Adopting a Senior Dog: What You Need to Know

Adult and senior dogs are often overlooked at shelters with potential adopters largely drawn to puppies or younger dogs. FoMA loves senior pets and believes in giving all pups a chance, and adult and senior pets hold their own special charm!

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Why Adopt an Adult or Senior Dog?

  1. Your house will thank you! Older dogs are often already potty trained and don’t require as much supervision or effort with potty training. Even if their potty training needs a little work, older and senior dogs can learn new tricks! Dogs are able to pick up skills quickly with patience and time. They are also more likely to have learned that furniture or shoes are not chew toys and can be easily trained to prefer plushies and tennis balls.
  2. They’re fun to relax with!  If you want a furry companion that’s more than willing to spend the day watching Netflix on the couch, an older or senior dog may be the perfect choice for you. Older dogs are calmer and don’t have the boundless energy we often see in puppies. So, if you’re not someone who takes extended daily walks or prefers not to make a trip to the park, an older dog will be fine with a few potty walks and to nap throughout the day.

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  1. You have the opportunity to improve their quality of life. Adult and senior dogs that don’t have a chance at a long term home often spend extended time at animal shelters without knowing the companionship and love that comes from having a family. If you decide to adopt an older dog, you’re giving them the chance to feel unconditional love and a sense of security. 
  2. They’re great for first-time pet owners.If you’ve never been a dog owner before, adopting an older or senior dog may work in your favor. Older and senior pups can act as your teacher as you learn the ins and outs of being a pet owner. Puppies are often high maintenance and may require much more work and effort, especially if you’re learning from scratch. Older dogs with more neutral temperaments and some training will allow you to learn without dealing with a lot of the stress that can come with trying to train and teach a puppy!
  3. They still have so much love to give! Dogs are considered to be “senior” once they reach 7 or 8 years of age, but some dogs can live much longer! Age is often a concern for many potential adopters who want to be able to spend a long time with their new pooch, but don’t let that keep you from adopting an older or senior dog! These pups  have so much love to give and sharing that time with an older best friend may be the perfect solution for a low maintenance doggy home and an older pet in need.

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How Can I Find a List of Adult Dogs for Adoption?

Finding an older dog for adoption is as simple as visiting our website at fomapets.org/adopt/. Just fill out the “Sign Up to Adopt” form, and we can help guide you to find information on older dogs available for adoption. Visiting shelters is also a great way to find a dog that is the right match for you and your family, especially since a lot of the time what you see is what you get with an older dog. If they have a calm demeanor in a chaotic environment like a shelter, chances are they will act the same once you bring them to a more relaxed environment like your home.

What is National Pet Day?

Founded in 2006, National Pet Day was created to celebrate our pets, honor those that may not get the attention they deserve, and raise awareness on how to reduce the number of animals that call shelters home. 

While pet owners may observe National Pet Day on the daily, why not take this opportunity to go the extra mile and give your pets more than your normal dose of love. And, if you missed National Pet Day on April 11th this year, that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating later on in the month or any time!

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Celebrate

National Pet Day is all about your pet so treat them to a day filled with excitement. 

  1. Get them a new toy! National Pet Day is the perfect excuse to spoil your pup. Pick up treats or toys that you know your pet will love. You could even bring them to the pet store to pick out their own treats and toys.
  2. Play with them! A simple red laser can be a fantastic way to have some fun with your cat, and a classic game of fetch can make your dog’s day. If you want to change things up, try a game of hide & seek or create a treasure hunt for them. Using treats for both of these will have your pet tiring themselves out while having a blast. Playing with your pet will show them just how much you care and it’s a great way to strengthen your bond.
  3. Bake them a special treat! There are so many pet-friendly homemade treat recipes online. Some common & healthy ingredients can include carrots, peanut butter, bananas, and beef or vegetable stock.

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Other Ways to Support National Pet Day

If you’re interested in donating to the animal welfare community in Miami-Dade, FoMA has a page dedicated to monetary donations. Your donation will be contributing to spay and neuter efforts, providing enrichment toys, flea and tick prevention, medical care, and even more to animals in need. However, donating doesn’t always mean giving money to a worthy cause. Donating old towels or blankets, pet food, and pet toys are all great ways to support your local animal shelters and the pets waiting for a forever home. You can also visit our Amazon Wish List and purchase an item that will directly benefit an animal in a Miami-Dade shelter!

