthy. Pets should be groomed not only to stay clean, but also to eliminate bacteria that can build up on their skin, keep them free of itchy dead skin and fur, and prevent them from getting painful tangles, knots, and overly long nails. You can also use grooming as an opportunity to check your pet for fleas and ticks and look for other abnormalities on their body that might indicate an underlying issue. Things to look for include: new areas of discoloration on their skin, bumps, lumps, and places where your pet seems to be losing their hair. Taking your pet to the vet and asking them how to check for basic physical fitness, as well as establish the proper grooming frequency, can help you create the optimal grooming routine for your pet.

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Feed Them Right and Get Them Moving

Ask any veterinarian: the fundamental building blocks of your pet’s health are their exercise and diet regimen. Making sure your pet gets the right food and exercise will also mean better health and less medical trips down the road. Pet obesity has become a major issue in the United States: The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that in the United States, veterinarians now classify more than 100 million dogs and cats as overweight or obese, up from 80 million five years ago. Not only will the proper nutrition and exercise help your pet keep off extra pounds, which can lead to medical conditions such as diabetes and aggravate joints and bones, just like humans, but your pets need essential vitamins and minerals to be at their best. If you’re not sure what food is the right one for your pet, do research online and talk to your veterinarian.

Does Medical Care for Your Pet Scare you? Think About Getting Pet Insurance

Last but not least, pet insurance is something that is becoming more popular and more affordable. This  is definitely something you should consider if you want to save money in the long run on vet bills. Not sure if it is worth it? Consider how prepared you are to deal with an unexpected bill that could be upwards of thousands of dollars. Dive deep into the types of pet insurance that exist and if they cover the breed of your pet as certain breeds are more susceptible to certain diseases, so breed is always factored into the insurance price you end up paying. 

In conclusion, make sure you have a plan in place to attend to these six key areas to ensure your pet has a long, happy, and healthy life. You’ll be glad you did.

Back to Work (or school)? Here’s How to Help Your Pet Adjust

As many of us begin to make the transition back to in-person work and school, our pets may be left with newly-developed separation anxiety. If you are concerned about how your pet will respond to your change in routine, you’re not alone.While you four-legged friends have probably loved having you home during quarantine and soaking up all of the snuggles and extra quality time, the increased attention can make it that much harder for them to re-adjust once your schedule changes again.

 

An estimated 20-40% of dogs struggle with separation anxiety, even under normal circumstances. That percentage is especially prevalent in rescue animals, who often have experienced some sort of trauma from abandonment in their past. While separation anxiety is less common in cats, it can still happen, especially when a feline has an extremely strong bond with its owner.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to help your pet overcome these anxieties.

 

Keep Your Routine as Consistent as Possible

If you are returning to work or school, even if your schedule is flexible, your furry friends will do better if you leave the house and return to the house at about the same time everyday. They will also respond positively to “signal” elements of your routine, such as walking them as soon as you come home, or feeding them in the morning before you leave. They will learn to associate these repeated actions at specific times with the normalcy of your coming and going. And, if you haven’t returned to work or school yet, keeping mealtimes, walks, and playtime the same may aid in building a blueprint that will help your pet adjust to your normal work or school schedule.

Akc.org

 

Make Your Transition Gradual

If you can, try to make a gradual transition from spending nonstop time with your pet to going back to your regular work or school schedule. A sudden, drastic decrease in time spent with your pet can be difficult for them to understand, especially if they’ve become used to having you around constantly during quarantine. To make the gradual shift, give them shorter time periods alone at home while you go out for errands, or perhaps just leave them alone in another room with toys or enrichment items to entertain them so they become comfortable being by themselves for periods of time. If your school schedule or employer is flexible enough to allow it, you can also start your return to the office or classroom for half a day at a time and build back to a full day working from the office. This way the transition is not as abrupt or stressful for your pet. Giving them time to acclimate is extremely helpful in mitigating potential separation anxiety.

Invest in Anxiety-Relieving Toys

Interactive toys may be a great way for your pet to stay occupied while you’re away from home. Many pets who suffer from separation anxiety may take it out on your furniture or look for other ways to entertain themselves, so distract them in constructive ways to keep them calm and build confidence. You can check websites like Chewy or Amazon for some cost-effective options that will challenge your pet’s mind and help relax your pet while you’re away. For cats, make sure they have a cat tree or other way of climbing up to be able to see the outside world from a window, as this can help relieve anxiety. Pets that are food-motivated may do better with anxiety-relieving toys such as a Kong stuffed with frozen peanut butter or a long-lasting, digestive safe bone or treat. These are a great choice and giving it to your pet right before you leave also helps establish positive associations in their minds with your departure. If you shop on Amazon.com, remember to go to smile.amazon.com for all of your shopping and designate FoMA as your charity of choice!

