Searching for a Purebred Dog? Try a Rescue First.

If you talk to any dog lover, chances are they will be able to tell your their favorite breed of dog. Even if they don’t have one themselves, most people have a certain kind of dog that they think is the most attractive or most desirable, for any number of reasons. Be it a Husky, a German Shepherd, a Chihuahua, a Pug, or an Australian Shepherd, there are hundreds of various dog breeds and each one has a different temperament.

Some people are extremely particular about the breed of dog that they want for a companion animal and many of those people turn to breeders to fill their need. The truth is, though, if you are searching for a purebred dog, a great place to start is your local rescue organization.

Rescue a Purebred

You may be surprised to hear me say that. A rescue organization? Don’t they typically adopt out pound dogs and mutts? Well, yes. But if you think about it, a dog who ends up at the pound had to start somewhere. As nice as it would be if things were this way, not all dog owners are responsible, whether they have a shelter dog or a purebred dog. All dogs are vulnerable to being taken to the pound and the chances that you can find a purebred dog at the shelter are actually much higher than you might think.

According to the Humane Society, approximately 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred dogs. Compound that fact with the fact that many rescue organizations focus on rescuing a specific breed of dog and the chances of you finding the specific breed you are looking for without going to a breeder or a pet shop go up drastically.

More and more dog rescue organizations are being started and many are breed-specific rescues, meaning they only take in a certain breed of dog. Border Collie rescues, Rat Terrier rescues, Husky rescues, they all exist. It’s just a matter of locating them. If you live in a big city or a highly populated state, it will likely be fairly easy to find the type of dog you are looking for in a rescue. All it takes is a little online research and some scouting around and you might find exactly the dog you envisioned.

Purebreds and Health

There’s no guarantee the dog you find will be 100% purebred. If the dog purebred dogis adoptable from a rescue organization, the likelihood of having accompanying bloodline paperwork and information is quite low (but not nonexistent!). This is when the factor of health comes into play. Many purebred dogs have serious health problems, either as a result of breed genetics or repeated inbreeding. Purebred dogs with a strict lineage may have just the look you want, but the health aspect can often be devastating to both the pet and your wallet.

Larger dogs are more prone to hip and leg problems, pugs are prone to breathing and hip problems, and other breeds are prone to brain, spine, or heart conditions. According to Scientific American, “half of all Cavalier King Charles spaniels will develop mitral valve disease, a serious heart condition that leaves the dogs susceptible to premature death. By the same age, up to 70 percent will suffer from canine syringomyelia, a debilitating neurological disorder in which the brain is too large for the skull, causing severe pain in the neck and shoulders, along with damage to parts of the dog’s spinal cord.” These spaniels aren’t alone in their health woes.

Cost of Buying a Purebred

Many purebred dogs will experience similar health problems as they age, putting them at risk of dying much younger than their mixed-breed counterparts. So unless you are adopting a dog to be a show dog or a breeding dog, 100% breed purity shouldn’t be a concern. In fact, adopting a dog who has a little bit of mixed blood might actually be a better idea. Veterinary costs for these types of conditions can be astronomical, often up in the thousands of dollars. If the dog has frequent problems, those bills can add up quickly.

Besides the health problems of truly purebred dogs, buying one from a breeder or a pet store is also much more expensive than adopting one from a rescue. Buying from a breeder or pet store can cost thousands of dollars, and you often don’t get the same benefits that you will from adopting from a rescue. Nearly all rescue organizations require that their dogs be spayed/neutered and fully vaccinated before being adopted out, which means tied into the few hundred dollars you pay is the cost of expensive health bills that you no longer have to worry about. With dogs from pet stores or breeders, that is often not the case. You are typically responsible for vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery on your own.

It’s understandable that people want certain kinds of dogs. Personalities, looks, and skills are often dependent upon the breed, but before you race off to spend thousands of dollars on a purebred dog, look around at your local shelter and rescue organizations first. You might just be surprised at what you find.

