Bird Care Basics

Are you thinking about getting a bird but aren’t sure if it’s the right choice for you? Or do you already have a bird and want to be sure you are taking care of the essentials?

Caring for a Bird

Having a pet bird may seem daunting, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, birds are delightful little creatures to share your space with and if you make the decision to adopt one, chances are you won’t be disappointed. There are a few basic ground rules of having a pet bird, though, so read on to be sure you are providing your flying friend with everything he or she needs to be content.

It’s crucial to do your research before adopting any kind of pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, or ferret. This will help you know what to expect when it comes to their care and ensure there aren’t any surprises in terms of breed behavior or what they require in their environment. If possible, it’s always better to rescue or adopt a pet than it is to buy it from a pet store (more on that here).

Starting Points

When it comes to birds, there are a couple of birds that are bird care finchconsidered good starter birds, meaning they are suitable for individuals who have no previous experience with birds and are looking for a pet that is easy to manage. Finches and canaries are two such birds: they are easy to care for, don’t require as much human interaction as some other birds, and they don’t need as much free flying time as other birds, either. For these reasons, a finch or a canary is a great choice for your first bird.

One of the most important things you can do for your bird is get it a cage big enough to spread its wings and move around a bit. The bigger the cage, the better. Make sure the cage includes at least one perch that the bird can sit on and put it in an easily accessible spot in the cage. Place food and water bowls for your bird in the cage, but ensure they are in a spot where they won’t be tainted by excrement or any other messes your bird might make in its cage. The food and water should remain clean at all times.

Birds Need Attention, Too

Some people get birds thinking they don’t need any attention at all and can just be left in their cage at all times. That’s not the case. Birds, like almost all other animals, crave interaction and need human bonding time in order to remain happy in their environment. Leaving your bird alone too much can make it lonely and depressed. Give your bird toys in its cage, so it can entertain itself when you are not around. Mirrors, climbing structures, and a biting stick are great additions to a bird’s cage. The biting stick can also help redirect any aggressive energy away from your fingers.

Even if your bird has toys, though, you still need to take it out and play with it whenever you get the chance. Shower your bird with love and attention. If you want, you can train your bird to do certain things like sit on your finger and even perform tricks. It might sound difficult, but it’s actually not as hard as you might think and it’s quite rewarding for both you and the bird. In the meantime, though, you can make sure your bird remains happy and healthy by providing it with all the basics listed so far. Birds are beautiful beings that need loving and caring owners, so be sure you are up for the commitment before you adopt!

Rid Your Cat of Any Excess Energy and Sleep Better Tonight

Does your cat like to run around in the middle of the night, meowing and disturbing your sleep? Does he stare out the window during the day, wanting to go outside? If so, you’re not alone.

Dealing with a Hyper Cat

Plenty of owners find themselves in this situation: their cat sleeps all day and seems to wake up only at night, once it’s time for bed. There are ways to help alter these habits and ensure your cat doesn’t continue to disturb your sleep on a regular basis.

Though many people like to let their cat outside to explore, the truth is your cat is much safer in an indoor environment, where he or she is protected from hazards like moving cars, children with bad intentions, and other predators like dogs and coyotes. Keeping your cat indoors means they are more likely to be bored and need outlets for their excess energy and desire to hunt. Because cats are natural predators, they enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction they get once they have succeeded. It’s up to us as owners to help ensure they still achieve that satisfaction even as indoor cats.