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Leave on TV or Music

Do your part and put on some Animal Planet! Soothing music or a TV show may make your pet feel more comfortable and relaxed while you’re away. Auditory and visual stimulation can help keep them distracted while alone in your home and also simulate the sounds they are used to hearing when their humans are in the house. According to Hillspet.com, calming music, such as classical music, helped to calm anxious cats in one study when owners were out of the house. There is even a digital streaming channel called DogTV made especially for dogs that is customized with colors and sounds that they hear best. On DogTV, there are three categories to choose from: relaxation, stimulation or exposure. Relaxation helps dogs with stress and anxiety relief with soothing music and visuals; this is great for a dog with anxiety. Stimulation helps your dog be mentally stimulated while home alone and uses sounds and video to keep your dog engaged while you’re away. Exposure is great for a dog that is simply overly attached, keeping them occupied by providing different types of stimuli. 

Vetstreet.com

Schedule Active Time

If you’re going to be spending less time at home with your pet, make sure to schedule time to be active with them before you leave every morning and when you return at night to get some of that pent up energy out. A long walk with your dog or playing with your cat could help release some of the anxiety they feel and tire them out so they will be more restful while you are gone. Instead of getting into anxiety-fueled destructive activities, they’re more likely to sleep and spend some relaxed time alone.

Thesprucepets.com

Consider Medication

Just like humans, dogs and cats can also suffer from anxiety and depression. If your change of schedule is particularly tough on your pet, consult your veterinarian about supplements and medications that could help. There are numerous remedies available for both dogs and cats with anxiety, ranging from herbal and even pet specific CBD-based supplements to clinically prescribed drugs. Most anxiety medications have few side effects so the benefits to your pet’s quality of life could be substantial if proven to be helpful for their anxiety.  

 

Ultimately, each individual pet is different, and it often takes trial and error to crack the code to your pet’s anxiety. If you are having an especially difficult time, it is also a great idea to reach out to a certified trainer or veterinary behaviorist who can help you help your pet with your next transition. 

 

Summer Safety Tips for Dogs

Although this summer looks drastically different from the ones we are used to, for our pets it still holds many of the same adventures they relish. Here in South Florida, some pups love to take a dip in the pool or in the ocean at the dog beach, spend more time outside in the backyard, go on walks, and even accompany their human parents on road trips–whether across the state or across town. Make sure that this summer is one to remember in a good way, by keeping your dog safe at all times.

 

Swim Smart

While some dogs are natural-born swimmers, other dogs simply aren’t built for the water so don’t assume that your dog will be able to swim. Bulldogs, dachshunds, and pug-type dogs with short snouts are examples of dogs that aren’t naturally gifted at aquatics due to their short stature and breathing issues. If you’re not sure whether your pooch will sink or swim–start them off in a kiddie pool or other controlled environment when you can be in the water with them to help them and watch them closely.  It is always best to use a doggie life jacket for them to keep them safe and afloat in the water and is a must if you are taking your dog on a boat, paddleboarding or out for another activity where they might fall in the water as even dogs who are great swimmers can tire out and be at risk of drowning.  Keep in mind that drinking pond and ocean water is bad for dogs and can cause nausea, dehydration, or even poisoning from toxins in the water so pack plenty of fresh water for them to drink during their swimming adventure.

Beat the Heat

By far the most dangerous element of summer for dogs, especially in South Florida, is the heat. Scorching temperatures can be painful or even fatal for dogs if not monitored closely. 

Rule number one of summer–or anytime–is never, ever, ever leave your dog alone in the car. Even with the windows cracked temperatures can rise drastically in minutes and heatstroke can be deadly to dogs of all sizes and breeds. If you see a dog in a parked car with the windows up, call the police immediately. Laws in many states, including Florida, make it illegal to leave your animal unattended in a parked car with the windows up and legal for concerned Good Samaritans to smash a window if they believe the dog to be at risk.

Hot pavement is another hazard for pets during the summer months. Dogs’ paws are sensitive just like human feet and hands and a good rule of thumb is that if the pavement is too hot for you to walk on with your bare feet, it is far too hot for your dog. To avoid causing your dog pain, stick to shaded areas, grass, sidewalks (non-asphalt), or, if you have to walk across hot asphalt you can put protective booties on your pup that will cushion their feet against the heat.

Lastly, keep in mind that even if you are outside and in the shade, warmer temperatures make it more difficult for dogs to perform physical activities. A pup that may have been able to walk three miles in  cooler temperatures may not be able to walk nearly the same distance in hotter temperatures. In the extreme heat of summer, cut back on physical activity, keep your dog well-hydrated and monitor for signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If your dog is panting, warm to the touch, has dry nose, vomits, is unresponsive to commands, or is staggering, stop all activity and bring your dog indoors or to a shady area . If your pet’s condition is severe and does not improve quickly, take your dog to an emergency veterinarian immediately.