Taking Your Pet for a Car Ride

If you have a dog or cat, chances are you have had to take them for a ride in the car at least once. Whether it was for a trip to the vet, a vacation road trip, or just running errands, driving our pets in the car is an inevitable part of life. Fortunately for some people, their pets love going for rides. For others, though, the task is not as enjoyable.

Driving in the Car with Your Pet pet car ride

Some animals absolutely hate riding in the car. A foster dog I once had would vomit every time he took a ride in the car, whether it was for five minutes or five hours. Some dogs like my former foster experience serious anxiety during car rides, that is either caused by previous problems in their life or simply a fear of the unknown, which a ride in the car certainly is for pets.

Riding in the car involves a lot of noises, sights, and smells that are both unfamiliar and overwhelming to dogs and cats. It’s easy to forget that our pets can detect a lot of information that we can’t, but it’s important to remember in order to understand your pet and why they are acting the way they are. Before you take your pet on a car ride, consider these questions to determine if it’s the best idea.

1) Is it enjoyable?

If your pet loves riding in the car, which many do, taking them on a trip to the store or on vacation with you likely isn’t a big deal. Many dogs relish in the ability to observe all the passing people and sights and enjoy spending time with their owner, be it in their home or in the car. If your dog or cat seems to like his or her time in the car, there isn’t any need for concern. Just make sure your pet is properly secured so in case of an accident, your furry friend will be safe from being a projectile in a crash.

2) Is it a long ride? 

There is a big difference between an hour long ride and a six hour long ride. Before you bring your pet with you in the car, think about the length of the trip and your pet’s needs during that period of time. Will they need to stop to use the bathroom? Will they become stressed out halfway through? A trip to the vet down the road, while stressful, isn’t even comparable to a trip to the next state to visit family. Think about the duration of the trip and whether or not your pet will experience any distress before having him or her tag along.

3) Is it necessary? 

Again, driving to the vet is a whole different story than driving to a vacation spot. If your pet tends to get nervous, anxious, or carsick during rides, ask yourself whether or not it is imperative that your pet join you in the car. If you are taking your cat or dog to the vet, obviously there is no question of necessity. Vet visits are unavoidable and typically only involve a short car ride. If you simply want to bring your pet to the beach house with you because you think they will enjoy it, consider whether or not they will enjoy the car ride, too, because that is the first leg of the trip and may set the tone for the entire vacation if they are uncomfortable in the car.

If your pet isn’t happy during car rides, opt to leave them at home with a pet-sitter instead. You can see them when you get home and not only will you be glad you didn’t have to deal with a stressed out pet, your pet will be glad they didn’t have to endure a scary car ride.

Consider Your Options

Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a long car ride with a pet. If you are moving, for example, you have no choice but to bring your pet with you and a car ride is often the least traumatizing option, especially when compared to being packed with cargo in a plane, which one can only assume is a terrifying pet car rideexperience.

If your pet dislikes car rides but needs to be included in a long one, you might want to speak with your vet about some medication to help make them drowsy and less anxious. Pets react differently to this type of medication, so be sure you are aware of any potential allergic reactions or side effects ahead of time and have done your research before giving your pet any drugs. Sometimes, though, they can be a big help to both the owner and the pet and help to reduce any stress from the ride.

If the trip is simply a leisurely activity, review the questions and decide whether or not bringing your pet is really the best idea. Many of us love to have our pets by our side at all times, but sometimes we have to think of their perception of the experience, too. If it’s likely to be a negative one, find a great petsitter and go off by yourself. If your pet enjoys car rides, have him hop in the car and off you go! Whatever you do, be sure to take into consideration your pet’s wants and needs, too, before taking a ride in the car.

Does Your Pet Have Allergies?

When Spring rolls around, many people across the country are once again faced with the problem of Spring allergies. A runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and a scratchy throat are just a few of the not-so-lovely symptoms of seasonal allergies. Fortunately for us humans, we can feel when our allergies are coming on and can treat them, either by means of natural and holistic methods or by taking allergy medication.