Another way is fostering, which can change the lives of pets in need of a home. When you bring a shelter animal into your home you’re giving them the chance to feel comfort and safety, possibly for the first time in their life. Animals that are fostered are more likely to have lower levels of stress, have better socialization skills, and have a reduced chance of getting sick than animals in shelters.

Sometimes, if we’re lucky, fostering turns into “foster failures”. A foster failure is just a way of describing what happens when someone intends to foster a pet, but ends up falling in love and adopting instead! Adopting a shelter pet is one of the most rewarding experiences a pet parent can have. Those of you who already have pets know the unconditional love and happiness that pets bring into our lives, so maybe it’s time to add another family member to the equation.

So, what is National Pet Day? We like to consider it an excuse to celebrate your pets or help those in need!

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What is the Best Cat for Someone with Allergies?

If you’re a cat lover with allergies, don’t fret! While there is no breed of cat that is guaranteed to be hypo-allergenic, you may still have some options for adopting an adorable furry friend with less worry about sneezing and sniffles.

What is the Best Cat for Someone with Allergies? - FoMA PetsPhoto source

 

What Causes These Allergies?

Dander: If you’ve ever seen particles floating around in a ray of light, you’re likely seeing dander. Dander is a combination of skin cells, hair, and oil. Those with allergies are likely experiencing discomfort as a result of these nearly invisible particles in the air. 

Hair: While pet hair itself doesn’t normally cause allergies, it can trap dander that causes allergic reactions. The more an animal sheds, the more dander is released into the air, which means there is a larger chance of you suffering from allergy symptoms. Especially fluffy cats with undercoats will likely shed quite a bit more. For example, every spring into summer they will naturally shed their undercoat to help keep cool during these warmer months. 

 

Which Cat Breeds are Right for You?

Typically, cats with shorter coats or no undercoat are the best breed choices for those with allergies. Some of those cats include the Balinese, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Javanese, Oriental, and the Russian Blue.  While we support #adoptdontshop as the only option for adding a furry friend to your family, we suggest you register with local shelters for these specific breeds.

What Cat Breeds Are Right For You? - FoMA Pets

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Here is some more information about these breeds:

  • Balinese: Even though the Balinese has a long haired coat, they are low shedders and just need weekly grooming. The risk of dander particles floating around the air are slimmer with this breed.
  • Cornish Rex: The Cornish Rex has a short and wavy coat that doesn’t shed as much, also releasing less dander into the air.
  • Devon Rex: Similar to the Cornish Rex, the Devon Rex has a short, wavy coat that minimizes the spread of dander or fur.
  • Javanese: The Javanese is a mixed breed between a Balinese and Colorpoint Shorthair. They don’t have an undercoat which means they don’t shed much and only need a weekly brushing. They don’t spread many allergens and are a good choice for those with mild cat allergies.
  • Oriental: The Oriental is a cross of several different breeds of cats. They are moderate shedders and require a bit more than just a weekly groom. Rubbing them with a damp cloth can also reduce the chance of dander or fur floating around your home.
  • Russian Blue: The Russian Blue has a short but plush coat. They’re low shedders and like some of our other examples, require a weekly brushing (which they enjoy!). 

What Causes These Allergies? - FoMA Pets

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What to Remember

So, what is the best cat for someone with allergies? You must keep in mind that there is really no such thing as a completely “hypoallergenic” cat. Those who shed less have a lesser chance of aggravating your allergies.

 

If you aren’t sure whether the cat will bother your allergies, consider fostering first. Up to 11% of cats are returned to shelters because their owner is allergic so it’s best to do a little homework before you have to surrender a pet to a shelter.  Remember to always have a responsible alternative for the cat if you aren’t sure having them in your home will work for you!

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home

In honor of National Cat Health Month, FoMA wants to help to shed some light on the sometimes difficult transition cats experience when going from a shelter to a new home.

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home?

There’s no definitive answer on how long your adopted cat will take to adjust to its new home. It depends largely on their temperament. Some rescue cats may feel comfortable very quickly and will learn where their food, water, and litter box are immediately. However, some other cats may take longer to feel safe in their new home. Don’t be discouraged if this happens to you. There are steps you can take to make your new furry companion feel more at home.

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home - FoMA Pets

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First Steps After Getting Home

Moving can be incredibly stressful for cats. Cats are territorial creatures and become accustomed to their surroundings. When they’re coming into a home from a shelter environment, this can be scary for them as they are suddenly experiencing different conditions and surroundings.