Provide the Resources

If your cat has excess energy, chances are he or she has engaged in at least one negative behavior, whether it be scratching your furniture, keeping you up at night, or bothering you for attention during the day. Many owners get upset and blame the cat for these types of behaviors, but in reality, it’s up to cat owners to help their pets channel this energy into something positive and productive. If your cat is “too hyper” or won’t let you get a good night’s sleep, try some of these suggestions to help tone down the hyperactivity:

1)    Let your cat explore the outside – Supervised and on a cat excess energyleash, that is. Again, cats don’t have any special senses that keep them safe outside, which is why letting them out on their own can be extremely dangerous. Outdoor cats have much shorter life spans than indoor cats, and we all want our pets to live as long as possible, so taking the risk of letting them outside isn’t worth it. Instead, buy a small harness and leash for your cat and take him or her on a walk to explore. It can be as simple as a trot around your backyard or a longer, more substantial walk if your cat is willing to go that far. Some cats love going on walks, others don’t. Your cat may just flop down on the ground and roll around – that’s fine, too. Find out whether or not your cat enjoys it and if so, try to take him or her out as frequently as possible to help them express their natural instincts.

2)    Make time for play – Playtime is crucial for the happiness of a cat. Sure, cats like to sleep most of the day, but not engaging them in any playtime during the day may make them exert that pent up energy at night, which is often unpleasant for owners. Find the type of toy that your cat prefers and play with him at least once a day, several times if possible. Some cats prefer the wand toys with something hanging from the stick, like a fishing pole. Others enjoy playing fetch with bouncy balls like a dog. The laser pointer is a toy that most cats love to play with, so shell out a few dollars and get one at the pet store. It can provide hours of entertainment for both you and your cat!

3)    Provide a cat tower – Cat towers, kitty condos, and other larger play structures help cats express their natural hunting instincts, too, by allowing them to be above their “prey”, watching them from afar and jumping down to play when they want. Many cats love their towers and will spend hours a day either sleeping or playing on them, or both. Skip the pet store and purchase one online where they are much cheaper. Or better yet, build one yourself! Just make sure to cover it with carpet or a material that makes it climbable for your cat, otherwise it defeats the purpose.

Give Them an Outlet

If you are having trouble sleeping at night because of an over-active cat or you find that your cat is simply bored with being inside, but you understand the dangers of letting him or her out, squeeze in some extra playtime during the day. Giving your cat this extra attention, be it through a walk, a play session, or a kitty condo, can help your cat get rid of its excess energy and be tired when it comes time for bed. Then both you and your cat can sleep soundly again.

Pets Reduce Risk of Nation’s Top Killers

When pet owners think about why they love having animals, chances are they will tell you it’s because of the companionship and comfort of having a friend. Animals provide unconditional love, many pet owners will say. They also give people motivation and purpose in life, which might otherwise not exist.

The latest research shows that pets provide us more than just a friend, they may be providing a number of health benefits, too. Studies have found that pet ownership may result in the reduction in certain risk factors and diseases like heart disease, stroke, and dementia and cut pet owners’ chances of needing long term care.

Pets, Health, and Long Term Care

Heart disease currently ranks as the number 1 killer in the United pets reduce riskStates. 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year, and the numbers have only increased over time. Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans annually, and it is caused by mainly the same risk factors as heart disease.

Both of these diseases commonly lead to the need for long term care, which is care provided to someone who is too ill, fragile, or disabled to complete certain basic daily tasks on their own. Long term care is increasingly expensive, so cutting your chances of needing care by addressing your risk of disease is critical for both your health and your wallet.

According to recent research, pets can improve health by reducing certain risk factors for poor health. Research has found that having a pet helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels, which are all major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Why the Benefit?

Having a pet increases the opportunities for exercise and makes people more likely to spend time being active outside, whether it is going for a walk or playing with their dog in the yard. According to the CDC, just 48% of adults meet the US physical activity guidelines, which recommend weekly exercise of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and strength training on 2 days.

Unfortunately, too many Americans spend their day sitting all day long at desk jobs and don’t incorporate physical activity to help keep their risk factors of disease and their chances of needing long term care low. Having a pet, especially a dog, can change that.

The American Heart Association found that in a study of more than 5,200 adults, dog owners were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity. The regular exercise you get with a dog also significantly reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, because physical activity requires the brain to work quickly and efficiently and helps maintain good blood flow to the brain. Exercise helps re-grow the aging brain, which typically shrinks over time without exercise, and can prevent cognitive decline later in life.