Spotting Allergies in Your Pet

For our pets, though, it might not be as easy to tell if or when they have allergies and unfortunately, they can’t tell us themselves. It’s important to keep a close eye on your pet when allergy season comes around, though, because he or she might be struggling with symptoms of allergies without you even knowing it. To help ensure your pet stays in tip-top health all year long, watch out for these three symptoms of seasonal allergies in your pets:

1) Frequent sneezing or coughing: If your pet is sneezing or coughing more than normal, it may be time to take a trip to the vet. Environmental irritants could be infiltrating your pet’s nose and throat and bothering their sinuses or natural breathing patterns. If it’s just a couple sneezes, it’s probably normal. If it persists, go in for a check up.

2) Red eyes, teary eyes, or eye discharge: Pollen and other pet health allergiespesky environmental allergens can easily make their way into your pet’s eyes and cause serious discomfort or an eye infection. If you notice any discharge in your pet’s eyes or see that they are especially teary or red, you may want to get him or her checked our for allergies.

3) Scratching and/or licking certain spots compulsively: For some pets, allergens actually cause skin reactions, which can lead to seriously obsessive scratching or licking. Those actions, if not stopped, can lead to hot spots on your pet’s body, which are essentially bald, red spots from which the hair or fur has been worn away. If you ever see your pet bothering a hot spot, do your best to stop them and prevent them from continuing until you can get to a vet.

Don’t Wait for Treatment

Just like in humans, allergies in dogs, cats, or other animals can come on quickly, so if you notice your pet is exhibiting any symptoms of allergies, don’t delay in taking them to the vet. The quicker you are to catch the issues, the easier (and cheaper!) they will be to treat.

As always, keep a watchful eye on your pet and if you notice anything out of the norm, a trip to the vet never hurts.

Flea Season is Here: Do You Know How to Protect Your Pet?

With warmer weather comes sandals, shorts, and pool time. It’s not all pleasant, though: fleas come along with the warmer weather, too. As it warms up, it’s time to begin thinking about fleas and how you can help your pet stay flea-free!

Flea Basics

Fleas don’t just come out in the warmer weather; flea seasonthey are actually trying to cling onto your pet all year long. Depending on where you live, this might be a big issue every month, but for most people and their pets, summer marks the worst time for fleas, so it requires the most attention.

Fleas are tiny little bugs that are considered ectoparasites and have been in existence for more than 100 million years, so this is no new phenomenon. Since hygiene became a way of life, though, keeping fleas out of your home and off of your pets is important to helping maintain good health amongst all of the family, because besides just being disgusting, fleas can pose a serious threat to your pet’s health.

The miniature ectoparasites are most commonly cat fleas or Ctenocephalides felis. Dog fleas, or Ctenocephalides canis, are another kind of fleas that are less common. Fleas are able to cling onto animals and cause several different health problems in both humans and animals. When given the option, though, fleas usually go for pets first because they are designed to hide in fur and it is easier to live on animals with fur than humans who don’t have any.

Helping Your Pet

For many pets, when fleas latch on and begin living in their fur, itching and scratching occurs. If your pet is doing this frequently, it is important to check him for fleas. You can either do it yourself or if you prefer, take him to a veterinary office for an exam. When looking for fleas on your pet, look for small black bugs. If you don’t see any of the actual fleas (they are quick to run and hide), look for flea dirt, which looks like small black specks. Besides causing skin problems, fleas can also cause tapeworms in animals if ingested. If your dog or cat does have fleas, make sure you begin treatment as soon as possible.

If your pet already has fleas, there are a number of various treatment options. A flea bath is one option that can help get rid of some of the fleas currently living on your pet. Prescription medication is another option that helps prevent the eggs from hatching, which stops the flea life cycle from reoccurring. If your pet doesn’t have fleas, make sure you have him or her on a flea prevention medication that helps avoid the problem altogether in the first place so you don’t have to worry about flea baths and other problems like that. Even with preventative medication, though, there is still a slight chance your pet can contract fleas, so check your pet regularly.