When they arrive in your home, no matter how comfortable it can be, it is still an unfamiliar place with new smells and sounds. So, when you first get your kitty home, be sure to let them set the pace. They may want to sniff around or hide underneath your couch. Just make sure that you’re not forcing them to do anything they’re uncomfortable with, as this could slow down the process.

Introducing Your Pets to Each Other

When you already have a pet at home, this can add an extra element to the process of ensuring your new kitty is comfortable. We hope these tips of familiarizing your new cat to your current pets will be helpful in the transition!

Cat to Resident Cat:

Introducing your new cat to your resident cat will take time. As cliche as it may sound, patience is key in this situation.

Cat To Resident Cat - FoMA Pets

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  1. To start off, do NOT introduce your cats to each other when your rescue immediately gets home. Not only will this add an unnecessary component of stress to your rescue cat, but also to your resident cat and could negatively impact the relationship they form. Introducing them upon arrival can also lead to fights, litter box problems, and long-term aggression towards each other so it’s best to go slow.
  2. Put your rescue kitty in a safe space with a closed door and provide a kitty litter box, food, and water while your new kitty adjusts. This allows the rescue and resident cat the chance to smell each other’s scent before the meeting. You can even exchange their bedding after a few days so they become more accustomed to the new smells. If there are no signs of aggression like hissing or raised hackles, move on to the next step.
  3. After a few days, your cats are ready to see each other. Place your rescue in a carrier and set them down in a room where they would cross paths. If there are any signs of aggression keep the visit short and repeat a few times a day until they seem more comfortable with each other’s presence. 
  4. Once your cats seem comfortable with each other, it’s finally time for them to meet face to face. Don’t force them in the same room, but instead open the door to your designated safe room and allow them to go at their own pace. If there are any signs of aggression separate them immediately and go back to step 3. 
  5. Once your cats are well acquainted, you may still hear the occasional hiss or growl which is normal. Cats are territorial and hierarchical creatures which means they’re establishing a sort of pecking order. With time and patience, you’ll be helping create a bond between the two kitties and giving each of them a new furry friend!

Cat to Resident Dog:

  1. Most important is to make sure that your dog is cat friendly and/or NOT cat reactive!
  2. When introducing your rescue cat to your dog, this step is very similar to when you are starting to introduce two cats. This means that you should allow them to smell each other before meeting. Choose your designated safe room and allow them to become used to each other’s scents. 
  3. Once you feel that your pets are comfortable with each other’s scents, switch their places. Your dog will go in the safe room giving your rescue cat the freedom to explore the rest of the household for 1-2 hours a day.
  4. Now it’s time for them to finally meet face to face. Allow your cat out of the safe room while still giving the kitty the chance to move to safety if necessary. Ensure your dog is on a leash and you have high-value treats ready and make sure your dog is responding to your commands: If they try to stand up and move towards your cat, bring their attention back to you and give them a treat. This is teaching your dog that they should be relaxed about the presence of your cat. They’re learning that cats are not prey, nor toys.
    Should your dog not respond to you or seem that either of the animals’ stress levels are elevated, remove both from the room and repeat this process until your dog can focus on you and your kitty feels safe. 
  5. Once your pets are comfortable together, still keep an eye on them until you are positive they built a trusting relationship. You should ensure that your cat always has a designated safe space away from the dog they can retreat to when they’ve had enough of their companion. This safe space could be a room or even a cat tree, as long as it’s a space that is only theirs.

Cat To Resident Dog - FoMA Pets

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So, how long does it take for a cat to get used to a new home? While there is no exact answer, we hope these tips were helpful in showing how to make the transition easier on your new furry friend. 

Is it Illegal to Chain Your Dog Outside?

In recognition of Unchain a Dog Month, FoMA has compiled information on the risks of chaining up a dog, as well as some alternative actions you can take so your pet does not live life at the end of a chain. If you find yourself asking, “is it illegal to chain your dog outside?”, we have the answer!

Is it illegal to chain your dog outside?

The short answer: yes.

In Miami Dade County, it is illegal to chain or tether an unattended dog, which means leaving your dog on a chain with no one around to supervise. There are steps you can take if your dog needs to be outside for any reason and you want to keep them safe and not run afoul of the law:

  • If a dog is chained up outside, the owner or responsible party must be outside with the dog at all times, within visual range;
  • The tether must be 5 times as long as the pet, from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. So, if your dog is 2 foot long, this would mean their tether must be no less than 10 feet long and terminate at both ends with a swivel;
  • The tether or chain must  be connected to a collar or harness, not simply wrap around the pet’s neck, and should be attached in a manner that prevents the risk of injury or  strangulation;
  • The pet must have access to water, shelter, and dry ground;
  • The dog is a minimum of six months of age and is not sick or injured;

Is it Illegal to Chain Your Dog Outside? - FoMA Pets

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Why is it bad to chain your dog?