 

Don’t Forget Fireworks

Fourth of July may be long gone, but Miamians like to celebrate well beyond with backyard holiday fireworks. Between festivals, parties, sporting events and backyard fiestas, it can feel like every summer night sky is filled with loud noises and bright lights, that while fun for you, may be downright terrifying for your pup.  To keep your dog safe, remember to plan for the worst and ensure that your pet’s ID tags are on at all times and that their microchips are up-to-date and registered. Is your dog a Houdini who can slip out of its collar? Try a harness instead and remember to never, ever let your dog off-leash in an open area. Even the most obedient dogs can be spooked and run away because of fireworks or other loud noises.

 

Be Hurricane Ready

In addition to the normal hazards of summer in South Florida, June through November also bring us hurricane season. In addition to preparing your home or apartment for a potential natural disaster, it’s important to have a plan in place for your pet’s safety. For starters, assemble a pet emergency bag that  you can take with you if you need to evacuate with your pets, or that will help sustain you at home in the case of a power outage or extended time without being able to access your local pet store, or veterinarian.    Stay in contact with our County’s emergency management advisories so that you know of any emergency plans for pets and their families, should you need safe haven.

 

It’s important to have some basics to have in your Pet Hurricane Kit, and below are some key

times for you to keep on hand:

 

  • Bottled water
  • One to two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food
  • Collapsible food and water bowls
  • Blankets
  • Extra Leash, collar and harness
  • Pet life jacket and paw protectors
  • Basic pet first-aid kit
  • List of medications and refills on any necessary medication

 

Plus, make sure that you have contact information and directions to pet-friendly shelters and your veterinarian stored in your phone.

5 Questions to Consider For Picking the Right Pet

Choosing to bring a pet into your life is an important decision. Adding a furry member to your family will change how you spend your time, your money, and you may even need to make changes to how your home is set up to accommodate your pet.  So, if you’ve already evaluated your decision carefully and are ready to adopt a pet, the next step is deciding what type of pet is best for you and your family. Read to the end to take a customized quiz to help you narrow down your choice!

 

First Things First

No matter what type of pet you decide is right for your home–cat, dog, rabbit, reptile, young, old, big or small–always choose to adopt instead of “shop.” Even if you are looking for a specific breed of dog or cat, there are rescue groups that specialize in purebred animals of almost every kind. Remember that by buying a pet you supporting the inhumane breeding of dogs and cats and are denying a loving and deserving pet in a shelter the chance at a forever home. Adopting a rescue pet is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your lifetime and when you find your perfect match, you won’t regret it!

Cat or Dog?

Although we at FoMA love all types of animals, most pet owners fall into one of two camps: canine or feline. You likely have a good idea about which type of pet you want to adopt,  however,  each type of animal has distinct characteristics that are important to consider. Beyond your personal preferences, you should also ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • Do I or anyone in my household have allergies, or have shown signs of allergies to either dogs or cats?
  • Do I already have a pet in my household that would not mix well with a dog or a cat? For instance, a mouse might be easily ignored by certain types of dogs but could be problematic for a cat to coexist with!
  • Do I have the time needed for the pet I am selecting? While both cats and dogs require daily time, affection and attention, most dogs need to take potty breaks outside regularly, while cats use litter boxes and can be left alone for longer periods of time.
  • Do I want a pet who is more independent, or more needy for attention? While dogs and cats can certainly fall on either side of that spectrum, cats tend to be more independent while dogs are needier of attention and affection.

 

Big or Small?

If you’ve decided to adopt a cat, you’ll find that there is not a great deal of size variance among most domestic house cats. However, if you’ve chosen to adopt a dog, one of the most important things to consider is whether you want a small dog or large dog. You should consider first and foremost your living arrangement: if you live in an apartment or condo, or have a Homeowner’s Association with specific rules relating to pets, check to see if there are any weight or other restrictions on pets you are allowed to have. Secondly, consider the lifestyle you will have with your pet. Do you take long walks or runs or enjoy going to the dog park? If so, a larger, more athletic dog will likely be a good fit for you. Do you live with someone who is elderly or have a small space with limited access or time to spend outdoors? A smaller dog may be a better pet for you. 

 

While shelters and rescues have dogs of all sizes, it is important to note that larger dogs have a harder time getting adopted and are more at risk for euthanasia. If you can give a home to a large dog, please do! You will find that they are just as affectionate as small dogs and typically like to be treated with all the affection of a “lap dog” no matter what their size!

Young or Old?

