Winter is quickly approaching. It’s a time of the year that creates stress for both humans and animals. Animal shelter and rescue directors know and understand how vulnerable the animals in their care are during the cold weather months. They need to make sure all of their volunteers understand the harsh realities of winter and how it impacts the animals.

Winter safety tips

Implement these six tips to improve winter safety for your animals and shelter.

  1. Education. Schedule a volunteer training that covers winter safety tips for your shelter and animals. Educated volunteers increase the quality of care your volunteers receive. Make the training mandatory for all volunteers to attend. This gives your long-term volunteers an opportunity to increase and share their past experiences with other volunteers.
  2. Limit outside time. Fur on animals doesn’t mean they are protected from the cold temperatures. Take them outside for their daily walks and breaks, but bring them back inside to stay warm the remainder of their day.
  1. Create an emergency plan. Depending on your location, an emergency winter weather plan is valuable. Meet with your volunteer team to review what measures you need to take in the event of severe winter weather. If there is a foot of snow, how will the animal get walked, fed, and taken care of? Who is responsible for making the trip in the snow to check on them? Does it make sense to have stand-by foster parents that can care for them during a storm? Planning this in advance alleviates a great deal of stress later.
  1. Purchase a generator. A generator is extremely valuable.  It keeps the building heated and the animals warm during unexpected power outages. Prepare before a winter storm arrives by purchasing one now.
  1. Prepare for storms. Winter weather is normally predicted days in advance. Make plans when snow is predicted; especially if it can delay daily commutes. Make sure the animals have plenty of food and water along with a comfy place to keep warm.
  1. Pay attention to the animals. Check animals’ paws for signs of frostbite. Monitor them after outside time for signs of hypothermia- whining, shivering, or weakness. Consistent monitoring is the key to keeping animals healthy during the cold-weather season.

Educate your volunteers to give them a better understanding of winter expectations and the animals care needs. Making your shelter a safe place during the cold months improves the well-being of the animals in your care.

Animals in shelters typically come from a background of abuse and neglect. Sometimes these animals have little or no social skills with other animals or humans. Similar to humans, social skills with humans or other animals are vital.

What is socialization?

Socialization teaches dogs to interact with humans and other animals in a friendly manner. Those responsible for socializing dogs use different tactics and methods. Placing dogs in foster homes and forever homes requires they have certain socialization skills. The skills required depend on the makeup of those homes. Do the homes have children, other dogs, or other pets? How does the dog respond to children, males, females, and other animals?

Often times, animal shelters know little about the dogs in their care. Especially when the dogs are found abandoned. In these situations, how do you know what type of environment they will thrive in? The best shelters perform aggression testing to determine what social skills are in place and which need to be worked on.

Proper socialization decreases the dog’s stress and the chance of lashing out. Shelter dogs need to be introduced to socializing differently than a 3-week old puppy. Follow these steps for socializing your shelter dogs:

  1. Choose the right volunteer. Choose volunteers who are calm by nature. Anxiousness is easily detected by the dogs. If the volunteer is anxious or quick to yank on the leash, the dogs get scared.
  2. Introduce them to other shelter dogs. During the initial meetings keep both dogs on a loose leash. This gives the dogs chance to move freely to check out the surrounding environment. Keep the dogs about 8 feet apart to avoid a face to face meeting which many dogs don’t enjoy.
  3. Pay attention. Take notice of how the dogs react to one another. Look for signs of discomfort – stiff body, bared teeth, or growling. Maintain distance between the dogs in these situations or stop for the day if they don’t calm down.
  4. Introduce them to a group setting. After the dogs do well in the one on one introduction, they can be introduced to a group setting. Have the volunteer take the dog into a group environment on a leash. Drop the leash inside – give them chance to explore while still having a method to manage them. Take them off the leash after 20-30 minutes of good behavior. Continue to watch them for another 20- 30 minutes to make sure they remain calm.
  5. Slowly move them full-time to the group setting. Move new dogs into the group setting in stages. Let them stay for a few hours adding time every day until you work up to a full day with the other dogs.