Just like excessive bugs or bug bites bother humans, fleas can be a serious annoyance to a dog or cat. More than that, they can cause some significant health problems, so do your best to help protect your cat or dog (or both) from fleas.

The Pet Overpopulation Problem

When it comes to spaying and neutering dogs and cats, some animal lovers are staunchly adamant about the need for the procedures and some even go so far as to believe that every single dog and cat should be spayed or neutered. It may seem like an unnecessary practice, but in fact, most of these people want it that way with good reason. The overpopulation of pets in the United States results in the unnecessary death of millions of animals every year, which is why it needs to be addressed as quickly as possible by all means available.

The Problem

Here in the United States, we are in love with our pets. More so than people in almost any other country on the planet, Americans love to love their pets. We love to spoil them with food, overfeed them treats, dress them up in miniature clothing, take them out to run all our errands with us, and even exercise with them. Some people will do just about anything for their pets and some people include their pets as family. If we love pets so much, why then are we not doing our best to manage the severe pet overpopulation problem that is currently plaguing our nation?

6-8 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters pet overpopulationacross the US every year and only 3-4 million make it out, according to data from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy. The rest are euthanized by one of a number of procedures. That means every year across the country, just as many dogs and cats are killed as they are adopted. That reveals a serious problem within our nation that needs to be addressed before it continues to worsen, which brings me to the solution: spaying and neutering.

Fixing Your Pet

Spaying and neutering our dogs and cats is the easiest and most effective solution to helping curb pet overpopulation and reduce the number of innocent animals killed every year in shelters. There are only so many animal shelters in the country, around 3,500 to be exact, and they can only take in so many animals at a time. Once most shelters are full, they begin euthanizing for space.

Many times, a person’s dog or cat will become pregnant without the owner’s initial knowledge and will give birth to babies that the owner doesn’t want. Oftentimes, the owner will drop off both the mother and the babies at the animal shelter, not wanting to deal with the hassle of trying to adopt out the puppies. Outdoor cats who remain unfixed give birth to litters quite often. One female cat and her offspring will produce 100 cats in seven years, assuming that all adult cats remain alive for all seven years, according to the Feral Cat Project

Need for Change

According to the APPA information, 83.3 million dogs are owned in the United States, along with 95.6 million cats. A great majority of these, 83% of dogs and 91% of cats, are spayed or neutered. Regardless of these high numbers, breeding continues to happen due to breeding operations, both licensed and unlicensed, and unaware owners.

Without a change in policy regarding the breeding of pets, the perpetual euthanasia in animal shelters across the United States cannot and will not change. It’s imperative that we as pet owners step up and take responsibility for our pets and their actions. Getting them spayed and neutered is an excellent way to help prevent an unwanted burden and keep extra animals out of the shelter.

Next time you decide to adopt a pet, think about committing yourself to getting that pet spayed or neutered, as well. Spaying and neutering pets can not only prevent health problems (which will be discussed in an upcoming post), but can help save lives, too.

Why There is Blood in Your Cat’s Urine

Good pet owners work hard to make sure their pets remain healthy and happy, and sometimes that can include some not so pleasant tasks. Sifting through the litter box on occasion, for example, isn’t exactly enjoyable but can provide you with vital information that indicates whether or not your cat is having any health problems. If you’ve noticed that there is blood in your cat’s urine, it’s important that you don’t overlook that information and instead use it to help figure out exactly what is going on with your feline friend.


The condition of having blood in the urine is called hematuria cat healthand can be a sign of a serious health problem with your cat.  If you have seen blood in any urine excreted by your cat, make sure you don’t wait to start looking into the problem. Blood in cat urine can be one of the last manifestations of certain health issues that can pose a severe threat to your cat’s health, so as soon as you observe it, take action.

Besides the obvious symptom of blood in the urine, other related symptoms include urine that is slightly tinged red or a cat that has trouble urinating or displays distress while trying to urinate.