Reducing Risk

Having a pet helps reduce the risk of dementia in more than one way. Pet ownership also helps prevent loneliness and reduce anxiety, which have both been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Pets provide companionship and a sense of purpose that can help reduce depression and social isolation, keeping people happy, which adds to their health.

High stress, especially during mid-life, has been linked to a higher dementia risk, but pets can help that, too. WebMD explains that in addition to calming your cat or dog, petting it can also lower your blood pressure and cut back on stress hormones in the body.

Considering all the health benefits having a pet provides humans, it’s no wonder that an Australian survey found that dog and cat owners made fewer annual doctor visits than non-pet owners. Having a dog or a cat can help improve your health and provide you with a long time companion at the same time. If you decide to adopt a dog, just be sure you aren’t doing it solely for the health benefits. Pets require a certain amount of responsibility, time, and dedication, so don’t take the plunge if you aren’t ready for those long term commitments.

If you want the perks of a pet without having to commit for a lifetime, read more into the benefits of fostering.

Can Dogs Be Vegetarian?

When people switch their diets to one that doesn’t include meat, they often wonder if the same can be done for their pet. Can a vegetarian diet be healthy for a dog? The answer, according to Dr. Jennifer Coates, is yes, it can. When approaching this issue, though, it’s important to remember that just like with human diets, a vegetarian diet for dogs must be thoroughly planned.

Dogs Aren’t Carnivores

Dogs, like humans, are omnivores. This means they eat dogs vegetarianand are able to digest both plant and animal food sources. Dogs’ diets have evolved over time in step with human diets, and they developed the ability to digest starches when we first began to domesticate them, according to an article in Nature.

The key to an adequately designed vegetarian or vegan diet  for dogs is ensuring the protein content is appropriate and there is no lack of taurine or Vitamin D. Many pet owners choose to make their own dog food at home, but besides being time consuming, this method also has a lot more room for error. Because the proportions of vitamins and minerals is vital to ensuring good health in your pet, making your own meatless dog food must be done with some research.

Some people have found that done correctly, this approach works wonderfully for their dog. For those who don’t want to make their own dog food, though, there is another option.

Commercial Option

A vegetarian dog food has hit the market and is being embraced by meat-free eaters across the country. V-Dog dog food has been available since 2005 and is a dry dog food kibble that doesn’t contain any animal products at all. Rather, it is a combination of plant based foods that meet dogs’ nutritional requirements of all the necessary protein, vitamins, and minerals, including taurine.

V-Dog has been certified by the AAFCO. The AAFCO, or Association of American Feed Control Officials, is an organization that regulates the sale of animal foods and establishes regulations for pet food and feed ingredients and nutritional adequacy in those foods.

Know the Ingredients

Though most people wouldn’t think a vegetarian diet can work for a dog, if done properly, it can.

Regardless of what you decide to feed your dog, knowing the details of exactly what is in the food can make a big difference in your dog’s health. Whenever you make a decision about your dog’s food, do your research and understand just what you are feeding them before putting the bowl down.

Prosthetic Paws Help Dog Regain Life

One mixed-breed dog got a high tech upgrade to help him regain agility and start a new life after a rough beginning.

Abandoned as a Puppy

Naki’o the dog was abandoned by his family after their home was foreclosed on in Nebraska. He was found inside the home in the cellar, curled up in a ball in a puddle of water. All four of his paws and the tip of his tail were frozen.

After being taken to the vet, it became clear that his paws would never work the same again. Naki’o was unable to walk, run, or play like a normal dog. At an animal shelter, that all but eliminates the chances of adoption. Lucky for him, though, a veterinary assistant saw him and decided to help the puppy in need.

Adoptionnaki'o prosthetic paws

Christie Pace adopted Naki’o from the shelter when he was just 8 weeks old. “I have a soft spot for rescue animals in general. I was looking for something different, unique,” Pace told Metro news. “I wanted to make more of a difference than a regular dog. I knew I could help him out.”