Animal Shelters and rescues attend adoption events as exhibitors to help raise mission awareness and increase adoptions.  Events range from a small open house to a larger event with multiple animal shelters and rescues.  Deciding to attend an event comes with risks. Plan in advance to minimize these risks. Train your volunteer team on how their actions can help protect your animal shelter or rescue. Here are five things your animal shelter needs to know before attending a special event:

  1. Does the event align with your mission? Look at the mission or goal of the event.  Does their goal align with your mission? If the two do not align, the event is not in your best interest.  Attending an event that does not promote your mission, leaves you open to negative publicity or loss of a positive reputation.
  2. Read the contract. Most event organizers require you to comply with rules and an agreement to become an exhibitor. Make sure you read the contract or agreement to determine if you can meet these requirements. Common event guidelines include set-up and tear down times, proof of insurance, vaccine requirements for animals, and expectations for how you present yourself during the event. If you are unable to meet the requirements outlined in the agreement do not register as an exhibitor.  You risk a negative impact to your animal shelter or rescue if you attend and do not follow the guidelines.
  3. What can go wrong? Prior to attending an event, make a list of all the potential risks. Risks include animals getting loose, volunteers not showing, animals injuring attendees or volunteers.  Once you have a list of possibilities, create a proactive plan that identifies how you will minimize the potential for these.  For example, one significant risk is an animal jumping on an attendee and scratching that individual.  A plan to keep that from occurring includes making sure volunteers are assisting the attendees while talking to, petting and playing with the animals.
  4. Choose the right animals. Choosing the right animals to take is a key in minimizing the risk of injury to attendees. Your goal is to increase adoptions by attending the event.  Animals that have just recently entered your care may not be a good fit.  Choose animals that can handle social situations and interaction with strangers.  Animals that are skittish or easily scared have unpredictable behaviors and should remain at the shelter or in their foster home during events.
  5. Choose the right volunteer team. Volunteers who attend the event need to be knowledgeable of your animal shelter or rescue, your mission and how to present themselves during an event. If you choose to send new volunteers, make sure you pair them with an experienced volunteer that understands adoption event logistics and your expectations.

Adoption and special events are a powerful way to educate and involve your community with your shelter.  Follow these steps before attending an event to create a positive experience for all involved.

 

Weight Control In Pets

September 23, 2015

Approximately 54 percent of cats and dogs in America are obese. Animal obesity tends to be a major problem for pet owners as it is important to watch what your pet eats just as you monitor what you eat on a daily basis. There are several ways that you can control the weight in your pet by simply making sure they get enough activity throughout the day and monitoring what they eat.

First determine if your dog or cat is overweight. This can be done by looking at them and noticing that they have a sagging stomach, no waistline, and/or a broad flat back. See if you can grab a handful of fat. This will help you recognize there must be something done immediately to help your pet lose weight. Obesity can shorten your pet’s life and excess fat will impair its health and quality of life.

Indoor cats of 10 to 15 pounds should not eat more than 200 to 220 calories a day and dogs at 10 to 15 pounds shouldn’t eat more than 275 calories a day. Check the food you’re giving them and determine if it’s right for them. The more organic and healthier the food is the more chances your pet will live longer without gaining much weight. Knowing how many calories your pet takes in a day is vital to preventing animal obesity.

The following steps will help decrease their chances of gaining weight.

  • Neutered/spayed pets tend to gain weight easier. Be prepared to monitor what your cat or dog eats regularly to avoid obesity.
  • Decrease food intake and increase activity level. Take dogs on longer walks and provide cats with more toys and things to climb on including cat trees.
  • Feed twice a day in smaller amounts than usual. Avoid any table food. Give fewer treats and offer them in the middle of the day so that they can burn it off before dinner.

Try playing with your pet. Dogs can go for a run in the park while cats can have an activity time in the morning or evening for chasing rope, lasers, or balls.

Pets like to spend time with their owners and if you’re active they will want to be active with you. It’s more than just petting or feeding time to your pets, it’s sharing moments with you that help them bond with you and live longer lives.

Horse First Aid

August 5, 2015

Very little is as nerve wracking for an equestrian as finding your horse injured and being unsure how to help. Keeping updated on animal health and first aid procedures can help you be ready in the event of an injury.

Remain Safe

Before rushing to your horse’s aid, ensure you can do so safely. Check the environment around the horse for possible dangers. Assess your horse’s disposition. Even the gentlest animal can lash out when frightened or in pain. If you cannot help safely, wait for help.

Vitals

Checking vitals is the first step in determining how to help your horse.

  • Ensure the patient is breathing and whether breathing is labored or obstructed.
  • Find a pulse point and check heartbeat.
  • If possible, check the horse’s temperature.