One possible cause of hematuria is familial hematuria, which means blood in urine runs in the family and is often passed down through the family line. This condition may show up in cats when they are younger. If your cat is older, blood in the urine could potentially indicate cancer, but there are many other conditions that could cause urine to have blood in it, so don’t worry too much until you have ruled out all possible causes.

Possible Causes

Some of the most common causes of hematuria include blood clotting, a low platelet count, or an infectious disease, whether viral, bacterial, or fungal. Hematuria can also be caused by urinary tract disease, which can exist either in the upper or lower tracts and can include infection, inflammatory kidney disease, or stones. Trauma and cancer can also cause hematuria.

If you ever notice blood in your cat’s urine, it’s crucial to bring your cat to a veterinary’s office immediately. If it isn’t your regular vet, be prepared to give the health history of the cat and provide any medical records. Describe any symptoms in as much detail as possible to give the vet as much information as is available. Depending on the situation, various tests may need to be administered to determine what is wrong with your cat. Your vet may want to test using ultrasonography, radiography, or it may be necessary to conduct a biopsy for a diagnosis.

Much like testing, treatment will depend on the situation. The condition may mandate something as simple as antibiotics or require something more serious like a blood transfusion or surgery. Whatever needs to be done, know that taking your cat to the vet in the early stages is always the most helpful thing you can do. If you ever suspect something is wrong with your cat based on its behavior or a more blatant sign like blood in the urine, don’t hesitate to take a trip to the vet.

6 Foods That Are Dangerous for Cats

Oftentimes as owners, we humans like to spoil our pets. That is evident in the fact that somewhere between one-quarter and one-half of cats in the United States is overweight or obese. In addition to feeding them too much, sometimes we may accidentally feed them something that seems harmful to us but can actually be harmful to them.

Just like there are some foods that are toxic for dogs (all of which are also toxic for cats), there are several more human foods that are unsafe for cats to consume. Next time you think to give your cat some food, make sure it doesn’t include any of these six components.

6 Foods That Can Be Harmful to Cats

1)    Raw meat and fish – Because cats are carnivores, some owners want to feed their cats raw meats such as beef, poultry, or fish. Raw meat isn’t safe for cats, though, because they run the risk of consuming bacteria that can cause food poisoning and severe illness. Raw fish is especially dangerous because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, which destroys the essential B vitamin thiamine, or vitamin B1, in cats. Thiamine is vital to carbohydrate metabolism and without it, vomiting and gastrointestinal problems can occur in cats. Severe neurological problems often follow.

2)    Liver – Because cats require taurine, which comes from organ meat,food dangerous cats many people may think to feed their cats liver. Cats fed too much liver are in danger of Vitamin A toxicity, though, which leads to extreme bone problems like deformed bones, bone growths, osteoporosis, and can even be fatal.

3)    Milk and dairy – Despite all the sweet scenes in movies or cute photos that depict cats drinking from a bowl of milk, dairy, especially in the form of milk and ice cream, is not safe for cats to ingest. Most cats are lactose intolerant and because they lack the ability to digest dairy, they experience bad digestive problems including diarrhea when they eat it. Some cats can eat yogurt without any problem, but it depends on the cat.

4)    Fat and bones – Though cats need to eat meat to survive, there are certain parts that they shouldn’t eat because they can cause serious problems. Animal bones and animal fat can be extremely dangerous if eaten by a cat. Animal fat causes gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Bones are not only a choking hazard, but pose the threat of breaking or splintering during digestion and injuring or tearing the gastrointestinal tract.

5)    Raw eggs – Raw eggs are not recommended for cats food dangerous catsfor the same reason raw meat is not recommended for cats: it presents the possibility of food poisoning from a bacteria that causes salmonella or E. coli. Raw eggs also contain a protein called avidin, which hinders the absorption of biotin, a B vitamin, in cats. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that cats fed a diet with egg whites developed biotin deficiency. Biotin deficiency can cause problems with both the skin and the coats of cats.