She organized a fundraiser for Naki’o in hopes of helping him walk again one day. The initial fundraiser collected enough to pay for two prosthetic paws. The paws were fitted specifically for Naki’o’s back legs. The company who provided the prosthetics were so moved by his story that they decided to provide two more for free, for the dog’s front paws.

‘When we saw how good he was doing with his back leg prosthetics and how he was struggling to use his front legs it was very simple to say, “we gotta keep with him,”‘ said Martin Kaufmann, owner of Orthopets.


Living the Dream

Naki’o can now walk, run, play, and even swim like a normal dog. He is living life to the fullest with Christie, his new family. The prosthetics slip onto his legs and help him engage in activity that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to. He is the only dog known to have four prosthetic limbs. You can watch Naki’o in his new prosthetics playing outside here.

Keeping Your Pet at a Healthy Weight

Having a pet is an experience that good owners take pride in. Providing food, shelter, and love to animal is more than just a service to the animal, it’s often rewarding to the human, as well. Sometimes, though, we humans tend to go overboard in giving our pets love and it often ends in their being overweight or obese. To help your pet, be it a cat or a dog, remain happy and healthy, keeping it a healthy weight is key.

Pet Obesity Rates

According to a 2013 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, pet healthy weight cat57% of cats and 53% of dogs are overweight or obese. That number has jumped dramatically since 2007. The number of obese dogs has increased nearly 37% and the number of obese cats has increased more than 90% in those four years. That means that there are more cats and dogs that are overweight than aren’t, which is very sad considering the hugely negative impacts being overweight can have on your pet’s health.

Overweight pets are more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis and joint problems, exacerbated risk of cardiovascular disease, skin disease, reduced mobility, and a shorter life span. Just like in humans, being overweight or obese comes with serious health consequences that can be costly and sometimes deadly. Helping your pet stay a healthy weight will allow them to live a normal, active life and allow you to save money on veterinary bills and enjoy watching your pet thrive.

Many people don’t even know their pets would be classified as overweight or obese. Becoming aware of this information and understanding how to determine whether your pet is a healthy weight or not is crucial to giving your pet the best care possible. If you are unsure of how to tell by looking at your cat or dog whether it is overweight or not, refer to this chart to help.

What Does an Overweight Animal Look Like?

One of the most easily recognizable signs of an overweight pet is how the rib area looks and feels. If you are able to see your pet’s ribs and shoulder blades distinctly and there is no layer of fat over them, your pet is likely underweight. If there is a slight layer of fat over the ribs and tail, your pet is probably at a healthy weight. If your pet has body rolls and you have to push hard to feel its ribs, chances are your pet is overweight. Your pet should have an overall slender figure and its neck should be smaller than its head, with no rolls of fat on the body.

Preventing pet obesity or helping your pet lose weight doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s much easier to prevent obesity than it is to reverse it, but reversing it is entirely possible. Be sure you are feeding your dog or cat the same measured amount of food at every meal. Don’t leave food out all day or your pet might turn into a “grazer” and begin eating even when he or she is not truly hungry.

If there are multiple pets in the household and they seem to competitively eat, separate the food bowls so there is no rush to finish. This will help prevent overeating. Another important thing to keep in mind is treats. Don’t go overboard on the treats! They are fine in moderation, but some people end up giving their pets large amounts of treats and that can contribute to obesity.

Exercise is Vital

Make sure your pet is getting enough exercise. pet healthy weight dogA great motto is “if your pet is overweight, you aren’t getting enough exercise”. If you have a dog, go on at least one walk every day. If your dog is a larger breed or has high energy levels, one walk will not be enough. Several walks or playtime at the dog park might be necessary to help keep your pet healthy.