Considering Help

You must determine if it is necessary to call for help, or if you can treat the injury yourself. The answer will depend on both the situation and the handler’s level of skill and confidence. Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian in your area if:

  • You are unable to stop the bleeding.
  • The wound is large or cuts deeper than skin level.
  • You think the injury is a puncture wound.
  • Any injury involving a joint.
  • Any time your horse’s movement is significantly impaired.
  • Any eye trauma.
  • You suspect that there might be more damage than you can see or internal damage.
  • You are unable to safely treat the horse yourself.
  • You are unsure of the appropriate treatment or how to perform it properly.

Treatment

Whether you are sure you can treat an injury yourself, or need to care for an injured horse until help arrives, stopping the flow of blood from any wound should be high priority. Clean the wound thoroughly and use clean cloth to stop the bleeding.

Once bleeding is stopped double check that all wounds are free of debris and clean before you begin dressing them. Use an antiseptic to aid in cleansing. Apply an ointment and a protective bandage, making sure the pressure is even.

For blunt trauma and inflammation, apply cold water or a cold compress to reduce swelling.

Being Prepared

It is important that you are prepared for incidents before they occur. Educate yourself on animal health and first aid, many local companies offer classes. Keep a well-stocked equine first aid kit in case you should need it.

Stress and Your Animal

July 29, 2015

Stress is a killer and it affects our pets too. Animal care becomes part of our lives when we take on a pet. When an animal is stressed, adrenaline is released into their systems and their heart rate and respiration rates pick up. This is the same thing that happens to humans, and it makes you want to go seek out the comfort food. Our pets look for the same comforts that help us. Unfortunately they aren’t as able to help themselves as we are, so we need to lend them a helping hand.

Signs of Stress in a Pet

  • Diarrhea, constipation
  • Isolation or hiding
  • Increased sleeping
  • Aggression
  • Excessive grooming (cats)
  • Missing the litter box (cats)

Animal care is our responsibility, and even moving a piece of furniture, installing new carpets or introducing a new pet into the family can cause your little furry friend to experience stress.

Ways to Help Relieve Stress in a Pet

  • Play and with your pet.
  • Create a quiet place with a favorite blanket and toy.
  • Use a good quality food.

Quiet time and a little tender loving care will go a long way to helping your pet relax, so you both can be happy and enjoy your precious time together. Our companions need comfort too at times, and who better to give it to them than those love them best.

How To Care For Cows

July 27, 2015

Cows can be hard to care for and depending on their purpose will determine how much work will be involved. If you have cows that have plenty of land to graze on they will be less susceptible to diseases and will get exercise along with plenty of food. For those who are being farmed and kept in dry lots need more care as there are more potential and higher risks of diseases and illnesses to occur. There are steps to follow to make sure that you are providing the best animal care possible for your cows.

Provide plenty of food for the cows. Depending on the conditions the cows are living in will also determine how they will get their food. In snowy areas they will need to be kept inside where there is dry food and grazing will not be possible. While kept in a dry lot provide hay and silage along with feed and grass as additional food.

Keep water available at all times and make sure that it is kept clean. It’s important for your livestock to have loose minerals available as well including salt added to the water or cows really like a salt block that they can lick on as their food can be rather dry.

Maintain fresh bedding for the cows and remove any feces that has occurred throughout the day. This will help prevent diseases from spreading and provide a healthy surrounding for your animals.

Additional animal care necessities for your cows is:

  • Keep up with vaccines
  • De-worm and De-lice as needed
  • Create a breeding program for dairy cows as they need to breed for developing milk
  • Milk cows two times daily or every 12 hours
  • Make sure that fences and machinery are maintained otherwise your cows can wonder outside your land and roam in unwanted territory.

By following all of these steps in caring for your cows you will display healthy treatment and proper animal care.

The world of dog products is vast and all-encompassing. If there is a problem, there is an animal care product to fix it. One product quickly gaining traction for it’s multi-beneficial use is dog toe grips.

How do they work?

Dogs use their nails for traction they flex their paws and dig in their nails like cleats on natural ground. But on surfaces such as marble, linoleum, or hardwood floors, their hard nails can’t get a grip or traction. Toe grips are non-slip grips that fit right into a dog’s individual toe nails and here by friction. This eliminates the slipping problem that can be frustrating for all dogs- but almost paralyzing for senior dogs or those with certain injuries. Because the grips it onto the nails only- most dogs don’t even realize they are on, unlike socks or boots which fit over a whole paw and a dog can chew or push off.

