There are many reasons why opening your home to a foster pet enriches your life and saves the lives of shelter animals. Rescue organizations rely on fosters to provide homeless pets with a nourishing environment that they may otherwise not have a chance to receive due to limited shelter resources. Fostering is also a great way to learn if the lifestyle of a pet is right for you, or to help your community and local rescues. Becoming a great foster pet parent necessitates caring, compassion, and commitment.
While each individual shelter or rescue group may have their own unique set of requirements for fostership, here are a few steps to help you understand the world of fostering.
A common question is "How long will I have to foster a pet?". Foster periods generally last until a pet is adopted. Animals placed in foster care often come from backgrounds where they were homeless, abandoned, and do not take well to shelter environments. They may need specific medical care or rehabilitation. Each pet is an individual and will heal and adjust differently. The type of pet, breed, gender, or age may also influence the adoption process. The shelter or rescue group will work with you to match a pet that will best adapt and benefit from your home environment.
Many shelter and rescue foster programs provide all supplies such as food, bowls, leashes, collars, litters, and medications. Beds and toys may also be included, many of which are provided by donations. Healthcare treatment and costs are also usually provided by these organizations. Beyond working with your shelter or rescue, fosters benefit from a tight-knit community of volunteers and pet lovers. Sharing these experiences means that other fosters, trainers, groomers, and animal aficionados are willing to offer support. The costs of fostership are minimal when you strengthen relationships in your community and save the lives of animals in need.
If your pup is looking for some playtime, chances are they're familiar with the local dog park. Dog parks provide an essential environment for pets in urban and suburban neighborhoods. With two local dog parks in development - a Plymouth Dog Park, and a Scituate Dog Park - there will be plenty of options for dogs on the South Shore. While every dog enjoys their free time, there is an etiquette to be followed when sharing space with others. By monitoring your dog's social activity, you can help keep our parks safe.
Dog Park Etiquette Tips:
Respecting all pets and park-goers will allow you and your dog to make the most out of your park experience. A friendly, healthy, and trained pup means a happier dog park. Check out the video below for more dog park etiquette, and above all else, have fun with your pets!
June has officially arrived, Cape traffic begins, and the beaches are soon to start buzzing. Summer is here, and need we say more? No dilly dallying this time (we've already waited a whole winter, after all), so without further ado, here are our tips for getting the most out of some Summer waggin', lickin', and lovin'!
It's no secret that New England weather can escalate quickly, so always check the temperature outside. Most dogs are fine to lounge around at home or in the yard, as long as shade is available, but best not to bring your buddy out and about if the temp rises above 85F. Increased activity in hot weather puts your pup at risk of heat stroke, dehydration, and even sunburn if exposed outside without shelter or protection. We also advise against leaving your dog in a hot car, read more about How to Help Dogs Trapped in Hot Cars.
For staying cool, try wetting a bandanna and popping it in the freezer for a few minutes - then tie around your dog's neck for a quick cool down. Alternatively, toys like a Chilly Bone can also be frozen then munched on as a nice cool treat!
Of course aside from the dog days of Summer - when the weather is perfect it's time to go out and play! Monitor activity in the heat, and be aware of your dog's limitations. Breeds with thicker coats, like a Husky or Bernese Mountain Dog, may overheat more easily, as well as breeds with shorter snouts like Pugs may have trouble breathing on hot days.
Remember to hydrate along the way, many stores will put out water bowls for furry friends, but collapsible travel bowls or dog canteens are also an option for an active pet. For the local ocean-obsessed sea dogs, stay safe with a doggie life vest that fits comfortably and securely.
Before a walk, run, or stroll, test the temperature of the pavement. Hold your hand to the ground, and if it is cool enough that you can leave it there for more than a few seconds, then it should be safe for your pet. However, if it is too hot and you must rapidly pull your hand away, it is too hot for your dog's paws. While we wear sandals, sneakers, or socks, dogs only have their paw pads to protect them. Should you notice your dog's paws are dry, rough, or cracked, or if they have been over-exposed to hot asphalt, try a soothing paw cream, balm, or ointment.
Adventure awaits! Keep an eye on your pup, whether at a neighborhood party or simply on the go, new sensations, noises, or distractions can cause a dog to bolt. Take care to know your dog is wearing their tags, or microchipped should an accident happen. Stay watchful around the grill or campfire as well, it's always a possibility for Fido to pick up a burning stick, or a piece of food they shouldn't eat.
When traveling, be prepared with the essentials, such as food, water, and other safety items such as doggie sunscreen, or portable tents to provide shelter. Road trip adventurers may need to consider a seat belt and safety restraint harness for their companion, find out more in our Safe Transportation of Pets blog post.
Just like us, our dogs have awaited the season of good vibes and good times. Nothing beats a game of fetch or frisbee on the beach! By taking care to notice when your dog is tired, thirsty, or anxious over their surroundings, you learn to respond promptly and accordingly. Sometimes Summer fun for us, like fireworks or crowded events, may not be the best entertainment for your pet. Before making plans to bring Fido along, consider that they may prefer the comfort of their bed at home.