If you have a cat, don’t neglect exercise, either. Many people think cats can’t be exercised, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some cats love going on walks, so if yours is one of those, strap on a harness and a leash and walk your cat just like you would a dog! If your cat isn’t keen on walks (or a harness and leash), pull out the laser pointer and have a long play session until your cat seems tired. Toys with long strings and something dangling at the end are another great way to help your cat get some exercise.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is vital to helping them live the happiest, healthiest, and longest life possible. Being overweight or obese can have serious negative effects on their basic bodily functions, so be sure to keep a watchful eye on your pet’s weight and don’t skimp on the exercise!

Preventing Urinary Disease in Cats

Urinary tract infections are just one of the common components of feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD. FLUTD comprises a number of conditions that affect the bladder and urethra of cats and can cause some health problems, some mild and some extremely severe and urgent. It’s important that you know how to recognize the symptoms of these conditions in your cat, so you are able to provide treatment as quickly as possible.

Lower Urinary Tract Disease in Cats

The main conditions included in the FLUTD classification are urinary tract infections, urinary stones, urethral plugs, and cancer. Feline idiopathic cystitis is the general diagnosis term used for FLUTD if no clear conditions like urinary stones or urethral obstruction are found. If no obstruction exists, symptoms of the FIC are often resolved on their own without treatment, but knowing how to prevent the same problem in the future can help ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Stress is a major factor attributed to feline idiopathic cystitis and FLUTD in general. Usual causes of stress for cats include changes in the environment, a change in the animals in the household, changes in the cat’s schedule, or changes regarding the cat’s food. Any of these instances can cause stress in a cat that may lead to FIC, so keeping a consistent and reliable schedule and home environment for your cat can help reduce the risk of this issue.

Other causes of lower urinary tract disease are bladder inflammation or infection, injury or tumor in the urinary tract, incontinence, urethral obstruction, or urinary stones.

Causes of Disease

Urinary stones are another condition associated with feline urinary tract disease catslower urinary tract disease. Similar to kidney stones in humans, urinary stones in cats are made up of a buildup of minerals that form in the urinary tract of cats. These can often be diagnosed using an x-ray or an ultrasound and surgery may be required to treat them. Sometimes the urinary stones can be dissolved by a specific diet, but that treatment doesn’t work all of the time.

A urethral obstruction is another part of FLUTD and it is just what it sounds like: an obstruction of the urethra in a cat. It is often caused by urinary stones or urethral plugs and it is most common in neutered male cats, who have the longest urethras. Because the kidney is unable to detoxify the body when a urethral obstruction occurs, cats with an obstruction can go downhill very quickly. Once the kidney is unable to remove toxins, the electrolytes within the cat’s body become imbalanced and can rapidly lead to unconsciousness and heart failure.

If you recognize any of the following symptoms associated with FLUTD, especially a urethral obstruction, in your cat, it’s crucial to bring him or her to a vet immediately to discover the problem.

Prevent Problems

The main symptoms found with FLUTD are painful or difficult urination, frequent or prolonged attempts to urinate, crying while urinating, urinating outside of the litter box or places not permitted, lethargy, excessive licking of genitals, hard abdomen, and blood in the urine. If you witness any of these symptoms in your cat, your best course of action is to bring him to the vet as quickly as possible.

Some cats may experience repeated signs of lower urinary tract disease. If this is the case, follow these tips to help prevent any urinary problems with your cat in the future:

1)    Feed your cat small meals regularly throughout the day

2)    Feed specific diet if advised by veterinarian

3)    If you are feeding dry food, consider switching to wet food for higher water content

4)    Provide clean, fresh water that is accessible at all times

5)    Provide enough litter boxes (rule of thumb is number of cats +1)

6)    Keep litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of house where cat feels secure

7)    Regularly clean litter boxes (at least once daily) and change litter every few weeks

8)    Avoid big changes in routine or stressful events that might bother cat

Feline lower urinary tract disease isn’t fun for any one, the cat or the owner. By following these tips, paying attention to any changes in your cat’s environment, and alerting the vet whenever any symptoms occur, you can help your cat prevent urinary problems in the future.