Toe grips come in multiple sizes, so you are required to measure your dog’s nails to ensure a proper fit. Toe grips can migrate up the nail, so be sure to check regularly to ensure they are in the proper place.

What are the benefits?

Dog toe grips improve mobility and stability, increase canine confidence, and reduce the risk of slip and fall injuries. They are especially useful for senior dogs who do not have the ability to compensate on slippery hardwood floors they way they did when they were young to avoid sliding, or to those dogs who have difficulty going from laying to standing. They have also proven and effective way to restore confidence and mobility in dogs with the following problems:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Neurologic issues
  • ACL/Cruciate injuries
  • Blindness
  • Hind end weakness
  • Tripawds

The best part is- you no longer have to cover your house in carpet or throw rugs to allow your dog full access to your home. A set of dog toe grips will typically run you about $30- and are available both online and in pet stores. A set can last up to three months before needing replacement.

Dog toe grips are an affordable and easy animal care to give your dog his confidence and mobility back!

Police in Twinsburg, Ohio have taken a proactive approach when it comes to animal care.

After a police dog from another Ohio community suffered a heat-related death last year while being left in a police cruiser, the department has upgraded its own vehicle heat-sensor devices to make sure that the tragedy won’t happen again.

The device, called Hot-N-Pop Pro and manufactured by Ace K9, includes a variety of components which will monitor the interior temperature of the vehicle and activate hard-to-miss warning devices.

Among Hot-N-Pop Pro’s many features are:

* An ‘Auto On/Manual Off’ feature in which the device automatically activates when the vehicle ignition is turned on and can only be turned off manually. It stays on when you exit the vehicle and continues to monitor the interior environment.

* An  ‘S.O.S Horn Honk’ feature which activates when your K-9’s environment becomes dangerous, setting off a unique horn sound in the process. The device automatically turns on the sirens and lights, as well.

* A ‘No K-9 Left Behind’ feature which continues to monitor the interior environment until the dog is actually removed from the vehicle.

* A ‘Dual Window Drop Module’ in which your cruiser’s windows will automatically open – and the air conditioning turned on – when the car becomes too hot.

The old system used by Twinsburg police only activated the horn when the car became dangerously hot. And the department decided to take an additional step in its animal care by installing a fan in an inside window specifically for its K-9 officer.

According to an article on www.wksu.org, there are about 20,000 active police dogs in the U.S. There have been about 30 heat-related deaths since 2012, the article notes.

Twinsburg police have never suffered the loss of a K-9 officer to heat-related causes. With the Hot-N-Pop Pro, they intend to keep it that way.

Weight Control In Pets

July 17, 2015

Approximately 54 percent of cats and dogs in America are obese. Animal obesity tends to be a major problem for pet owners as it is important to watch what your pet eats just as you monitor what you eat on a daily basis. There are several ways that you can control the weight in your pet by simply making sure they get enough activity throughout the day and monitoring what they eat.

First determine if your dog or cat is overweight. This can be done by looking at them and noticing that they have a sagging stomach, no waistline, and/or a broad flat back. See if you can grab a handful of fat. This will help you recognize there must be something done immediately to help your pet lose weight. Obesity can shorten your pet’s life and excess fat will impair its health and quality of life.

Indoor cats of 10 to 15 pounds should not eat more than 200 to 220 calories a day and dogs at 10 to 15 pounds shouldn’t eat more than 275 calories a day. Check the food you’re giving them and determine if it’s right for them. The more organic and healthier the food is the more chances your pet will live longer without gaining much weight. Knowing how many calories your pet takes in a day is vital to preventing animal obesity.

The following steps will help decrease their chances of gaining weight.

  • Neutered/spayed pets tend to gain weight easier. Be prepared to monitor what your cat or dog eats regularly to avoid obesity.
  • Decrease food intake and increase activity level. Take dogs on longer walks and provide cats with more toys and things to climb on including cat trees.
  • Feed twice a day in smaller amounts than usual. Avoid any table food. Give fewer treats and offer them in the middle of the day so that they can burn it off before dinner.

Try playing with your pet. Dogs can go for a run in the park while cats can have an activity time in the morning or evening for chasing rope, lasers, or balls.

Pets like to spend time with their owners and if you’re active they will want to be active with you. It’s more than just petting or feeding time to your pets, it’s sharing moments with you that help them bond with you and live longer lives.