Almost everyone who goes to adopt a pet wants a young cat or kitten, or a young dog or puppy. The reasoning is certainly understandable–you want a lifetime with your pet and the more years ahead of you, the better! However, having a younger pet certainly comes with challenges. You may need to spend more time and money training your pet and forming better behaviors if they are young and younger pets also tend to have much more energy if not given proper stimulation or exercise. Older pets tend to be calmer and more mellow and their personalities are more fully developed. If your lifestyle is slower and more sedentary and you just want a cuddle buddy to hang out with you on the couch, an older pet could be a great choice for you and senior pets are often overlooked at shelters and rescues!

 

On the flip side, many older pets begin to develop more costly medical issues towards the ends of their life. If you adopt an older pet, you need to have a clear understanding of the type of medical care the pet will require and ensure you are financially prepared for those expenses. Of course, any dog or cat will grow old at some point, and even young animals can have unexpected medical conditions so always be prepared from a budgeting perspective to provide necessary medical care that may come up.

 

Personality and Chemistry?

One of the most rewarding things about adopting a shelter pet is getting to see their personality develop and watching them blossom into their true selves. Oftentimes, the dog or cat that you meet at the shelter is completely different from the pet you will have at home after a few months of decompression, love in your home. All this to say, don’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to selecting your pet. Sometimes the shyest shelter pets end up being the funniest and most outgoing animals at home and keep in mind the 3 3 3 rule:  3 days and your new pet is trying to figure out their new home and family;  3 weeks and your pet will have started to learn your routine and new family life 3 months and your dog will finally feel like part of your family

 

You should consider the chemistry you have with a pet when adopting. Talk to any “rescue parent” who has adopted a dog or cat from a shelter and they will probably tell you how they just “knew” that their special four-legged friend was the one. Whether you do an in person meet-and-greet, or see your pet virtually online, we are confident that you will know when the pet is the right fit for you. 

 

Special Needs Pets?

Adopting a pet with special needs is one of the most rewarding things you can do. From special medical needs, to behavioral issues, many pets that find themselves in shelters got there because of neglect, abuse or mistreatment. One of the most common obstacles a pet faces when getting adopted is that the pet is not “cat friendly” or “dog friendly” — meaning that the animal needs to be the only pet in the home. If you don’t have any pets currently, and you are considering adopting just one pet, these pets can be an excellent fit for you as they are in dire need of adoption and often thrive in a loving, safe home environment.

 

For dog owners, this might mean that you can’t go to the dog park or do other social dog activities with your pet, but other than that, the pet can live a normal life with you at home, out on walks and with proper introductions, with others. If you are prepared to take on a dog-reactive or cat-reactive pet, you will truly be saving a life!  Make sure you educate yourself about the special responsibilities that come along with adopting a behaviorally challenged pet and work with licensed professionals to ensure a smooth transition for the pet into your home.

 

Want more help narrowing down your choice? This quiz can tell you more about the ideal pet for you! https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/choosing-a-pet 

To apply to adopt a pet, you can start right here on our website! Happy Adopting!

At-Home Training: Improving Your Relationship With Your Pet

One of the most challenging aspects of pet ownership is learning how to properly train and discipline your pet to best fit into your lifestyle. The extra time spent at home due to COVID-19 can be a great time to work on your training skills and help you bond with your pet. Whether you just rescued a dog or cat or have been a pet owner for years, you can always dedicate time to working on your pets’ behavior. Please read this article and discover some free online videos you can use from the comfort of your home to get you started!

Need more convincing? Here’s a few key reasons why you should start training at home today:

It’s safer for your dog or cat

Training your pet can stop them from hurting themselves unintentionally. If your pet jumps up on a counter or chews on furniture, it can actually be detrimental to their health—not just your home furnishings—so it’s a good idea to train them in order to avoid unwanted occurrences like these. Managing your pet correctly can also lead to safer interactions with new people and animals inside and outside of your home. If you have a pet who is reactive or aggressive to other people and animals, ensure you consult a professional before openly introducing them to others.

It builds a stronger relationship between you and your pet

Statistics have shown that owners with well-behaved pets have a stronger bond with their pet. So, having a dog or cat that is well trained, relaxed, and responsive, will lead to a closer relationship with your furry companion. Relationships are built on mutual trust and understanding and it is no different with animals. When training your pet, it is vital to make sure they understand what you are trying to communicate to them. Commands with too many words can be confusing and put a strain on the authority and bond you hold with your animal. With dogs, remember that they are pack animals, meaning they want a trusted and benevolent pack leader to follow. Dogs will thrive when they know what the rules are, and when you spend time positively enforcing these rules, you also are building up between you and your furry friend.

Akc.org

It’s fun!