Dogs are social creatures that need to regularly interact with people and other animals. Long-term restrain can damage their psychological and physical wellbeing and cause long-term harm to your pet. A friendly dog who is tethered for a long period of time may become anxious or fearful and sometimes aggressive due to their unforgiving situation. 

A dog that is chained up for too long can suffer from intense physical pain and collars or chains can cut into their neck. A dog who is restless or anxious could easily pull at its tether so hard it causes strangulation. They will also be left to fend for themselves against the elements. Bugs, parasites, and no escape from the heat of Florida weather can all be extremely detrimental to a pet who is left tethered outside for too long. 

 

Tethering is not only dangerous for the dog but can also be dangerous for humans who attempt to approach them. The situation can create a high risk for dog attacks or bites. If they have been held in the same spot for an extended period of time, it’s likely that they will become extremely territorial. Nearing an animal in this state could trigger their fight or flight response, but with nowhere to run, their only perceived choice is to fight. Furthermore, if a dog in this situation happens to escape from its tether, it may attack a passerby as a result of severe and long term mental distress

Alternatives to Chaining Your Dog Outside? - FoMA Pets

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What are the alternatives?

Alternatives to chaining up a dog can be as simple as keeping them inside with you, taking daily walks, or installing fencing. An invisible fence will let your dog know where they can roam on your property without straying too far. If the main reason for keeping your dog chained up outside is because they have too much energy to be inside all day, make sure they are being physically and mentally stimulated. Taking walks, playing with them outside, or giving them interactive toys are all great ways of keeping your pet occupied and happy. During Unchain a Dog Month, FoMA encourages you to please consider alternatives and unchain your dog!

Unchain A Dog Month - FoMA Pets

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Bucket List for Your Pet

Bucket lists are always fun to make for ourselves, but shouldn’t your dog have one too? There are so many opportunities to have fun with your pet in Miami-Dade, so FoMA has compiled a beginners list of pet-friendly activities for you!

Dog-Friendly Beaches

Everyone loves a beach day and your pup will too! There are numerous pet-friendly beaches in Miami-Dade County with more to offer than just the sand and sea.  When visiting a dog beach or other recreation area for your pet, be sure to actively supervise your pet and others in the area so you are ready to intervene if your pup starts to get in trouble.  Our pets count on us keeping them safe, even when they’re playing and having fun!

Haulover Beach Park offers a beautiful beach as well as a “bark park” (an enclosure for small and large dogs). Dogs are allowed off-leash from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm so your pooch will get the chance to play in the sand, meet other dogs, and maybe even learn how to swim!

North Beach Oceanside Park offers a dog park and a dog-friendly beach, the “Bark Beach.” There are jogging/walking trails, shady spots, and picnic areas to relax in. While the entire park is dog friendly for leashed dogs, there are enclosed spaces where you can take your dog off-leash to roam.

Hobie Island Beach Park is another dog-friendly beach that is most popular for different beach activities like windsurfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. It’s also a completely dog-friendly beach. Play in the sand and let your furry friend socialize with the other dogs in the area!

Bucket List for Your Pet - Digging for Treasure

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Go Shopping

The Doggie Bag Cafe & Pet Boutique is an adorable shop with awesome supplies for your pup. They carry organic treats, pup-cakes, grass-fed beef sliders, chicken or beef dinners, and even doggie beer – but make sure your doggie is old enough for this, too! Have a pet birthday or adoption anniversary coming up? The Doggie Bag Cafe is the perfect place to get them a cake! 

Brickell City Center allows leashed dogs to roam and window shop with you (Just make sure to ask the stores if your pooch is allowed inside with you). Brickell City Centre is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:30 pm and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Taking your leashed pet to a local pet store to choose a toy is always a great option, too. There is no better way to ensure you are getting the perfect toy than letting them pick it out themselves!

Bucket List for Your Pet - Shopping with company

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Hiking and Walking Trails

A day outside may be exactly what your dog needs for a classic bucket list experience.