Why Pet Store Puppies Aren’t a Good Choice

When you walk into certain pet stores, you may see a sight that looks something like this: glass enclosures lined along the wall that contain tiny purebred puppies.

Pet Store Puppies

Each puppy has a piece of paper on the wall of the enclosure listing its basic information, including its breed, price, and a promise of a bloodline certificate that verifies the breed purity.

Chihuahuas, Western Highland Terriers, Bulldogs, Poodles, and other purebred puppies are just some of the ones you might see in pet store cases. Though it may be tempting to purchase one of these puppies, chances are by doing so, you are supporting a cruel system of animal neglect and abuse. Most puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.

What are Puppy Mills?

Puppy mills are large scale dog breeding operations that focus on the profit being produced rather than the health and well being of the dogs being bred. Puppy mill puppies are often kept in small wire cages without food or water, unsanitary conditions, and often inadequate veterinary care.

Besides the neglect and abuse that puppy mill puppies endure, health problems are also common in these dogs. Because of the horrendous conditions they are kept in, issues like matting, sores, mange, dental problems, and other negative health impacts are widespread among puppy mill puppies.

The cages the animals live in are often outdoors, which means they are exposed to nature’s elements, too, leaving them more vulnerable to developing an illness. Though pet stores will often promise a certificate of good health, the certificate usually just refers to the vaccines the puppy has received, not the actual current state of health of the animal.

The ASPCA has launched a campaign against pet store puppies to help raise awareness about the plight that puppy mill puppies and breeding dogs must endure. Another article in Forbes focuses on the problems with puppy mills and the truth about the industry, which is typically hidden from the buyer.

Finding the Perfect Dog

If you are looking for a specific breed of dog, try searching for a breed-specific rescue near you. There are plenty of these kinds of organizations that exist, whether they are golden retriever rescues, border collie rescues, or chihuahua rescues, there is almost always a rescue that focuses on the breed you are interested in. Adopting from a rescue organization is much better than buying from a pet store because rather than support the puppy mill industry, you are helping the rescue save more lives at your local shelter.

If breed doesn’t matter to you, stopping by your local animal shelter is a great option. By adopting from a shelter, you are also helping save lives by making more room for other dogs who need homes. Mixed breed dogs are also less likely to have severe health problems than purebred dogs like pugs who have breathing and hip problems and large breed dogs that often have hip or joint problems. That means you may be saving yourself money on vet bills in the future by opting for a mixed breed, or mutt.

Next time you walk past a pet store, you may be wondering just how much is the puppy in the window. If you are concerned about the health, living conditions, and treatment of that animal and all others included in the puppy mill industry, though, it’s best to just keep walking.

When It Comes to Rabbits for Easter, Stick to the Easter Bunny

Parents may be tempted to buy their children a rabbit for Easter. After all, what could be cuter than your little one holding a tiny bunny come Easter morning? Despite the cuteness factor, rabbits and small children aren’t a good mix. Rather than buy a live animal for your child, it’s best to stick with the legend of the Easter bunny or a chocolate rabbit in their basket for a cute animal this holiday.

Rabbits and Kids

Rabbits are sensitive animals that can be frightened easily. Most rabbits don’t like being held and aren’t a good choice for small children who can be inadvertently careless and rough. Expecting a young child to take responsibility for a small animal that requires a lot of work isn’t a fair assumption for either party.

Rabbits can live 8-10 years inside and shouldn’t be seen as a gift for a holiday, but rather the time-consuming obligation that they are.

Unfortunately, many parents get their children rabbits only to lock them in outdoor hutches. Rabbits living in outdoor hutches have a lifespan of merely one year. They can quickly become lonely, isolated, and depressed and develop health problems if left alone the majority of the time.

Training Rabbits

Rabbits crave social activity and need quite a bit of training, rabbits for easterincluding housebreaking. They also need to be spayed or neutered to prevent marking, destructive behavior, and breeding.