Who said learning isn’t fun? The exercises you and your pet will learn are stimulating and engaging. It can keep your pet from being restless and misbehaving by giving them an outlet for their mental and physical energy. Trick training, i.e. “shake,” “roll over,” etc, can be especially challenging and engaging for your pet. After physical exercise and a mentally stimulating training session, dogs who often look for trouble or suffer from separation anxiety may be more likely to be happy getting on the couch and taking a nap. Not only is it fun for your pet, but it’s fun for the owner too! 

Hillspet.com

It helps your pet become more confident

Your pet understanding its role in your household and in society is important. If your pet is shy, fearful, or has anxiety from its past life experience, training can give them the structure they need to come out of their shells. Learning commands and how to follow your lead will help them behave and feel more confident when they’re in public and interacting with new people or animals. Even if your pet does not go in public often, this is still important. If people are coming into your home, your pet needs to be comfortable and sociable. Even if you simply take your dog on a daily walk or take your cat to the vet, you are likely come across other people and pets in the process. It is imperative that your pet does not feel threatened and that they trust your authority and guidance to give them confidence in these situations. 

 

Here are some great resources that are perfect to get started for training your pet at home during the pandemic:

 

FOR CATS:

CatSchool

Karen Pryor Academy

Purina

Cat Training

Animal Behavior College

 

FOR DOGS: 

Wagfield Academy

Zach George’s Training Revolution

American Kennel Club Training

Dunbar Academy

Blue Cross

Runners, Jumpers & Escape Artists: How To Keep Dogs and Cats Safe At Home, and What To Do If Your Pet Does Run Away

Keeping your pet safely contained at home is important for many reasons. To help keep you pet safe we found some simple and cost-effective ways to help you do that, and, in the case of an escape, we’ve listed some ways to help you bring them back home safely. Keeping pets at home, and out of shelters is a priority for us all. 

 

Tire Them Out

Taking your dog for a walk, run, or to the dog park can do two very important things in reducing the chances of them running away. A tired dog is less likely to want to get out and they’ll be more than happy to take a nap instead. When they get out to explore their neighborhood, they become more aware of their surroundings and will have less of an urge to escape and explore. Giving a bored dog something that is mentally or physically stimulating will reduce their chances of running away. Check out our other post on training your pet at home during quarantine and the benefits of giving them more mental stimulation throughout the day!

young beagle (17 weeks) looks over the garden fence

Akc.org

Make it More Difficult to Escape

If your property is not well-fenced or protected, make sure you are outside with your pet at all times, and have them on a harness and leash. If you do have the ability to fence in your outdoor space, there are specific types of fencing, like deer fencing, that can keep your pet in for lower costs. Walking around the premises and making sure there are no gaps in fencing on a regular basis is also important. You want to know where the weak spots are so you can act accordingly. Underground “invisible” fences can be effective, but they are not as successful in stopping a pet who really wants to go for a “stroll.” 

 

Keep them Occupied

More often than not, pets run away because they’re bored. By giving your pet an interactive toy or long-lasting treat you can curb their interest in running away. Mental and physical stimulation are important in stressful times, especially during quarantine when your pet may not have access to doggy daycare or the dog park, or other activities that typically keep them stimulated. Keeping them engaged is a key aspect in keeping them calm and content at home. Chewy and PetCo both have some great and inexpensive options on toys specifically designed for keeping your pets occupied. 

Petsami.com

Sometimes, even if you are being highly responsible in tending to your pet’s well-being, your pet can still run away from home. It’s important to know the steps to take after your pet goes missing so that you can spring into action.

 

What to do if your pet runs away 

If your pet runs away it’s vital that you get the word out, and as quickly as possible. Report you lost pet immediately to your local municipal shelter, in Miami, that is Miami Dade Animal Services. Post flyers in the general direction of where your pet ran away, around your neighborhood, and even in local businesses with a bulletin board. You can post in neighborhood or town Facebook groups with an attached picture and description of your pet’s appearance and demeanor. There are apps and websites specifically for locating lost pets. PetAmberAlert, Miami-Dade County Service for Lost & Found Pets, Pawboost, and CatNetwork are all great resources for finding your pet ASAP. Many of these sites offer a location filter so you can search through areas near and far to try and bring your pet home. 

 

Keep in mind that running away from home can be a very stressful experience for your animal so they may not be themselves and could run away from people trying to help them. And if this is the case it’s a good idea to remind people not to chase your pet, but to take a photo and send the location to you. You know your pet. Will they be lured by a treat or certain type of food? Make sure to mention that in your communications. 

 

Also, checking local veterinary clinics and shelters is a great idea. These are usually the first places people call or bring an animal when they find a lost pet. We also suggest looking into getting an ID Tag and microchipping your pet. In the event that they run away it gives them a much better chance of being reunited with your family. 