The Virginia Key Outdoor Center is pet-friendly: Everything you expect from the Florida Keys but only minutes from anywhere in Miami. Enjoy white sand beaches, nature trails, and mountain trails with your pooch. The Virginia Key Outdoor Center is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and Saturday to Sunday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Oleta River State Park, Florida’s largest urban park, has trails for mountain biking and water sections swimmers. You can bring your pooch for a picnic at Biscayne Bay or for a quick swim and a walk along the trail. Oleta River State Park is open every day of the week from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Throw A Birthday or Adoption Party

If you’re housebound due to COVID-19, don’t fret! Celebrate an adoption anniversary or birthday at home to show them how much you love and appreciate them. There are numerous barkeries in Miami-Dade County where you can buy a doggy-safe cake or treat to celebrate. 

Places like The Woof Gang Bakery, Doggie Bag Cafe, and The Waggin Barkery are all home to delicious dog-friendly and approved treats. These barkeries will have your pup remembering their party for years to come!

Bucket List for Your Pet - Sweet Treats

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How to Crate Train Your Dog

Crate training is an important, safe, and easy way to provide your pup with a safe and comfortable place to relax. Many people feel guilty for crate training their pooch, however, dogs can actually seek out enclosed spaces when they’re anxious or looking for a place to relax. Crate training is helpful so that if your dog has to be contained due to visitors or other circumstances, it’s a place of comfort and security – not punishment.

Benefits of Crate Training

No. 1 Housetraining: Crate training prompts your dog to hold their bladder when you’re out of the house.

No. 2 Chew-training: Nobody wants their dog chewing on the furniture! Crate training will help prevent your pooch from chewing your furniture, your walls, or anything else you don’t want to be chewed up. Good habits will automatically form. 

No. 3 Settling Down: Your dog will learn that their crate is a place for relaxation and comfort. 

No. 4 Close Confinement Comfortability: When a dog becomes comfortable with a crate, they are less likely to experience stress when they need to be caged for travel, doctor’s visits, etc.

How to Crate Train Your Dog - Benefits of Crates

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The Rules

No. 1 The crate should not be used as a form of punishment.

No. 2 Always remove your dog’s collar when leaving them in a crate unattended.

No. 3 Make the crate a fun and safe space. Your dog should have treats, toys, and bedding that he only gets while he’s in his crate. 

No. 4 Unless you are certain your dog needs to use the bathroom, don’t open the crate door for crying!

Making the Crate a Fun and Safe Space!

You want the crate to be a space where your dog feels comfortable and at home, so ensure that it is filled with a blanket or bed and favorite toys. Your pup will learn this is a place where they can come to relax and feel safe, making it easier for them to go in the crate when necessary. It is not meant to be a form of punishment and should not be used as one!

How to Crate Train Your Dog - A home, not a prison.

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How to Crate Train

When it comes to crate training your dog, slow and steady wins the race. Start by feeding your pup in their crate, with the door open, saying “Crate” each time. Your dog will then begin to associate food with its crate. A few times throughout the day, say “Crate” but give treats instead of their meals.

After your pup becomes comfortable with the crate, you can take it a step further. Give your dog a treat that takes more work to eat (like a Kong filled with peanut butter). Say “Crate” as they go inside and shut the door for a short period of time (just about a minute). Repeat this for a few days until your dog is comfortable with the door closed, then gradually increase the period of time with the door shut. The goal is that eventually they won’t mind the closed door and they will be comfortable for longer periods of time.

Slow and consistent crate training is extremely important so your dog’s first experience alone in a crate is a good one. Before leaving them alone for a long period of time, practice short times away: For example, go away for a snack or drink. Try watching a movie. When you’ve decided time is up, and if the dog is quiet and settled, simply open the door and let them out. Ignore any barking or agitation (remember Rule No. 4) but ensure your pup is safe! This could teach them that if they bark enough, you will let them out. 

When they are clearly comfortable in the crate, try leaving the house with the same gradual method in mind. Leave first for a minute, then 5 minutes, then 15, 30, an hour. The dog must be gradually conditioned so they do not associate the crate with punishment or being alone and instead of a place of quiet time and yummy treats. 

How to Crate Train Your Dog - Happy Dog

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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.

Healthy and Happy - FoMA Pets

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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!

Spay or Neuter - FoMA Pets

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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.

Dogs Need Exercise Too - FoMA Pets

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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.

Consistent Eating Habits - FoMA Pets

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!

Toys to Help Anxiety - FoMA Pets

outwardhound.com

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. 

Background Sounds or Music - FoMA Pets

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.

Still Keeping Active - FoMA Pets

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.