Having a rabbit as a pet also means your house will need to be bunny-proofed, which includes putting all chewable cords and cables out of sight and reach. In reality, getting a rabbit for your child is much like getting them a small dog. These intelligent animals require a lot of attention and need proper veterinary care and playtime every day to remain happy.

According to the Humane Society, after dogs and cats, rabbits are the animals most commonly surrendered to shelters. People get them before truly understanding the long term commitment and responsibility involved, then end up leaving them at the shelter, where they are often euthanized.

Not a Gift

Other people, after realizing the rabbit requires more work than they are willing to provide, may let the rabbit out in the backyard, in hopes of it surviving in the wild. Just like your house dog and cat, rabbits are domesticated animals and cannot fend for themselves. The chances of survival for a rabbit in the wild are extraordinarily low.

“Rabbits and chickens can make wonderful companions, but those adorable babies grow up quickly into adults that will need proper socialization, care, and companionship for many years,” said Inga Fricke, The Humane Society’s director of sheltering and pet care issues.

Adopting a rabbit, just like adopting a cat or dog, isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. It is especially not a suitable choice for an Easter gift for a child. Rather than gifting a live animal, buy a chocolate rabbit, a stuffed animal, or donate to a rabbit rescue organization to help rabbits that have been saved from shelters and need new homes. Learn more about what is involved in caring for a rabbit here.

The Benefits of Fostering a Pet

The benefits of having a pet are immeasurable: companionship, feeling of safety, reduced risk of depression, reduced risk of heart disease, and oftentimes, a great source of amusement. Not every one is in the position to adopt a pet, though.

Whether you are on a strict budget, you travel frequently, or you just don’t know what kind of pet you want, taking the step of adoption is a commitment that isn’t right for every one. Fortunately, fostering a pet provides all the benefits of having a pet without the long time commitment of adoption.

Why Fostering Helps

Statistics from the Humane Society estimate that approximately fostering a pet2.7 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters each year across the United States. A number of factors contribute to this number, but a main one is a failure to spay and neuter these animals.

Too many strays are still intact and continue to breed even though there is not enough food, shelter, and space to house them all. Sadly, many of them die every year because of the lack of space. There is a way to help address this issue, though, and animal rescues across the country are constantly doing so by helping promote spay and neuter programs and rescuing homeless animals. Fostering pets saves lives and provides both the human and the pet with benefits they wouldn’t be able to attain without fostering.

Fostering essentially means you are taking care of an animal for a temporary period of time. Usually, an animal remains in the same foster home until he or she is adopted, but it can vary depending on the situation. Many rescue organizations rely on foster homes to help continue their work of saving animals.

What do Fosters Do?

Pet foster parents take care of the dog, cat, or whatever animal it may be once it has been rescued from the shelter. This way, the animal can be socialized before it gets adopted, which increases the chances of a successful adoption and makes for a happier pet, too.

Fostering provides that animal the chance to learn housebreaking, crate training, basic manners and obedience, and even tricks before it goes into its adoptive home. It also provides a safe space and environment for the animal, so he or she feels comfortable and is able to experience the good life out of the shelter.

For foster parents, the situation is often a win-win. Adopting an animal can be expensive, but fostering, especially if you work with a local rescue organization, is typically free or costs very little. The rescue organization usually covers all the veterinary and food costs, leaving the foster parent to buy any toys if they want. So, the foster parent gets all the benefits of living with an animal without having to handle the financial expenses. For some people, especially college students and younger people, this can provide the perfect situation. You still need time to devote to the foster animal, but there is little to no financial burden.

Saving Lives

Besides the benefits that the human and pet reap from the foster situation, rescuing that animal from the shelter also makes room for a new animal to be taken in by animal control. That means every animal that is living in a foster home equates to another life saved in the shelter.

If you are able, consider fostering with a local rescue organization in your area. Fostering pets provides a wonderful opportunity to help not only enrich your life with various pets whenever you have the time, but the opportunity to save the lives of more innocent animals, too.