 

And most importantly, don’t give up! Be aggressive in your search. Pets have been known to come home after a few days and starting early in your neighborhood locations could make a big difference in the situation’s outcome. 

Finding Pet-Friendly Housing in Miami-Dade County

It can be tough to find an apartment or rental home in Miami-Dade County that is pet friendly. Follow these tips to make sure that when you move, you never have to leave your pet behind!

 

Do your research 

There are some great websites for finding dog and cat friendly homes for rent in Miami. Sites like Adobo, ApartmentList, and My New Place, all have pet-friendly filters so you can narrow down your search to find the perfect home. A great resource for finding more websites like this is the Animal Humane Society. They have an entire page dedicated to finding pet friendly homes so you can keep your pet during a move. 

 

Build a pet resume

For a landlord who is on the fence about allowing a pet in their complex, you can put a resume together for your dog or cat. By giving them an opportunity to learn more about your pet and their behavior, you can help them make a decision based on the facts about your pet rather than a previous experience which may have colored their opinion. This will also help begin open and honest communication with your landlord. You can gather references from friends and family who know your pet as well as include pictures to help seal the deal. Emphasize it if they are potty trained and if they have taken obedience classes, since these are main concerns landlords face when debating if they should allow pets in their rental property. Including proof that your dog is trained by attaching a certificate of graduation or proof of class enrollment to their “resume” can help as well. 

Apartmentguide.com

Consider different types of buildings

Newer buildings will often have rent specials and are pet-friendly. They want to appeal to a younger demographic and will likely be willing to negotiate to allow your four-legged family members to come with you. Don’t waste your time on buildings that are not pet-friendly. All that effort can be put to use in looking for pet friendly locations that fit yours and your pet’s needs.

Golden Retriever Dog Breed

Vetstreet.com

Pay a pet deposit

If you can, offer to pay a pet deposit in case of any damages caused by your pet. This may convince landlords to allow you to move in. Many property owners can be weary of damages whether it be from a previous bad experience or precaution. By ensuring you will cover any costs that may occur, they may be swayed your way. 

 

Build references

Show the landlord that you are a responsible tenant. A letter of reference from your current landlord stating your accountability and good behavior could go a long way. A letter from your vet vouching that you care for your pet and that they are updated on all of their vaccinations may also contribute to making your case.

cat sleeping positions

Coleandmarmalade.com

Introduce them to your landlord 

By introducing your rescue pet to the potential landlord, you’re being given the opportunity to show a well-groomed and well-behaved pet. They will also be able to see how well you can control and interact with your pet. You may even be able to invite them to your current home so they can see the level of cleanliness and conditions that you live in. 

 

Yes—it can be hard to find pet-friendly housing in Miami-Dade County, but with determination, and creativity, it can be done! Never leave your pet behind because you had to move.

Creating a Smooth Adoption for Your Rescue Pet

Prepare your supplies

Before bringing your rescue pet home, make sure you have all the supplies you need and place them accordingly. This will make their introduction to their new home smoother as they will know from the start where they will eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. For a rescue cat, you may want to invest in a scratching post as well. Cats scratch to leave their scent and mark their territory, so best if you take the initiative and save your furniture with a post. For a rescue dog, potty training should be one of the first things you do when you bring your rescue dog home. Introduce them to a “potty spot” and regularly bring them to the location so they can become house trained, and be consistent with your potty routine.

 

Assign them a safe space

A cat tree can give your rescue cat a sense of security. They enjoy high spaces and many cat trees come with scratching spots as well. For a rescue dog, make sure they have access to parts of your home where there will be people. Don’t isolate them in a basement or garage. By keeping them in a place with foot traffic they will become more comfortable with your family and integration will go much quicker. If you’ve decided to crate train your rescue dog, make sure the crate is a comforting area for them. You can reward them with a treat or toy whenever they voluntarily enter the crate and there are great online resources to help you teach your pet to love their crate.

Cat on tower scaffold

Curbed.com

Introduce your pets slowly

If you have other pets, make sure they meet each other in a controlled environment. If you already have a dog, make sure your rescue dog meets them outside your home on neutral territory and somewhere without food or toys, and preferably outdoors where the original dog will not feel as territorial. If possible, it is best to have a trusted friend or a certified trainer help you facilitate this introduction in case one of the dogs reacts negatively to the other. Take it slow and pay attention to body language as your two pups meet.  If you have a cat and are bringing home a rescue dog, don’t introduce them right away. The scent will be enough for your rescue dog to know there is a feline there. When they are introduced, make sure your dog is on a leash to prevent any predatory instincts they may initially have towards the cat, and avoid chasing so that doesn’t become a set behavior between your cat and your dog.

iStock

MentalFloss.com

Give them space

Give your pet time to acclimate to their new surroundings before you introduce them to strangers. Moving is stressful for humans and pets; we all need time to adapt and decompress. They will need time to adjust to their new home and family before they will be ready to meet anyone new. Some one-on-one time will also give you time to bond with your pet and get to know their personality. The #333 rule says: 3 days to decompress, 3 weeks to learn your routine, and 3 months to feel at home and safe, so following these will ensure your pets have space and time to acclimate to their surroundings.