6)    Tuna – Tuna that has been specifically processed for cat food is safe for cats to eat fairly regularly, but tuna produced for human consumption can actually be harmful to cats if over consumed. Regular canned tuna is okay as a treat every now and then, but too much can cause mercury poisoning in cats, so don’t overdo it.

Treating Your Cat Right

Cats are certainly carnivores and should be eating meat and a diet high in protein and fats, but raw animal products are not healthy for cats to consume and can cause serious illness. We all want to give our cats treats, but it’s important that we give them the right treats.

Appropriate treats for cats include vegetables, a small portion of cooked eggs, cooked meat, or homemade treats. Just be sure any treats are free of foods that may pose a threat to your cat’s health and keep treats to a minimum. If you’ve given your cat a few too many treats and he is looking a little plump, read these tips on how to help your pet maintain and remain at a healthy weight.

Top 5 Foods that are Toxic to Dogs

If you have ever had a dog, chances are you know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. But do you know why? Do you know other foods that can be dangerous for dogs to consume?

Preventing Poisoning in Dogs

Dogs can manage to get into all kinds of things when humans aren’t looking, so you might not even see it happen if your dog decides to eat something forbidden, but often there are consequences.

Because dogs can become extremely ill or even die if they ingest certain foods that are otherwise harmless for humans, it’s important to understand the symptoms of food toxicity and familiarize yourself with foods that can be harmful to your pup. Becoming aware of which foods pose a threat is an important part of being a responsible dog owner, so if you ever eat any of these 5 foods, make sure to keep them sealed up and away from your dog.

Top 5 Foods that are Toxic to Dogs

1) Chocolate – Most people are aware that chocolate can betoxic food dogs toxic for dogs;  it’s just a matter of keeping it away from them. The compounds in chocolate that cause a reaction in dogs are both caffeine and theobromine. A general rule to guide the effect of chocolate on dogs is the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Symptoms of poisoning include a high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

2) Onions – Though some people love adding shallots and garlic to every dish they cook, both foods are poisonous to dogs. Compounds in onions and garlic cause the destruction of red blood cells within the dog. The effect on red blood cells can lead to anemia, though symptoms can take between 3 to 5 days to manifest. If you think your dog has ingested either onion or garlic, keep an eye out and bring your dog to a vet if he or she seems unnaturally tired, weak, or has very dark urine.

3) Xylitol – This is an ingredient that many people are unaware of in the first place, let one cognizant of its harmful effect on dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in candy and baked goods, but most commonly in sugar-free gum. It can cause liver damage in dogs and has the potential to cause an extreme drop in blood sugar, depending on how much was consumed. Symptoms of toxicity poisoning from xylitol include low blood sugar, vomiting, and loss of coordination. If you do choose to chew sugar-free gum, make sure you don’t leave any packs lying around that your dog can reach.

4) Grapes – Delicious and healthy snacks for humans, both grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Scientists haven’t figured out just how they cause that reaction, but they are sure of the connection. Lethargy, dehydration including increased thirst and urination, and vomiting are all signs of kidney failure in dogs.

5) Alcohol – Not surprisingly, alcohol is poisonous to dogs. toxic food dogsBeverages like beer, wine, and cocktails can cause severe medical reactions in dogs, but those aren’t the only source of alcohol to monitor. Yeast dough can also cause alcohol intoxication in dogs. Because their stomachs are the perfect environmental host for yeast, the yeast multiplies rapidly, expanding within the dog’s stomach and increasing the production of alcohol, which leads to poisoning. If you work with yeast dough, never leave it out on the counter during the baking or cooking process.

Watch for Symptoms

These foods can be extraordinarily dangerous to dogs, so keep careful watch of the foods that you keep out around your canine companion. It’s not always possible to keep an eye on our faithful friends every second of every day, so if your dog seems to be acting strange or exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned, take him or her to a veterinary immediately. Better safe than sorry.