Whether your pet is happiest outside or enjoying A/C, we encourage everyone and their best buddy to safely enjoy this Summer season!
We sit on the couch, at our desks, in the kitchen, and on the bed; wherever our eyes may peacefully binge watch our favorite movies and TV without interruption. Accompanying our couch potato journey is the family dog, our trusty (albeit also lazy) sidekick. They may just snuggle and snooze, perhaps boof in their sleep, but sometimes you look over and find their ears alert, eyes staring in the direction of the screen, and...could it be? Is Fido hooked on that cliff-hanger or are you just imagining it?
In an alternate universe I'm sure a modern dog utopia exists - where canines stream videos on 'Barkflix', argue about the 'Old Yeller Cinematic Universe', and tune in to 'Live Viewer Treats'. But in our reality, the real reasoning behind your terrier's interest in the telly may simply be based on personality and breed characteristics.
Dogs are able to recognize visuals of other dogs, even among images of humans or other animals, according to a 2013 study published in Animal Cognition. They also process imagery faster than we do, meaning older television sets showing less frames per second would appear "to be flickering like a '1920's movie'", according to Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist from Tufts University. This is why HDTV channels like DogTV are designed for dogs, since the higher framerate and altered colors allows them to have a viewing experience similar to our own.
What exactly is the difference between small and large breed dogs? And no, we're not just talking about size! Believe it or not, we calculate many separate factors for a dog based on their breed, lifestyle, and nutritional differences. To start, there are actually four classes of doggie size ranges: small, medium, large, and giant.
What size breed will suit my lifestyle?
While temperament, training, grooming maintenance, and athletic ability differs across all shapes and sizes of dogs, there are certain times when you must take size into account. Do you live in a house with a yard, or an apartment or condo complex? Most larger breeds will not be able to adapt to small living spaces if not exercised properly. They need the extra wiggle room to keep them happy and healthy (both mentally and physically), but depending on your activity level, high-energy breeds can live the city life if exercised appropriately everyday. Life expectancy and medical conditions are also correlated differently depending on breed and size, for further insight please read PetMD's article, How Long Do Dogs Live?, and Cesar's Way article Dog size and life span: When bigger isn't better.
What are the nutritional differences for small and large breeds?
While we covered that there are more than just two size classes for dogs, you may have noticed that many dog food brands will label their products either 'small breed' or 'large breed'. What then? And what is the difference? First, smaller dogs have a higher metabolic rate than larger dogs, and they burn through calories much quicker. Small breed puppies should especially be fed a calorie-dense food to prevent hypoglycemia, lethargy, and even more serious health conditions. Large breed dogs can be similar to small breeds, but have different requirements. Large breeds puppies require diets with lower levels of calcium and phosphorus to reduce the rate of developmental diseases such as hip dysplasia. High levels of dietary antioxidants are also necessary for small breeds that live a long time, compared to large breeds who are more apt to suffer from arthritis in old age and require ingredients like glucosamine. Learn more on how to choose the best food for your pet with sites like DogFoodAdvisor, or watch the documentary Pet Fooled on Netflix.
How does size affect grooming?
While coat maintenance is based on breed and not necessarily size, the amount of dog being groomed will definitely affect the time spent in the grooming room! A Toy Poodle may need less time for a trim compared to a Standard Poodle, and both need different preparation, tools, and materials used to conduct a good grooming. Here at Buddies it is important that we schedule our appointments ahead of time so that we may adapt our schedule to different size dogs. This allows time for our groomers to prep the right tools and products for the breed. We make the most out of every minute spent with your buddy, no matter big or small!
Whether you are deciding to bring a new pet into your home, or searching for the best brand of food, recognize that research is the best way to empower your best buddy's health and happiness. Reach out to other pet parents, groomers, or veterinarians to discuss health and nutritional options. We encourage everyone to go beyond the basics, and respect the differences of every breed!
We say 'walking' but really we know it's actually 'skating' or 'slipping' or 'pretending you walked the dog in the snow when you sat by a fire with some hot chocolate instead.' But how long can you resist those pleading eyes? Dogs need their exercise, and a daily walk means a daily walk, snow or no snow. So here are some tactics to aid in the preparation of a good winter's walk:
As New Englanders we know snow, and we also know there are proper ways to make our winter experience at least a little more pleasant. For us pet parents, this might mean dedication spent waiting in the cold until Fido does their business, but it also means time spent frolicking in a winter wonderland.
And we can't deny that our pets provide excellent snowy entertainment!
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, which we know sounds just as exciting as you might think it sounds, but the truth is anytime is a good time to get rid of bad breath, and promote a healthy dog-slobber environment!
Dogs and cats use their mouths differently than us humans, they explore the world by sniffing, licking, and taste-testing earth's natural (and unnatural) wonders. What enters their mouth stays there in the form of bacteria, so always be aware of what your pet decides to deem edible. Dogs and cats both have natural bacteria contained in their mouths, usually species-specific, which is not transmissible to people, just like we cannot transfer our colds or sickness to them. However, it is a myth that dog's mouths are cleaner.