 

Build a routine

Try to stick to the feeding schedule the shelter, or foster family, had your pet on. This will prevent accidents and keep a sense of familiarity in their lives. Checking with your vet about food portions, types, and times is also a good idea. After a while, if you must, you can begin to slowly change feeding schedules. If you plan on changing the type of food, do so slowly. A sudden change in diet can be harsh on your pet’s stomach.

 

Interactive toys

Toys can be a great way for a rescue dog or cat to decompress and relieve stress during the transition to their new home. They will also be able to focus their anxiety on the toys rather than taking to a shoe or piece of furniture. This can also prevent them from developing separation anxiety since they will have something to “work on” while you’re out of the house. Food puzzles, toys you can fill with yummy treats and snuffle mats can keep your pets entertained and their mind stimulated.

Choosing the wrong size toy

PetCentral.com

Provide basic training

Training mostly pertains to dogs. Training can help your rescue dog feel a sense of structure and stability. Your relationship will also become stronger as trust is gained and your pet begins to understand how it is expected to behave. If you take classes with them, look for positive reinforcement classes as they are the most effective when training your pet. Dominance-based classes can put a strain on your relationship with your pet and will not be as successful.

 

Read body language

Initially, your rescue pet may be anxious and timid with all the new changes in its life. Learn to differentiate between when they would rather be alone and when they’re willing to interact with you. Forcing a relationship may stress them out during such a drastic change in their environment. Give them space. Building trust after the abandonment and neglect your pet has experienced will take repetition, consistency, time, and most of all: unconditional love and a little patience.

5 Things to Do Before Surrendering Your Pet to A Shelter

Did you foster or adopt a new pet during the stay-at-home mandates of COVID-19? Taking care of a pet requires an ongoing commitment of time and resources, especially as a new pet owner learns what it takes to look after your furry four-legged friend. However, if you’ve adopted a pet and begin to face some challenges, giving a pet back to the shelter or rescue organization should always be a last resort.

 

Here are 5 things to do before surrendering your pet back to a shelter:

 

  1. If finances are an issue, check out local food banks to get pet food.

 

Spending money on anything is tough during these unprecedented and uncertain times.  If you find yourself struggling with financing your pet’s needs, try out this alternative: find a food bank in your community to see if they also give away pet food. Miami-Dade Animal Services has been operating food distribution events providing free pet food for Miami-Dade residents, allowing Miami pet owners to reduce their financial stress. Additionally, you can contact www.thepetprojectfl.org, a nonprofit that provides pet food, vaccinations, and other services, and sometimes even veterinary care, to qualified individuals in need of temporary assistance.

  1. To reduce the cost of vet bills – negotiate a payment plan with your vet

 

Try speaking to your pet’s vet before urgent care is needed and explore ways to provide care if the time comes. Another way to spread out the expenses is to apply for pet insurance.  For a set monthly or yearly fee, you can get some veterinary services your pet may need or help cover extraordinary medical needs that may come up. Other options include CareCredit, which breaks your vet bills into lower monthly payments, and see if you qualify for loan assistance to help your pet get the urgent care needed.

 

 

  1. If your pet is having behavioral issues, hire a trainer for a couple of sessions to learn how to teach your pet, or leverage free online resources.

 

If your pet has been challenging you with some naughty behaviors, don’t give up. Sometimes all they need is a little practice and gentle discipline. Hiring a personal trainer for just a couple of sessions can really turn around your pet’s behavior and helps you learn what you need to help your pet be their best — patience is key! You may also look for online resources through leading national pet organizations to help you with basic behavior challenges. Practice makes better and you and your pet will be much happier and have a clear understanding of its place in your family with a little basic training and practice.

 

  1. Time – let your pets out!

 

If your schedule prevents you from letting your pet out during the day and you are feeling guilty, you can explore using a service like Wag or Rover so that someone can take them on a long walk while you are at work. These services make not just your life a little easier, but also your pet’s.  You can also work with your pet on crate training and potty training, so that while you are at work, your pet waits patiently for you to return. Whatever the circumstances, don’t give up on your pet and your pet won’t give up on you. Remember: even if you work long hours, the time at home you do have with your pet is better than no time—which is what your pet had when it was still at the shelter.

  1. As a last resort, you can try to re-home your pet with a friend or family member if you absolutely cannot take care of them

      

If you are moving overseas, have allergies, or another medical condition that makes it impossible to care for your pet, re-homing your pet with someone you know is a great option.   This also allows you to maintain a connection with your pet, as well as giving you peace of mind because someone you know and trust is taking care of your furry friend.  A great plus is that you may be able to visit them and give them some extra love. If this is not possible, search for a list of all no-kill rescues in your area. Sometimes smaller, closed-admission rescues or shelters can place pets with a foster family to give your pet the best chance for a good outcome. If surrendering your pet is your only option, consider a rescue rather than the shelter. Oftentimes shelters are overcrowded, and animals tend to do better when placed in the hands of a foster family from a rescue rather than at the shelter. If you must surrender your pet, please be sure to provide information on your pet’s personality, likes and dislikes and funny things your pet does or things your pet doesn’t like, as well as all veterinary records. This will help when finding the perfect match for your furry family member.

4 Ways to Save on Pet Care

For many of us, money is tight these days. The global pandemic has led to large-scale layoffs, unexpected medical bills, and other life stressors. While pets are getting more of our time and attention, the cost of taking care of them can be an added financial burden when we are already tightening our belts.  Here are some simple ways you can drive down the costs while still giving your pet the love and care they deserve:

  1. Buy your pet food online

Many online retailers offer discounts on pet food orders when you order on a subscription basis. These kinds of loyalty programs can significantly reduce money spent and increase time saved. Chewy.com offers hefty discounts, sometimes as much as a 30% savings on your first subscription order, and Petco.com often offers up to 35% off plus free shipping on your first subscription order. Some online retailers offer up to 10% off of top pet food brands, and shipping is quick and often free for orders over certain amounts. Other internet-based retailers such as Amazon.com also provide similar subscriptions and discounts, allowing you to make sure you get the brands you want while still saving money. There are also other ways to save money on your pet food orders, for instance, rebate websites such as freeshipping.com which offers 10% cash back rebates to customers of several major pet stores.

 

  1. Get pet insurance to offset medical bills, or find a low-cost vet

During times of crisis, it may be difficult to focus on your pet’s health when your health or the health of other family members is at the top of your mind. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure that your pet’s medical costs are more affordable. Pet insurance plans can cover everything from basic care to accidents, illnesses, cancer, and emergency care, among other things. With a pet insurance plan, your pet will be taken care of without major worries about unexpected high costs: you pay the same flat fee either monthly or yearly and know up front what coverage is available. If the unexpected happens and your pet is uninsured, services such as CareCredit and scratchpay.com are both resources that offer financing services to allow you to break up payments over time for your pet care. There are also low-cost veterinary services that provide quality medical care to pets without breaking the bank. Make sure to shop around for the best vet prices when money is an issue. You can also drive down the cost of pharmacy items using online retailers, such as heartlandvetsupply.com, Chewy.com, or others. These retailers are cheaper than the vet, and may save you money on your pet’s regular Heartworm medication and other pharmacy needs.

  1. Learn to do the parts of pet care you usually pay someone to do

Two parts of pet care that can be financially prohibitive are grooming and training. We sometimes bring our pets to groomers and trainers for the convenience and professional-level services, but these are jobs you can actually do yourself. On YouTube, there are countless resources to learn these skills, and many large pet welfare organizations offer resources and even online pet training classes. You will not only save money now, but also in the future when saving this money is less of a necessity, but still a great idea. Caring for your pet in this way will also strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend, and basic training and grooming skills are something every pet owner should have in their “toolkit.”

  1. Ask for help

Accessing support from the people around us is another way to save money on pet care. Contact your local humane society or shelter. They may offer low cost services or resources that you can take advantage of, such as free vaccinations or food drives that can help you save on essential things. You can also request financial assistance from an American Veterinary Medical Association member veterinarian enrolled in the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund program. They offer charitable veterinary services to pet owners facing personal hardships as well as support for animals that are injured or rescued from abuse and neglect. Those are not your only options. For example, if you have to go into work every day and cannot watch your pet, think about swapping favors with friends or family members instead of paying for expensive services like dog walking or boarding. You are not the only one who needs help right now, and coming to mutually beneficial agreements is the best way for a community to support one another. Even a good relationship with your landlord can be important. Many housing options require a “pet fee” be paid, but landlords can be lenient and waive this fee during this time to allow you to focus on your financial recovery while continuing to care for your pet.

 

While these strategies can be helpful to save money, they are not the only way to ensure that your pet is happy and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Remember that unconditional love, affection and attention are things that anybody can provide to their pets, and of course they are totally free.