So what is the best way to ensure your pet has a healthy dental environment?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommend daily tooth brushing and annual dental cleanings. Chew toys designed to interact with teeth and gums, or natural chews like antlers, also assist in strengthening and cleaning.
What are the signs of a dental problem? Just like with people, tooth and mouth complications can be unpleasant for our furry friends, and bad breath especially can signal underlying health issues. For questioning bad odor, see our other post Why Does My Dog Stink? Also look out for excessive drooling, loss of teeth, or visual changes, such as spots or cysts on the tongue.
Why does my pet need a dental cleaning under anesthesia? Veterinary professionals can perform oral checkups during a regular exam, but dental cleaning procedures are done under anesthesia. This is often necessary in order for pets to stay still and tolerate dental work, as well as to prevent fear and pain. Certain breeds and older dogs are more likely to require tooth extractions, but always discuss with a medical professional the use and monitoring of anesthesia for pets. For more discussion on anesthesia, check out PetMD, Pet Health Network, and, Veterinary Practice News.
As a part of National Pet Dental Health Month we hope this information proves useful and helpful to the pets and pet parents we interact with everyday. Rest easy knowing your pet won't wake you in the morning with bad breath, invest in chews toys and simple daily tooth brushing to ensure their comfort, health, and happiness. We always appreciate bright, clean smiles from people and pets!
Does your dog need a massage? Or how about a chiropractor?
Admittedly this is probably not the question on everyone's mind coming into the new year, but as 2017 begins, we look forward to our #1 goal of promoting pet health. While a groomer's domain is the skin, pet parents are always welcome to bring up health concerns to groomers. It is important for us to know whether a pet has a serious health condition or has recently undergone surgery. Other conerns we hear often may include 'My pet is limping', 'My pet is constantly licking their paws/licking off their fur', 'My pet is older and cannot stand or sit comfortably', or 'My pet is sensitive in a specific area'. Our groomers will take everything into account and analyze sensitive areas if need be, but beyond fur and skin, we will recommend a visit to the vet if necessary.
Other benefits include:
Want to learn more about pet massage or how to massage your own dog? Try Cesar's Guide on Dog Massage, How to Massage Your Own Dog by Modern Dog Magazine, or learn more through the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy in Worcester, MA. And yes, massage is also great for cats!
Also check out the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Canine Journal, or The Conscious Cat to learn how pet chiropractic works.
We just had our annual Pet Pictures with Santa Paws here at Buddies (all proceeds donated to the Marshfield Animal Shelter), and at the end of the day one question soared above the rest: "How do you do it?"
First and foremost, know your pet. Where are they comfortable, or who are they most comfortable around? It's not wise to take your pet to an unfamiliar setting, especially if there are distractions or other pets galore. Be smart, if your dog is friendly towards you but not so much with other dogs, know the boundaries and enforce them. If your dog only wants to play with everyone and has endless energy, try going for a walk beforehand. Allow them to see and sniff the camera, as well as know the sounds or flashes it will make.
Take lots of pictures. Do not hesitate, or bother to wait. You may end up with many blurs and funny faces, but there is always a hidden gem to find. Afterwards, it is always fun to have a laugh about the overflow of completely silly pictures which lead up to the perfect moment.
Has your pet hit their mark, but failed to look into the camera? Try using a favorite toy, or grab an assistant to help. Movement is also great for capturing attention. Use your hands, such as holding a hand above your head and rubbing your fingers together. Sound works as well, and having a higher pitch like a squeaky toy, or audibly creating noises yourself, is a definite way to make heads turn.
Technique. Keep in mind what different lightning or backgrounds will make your pet shine best, or whether getting down on their level or a different angle may inspire something unique. Try not to get hung up on the logistics of it all, sometimes natural is best, but if something is not quite right, then mix it up a little. As for equipment, most smart phone cameras are professional quality nowadays, and there are plenty of photo-editing apps out there. We will list some free apps and websites that are great for post-photo operations at the end of this article.
Finally, have patience. We all know there is a reason why pets are so difficult to catch on camera - they are in constant motion. Stubborness is another trait that enjoys sharing itself once the camera comes out. If your pet is having a bad day, remember it is okay to take a break and try again later. Be patient, a good photo will come at the right time, but not if frustration or stress is in the way. Again, if it is not working, then try something different. A new toy, a different person, or setting. Maybe you yourself need to move closer, farther away, or to another angle. Working through struggles can make a picture so much greater. You know your pet best, and photos taken by your hand will surely capture their quirks and characteristics to the finest!
So you think you have what it takes to be a master pet chef? You're a connoisseur of all things tasty, you cook nonstop at home, you text your friends recipes at midnight while catching up on the latest episode of the Great British Baking Show. But what will it take to impress your pet?
More about bagged and canned pet food on our previous blog post here. Always be careful when considering a raw food diet for your pet, and be aware of the bacteria or possible illness which can occur from consuming raw foods. Consult your vet before any influential changes to your pet's diet. We've listed only the basics of pet nutrition, and we encourage chefs to expand their knowledge further through ongoing research and practice. By taking your time to make these healthy choices for your pet, they will judge you for the winner you are!
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