Ways to Celebrate Your Pets in June

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to look again at the calendar, which is filled with special days for honoring our animal companions. Some were created by organizations; others by individuals; and the rest have unknown origins. Some of them are serious; others are light-hearted. They all might give ideas about how to have fun with or honor your pets. To help you keep track of pet calendar dates, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors will post a round-up of them every couple of weeks.

June 4: National Hug Your Cat Day

Of unknown origin, and just behind us on the calendar, is National Hug Your Cat Day. Studies have shown that cuddling with cats can reduce stress and increase relaxation. While some will say that cats aren’t affectionate, many owners know that cats show love in their own way. They might rub their heads against us, knead their paws on us, snuggle with us, purr at us, or just hang out with us. Likewise, we show our cats love in various ways. We take time to teach them tricks or train them. We take them for walks on leashes or in strollers. We lay with them, stroke them, pick them up, and even hug them. However affection is shown, the point of National Hug Your Cat Day is to encourage the bond that exists between cats and their owners.

And if you don’t have a cat? You could try hugging your friend’s or neighbor’s cat. Just don’t blame me if the cat doesn’t take kindly to your attempts and scratches you. 😉 Cats have their own minds about who can touch them.

Although I found one events calendar that listed National Hug Your Dog Day as falling in April, most events calendar don’t set aside any particular day for hugging any pet except the cat. So you could just use the day to hug whatever pet(s) you have.

Finally, check out the following post which shows all the multiple ways a cat can be hugged. If you try any of them or discover new ways, post a comment!

June 12: National World Memorial Pet Day

lucytributeHeld each second Sunday in June, World Pet Memorial Day is a time to reflect with love on the pets from our past and to celebrate our bond with them. Pets bring us many benefits: they can improve our mood, relieve our stress, and provide comfort in time of need. For many of us, pets become our family, and their loss leaves a forever hole in our hearts.

I and other pet owners have given various types of tribute to pets that have passed. We have participated in candle-lighting memorials, posted their photos online, written narratives about them, created scrapbooks, and kept mementos from their lives. Some have taken extra steps such as: offering support to other pet owners struggling with loss, getting involved in animal welfare, or fostering and/or adopting a homeless pet. Even vets often give tribute; some of ours have been remembered through donations to research and tree plantings. However you choose to honor pets who have died, the point of World Memorial Day is to remember them. Fact Monster offers additional suggestions for honoring deceased pets such as: buy a special urn for a pet’s ashes, hold a service, add an inscription to your pet’s gravestone, or even sponsor a community park bench in your pet’s name.

As with many of these special pet days, World Pet Memorial Day is also a time to support efforts to build a better future for animals who without help will never know a human/pet bond. In honor of a beloved dog or cat who has died, pet owners might give the gift of their time to a local shelter or rescue, make a monetary donation to a “paws cause,” or contribute tangibles such as food, toys, blankets, and other much-needed supplies to a shelter or rescue organization. Whatever you decide to do, on June 12, take time to remember all the animals that have touched your life.

National Heat Awareness Day

According to the The National Weather Service, heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of human fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses. Heat also kills pets, especially those kept outdoors during the summer and those left locked inside hot cars. What can pet owners do to avoid their pets being included in this statistic?

Foremost, become aware of the signs of dehydration, how to treat it, and its dangers. Water is essential to our pets. They depend on it to maintain appropriate health. Pet Health Center says water makes up about 80 percent of a dog’s body and serves as the basis for all biological processes. Dehydration can occur when a pet’s fluid levels drop dramatically.

Prevention is always the best practice. You can help your pet stay hydrated by ensuring he always has access to clean and fresh water. In addition, you should wash your pet’s bowls each day to prevent bacteria from forming on them, and monitor her water consumption. If your pet is more prone to dehydration, you might use a weighted water bowl so it doesn’t tip and spill over. All pets, especially in the summer or if they’re recovering from an illness, should have access to more than normal. Don’t forget to bring water for your pet when traveling.

Should you suspect dehydration, gently pull the skin up at the back of her neck. Although it may vary for senior pets and for pets that are underweight or overweight, if the skin does not fall back to its normal position within a few seconds, your pet may be dehydrated. Moreover, the longer it takes for your pet’s skin to return to normal, the more serious your pet’s condition. Other signs that you should take your pet to the vet include:

  • Sunken, dull eyes
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urinating too much or too little
  • Shock (Advanced Stages)

Second, besides educating yourself about dehydration, avoid leaving your pet in the car during warm weather. The National Weather Service reports that countless numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia, “an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle”.

On a warm day, leaving a pet alone in a parked car can result in illness, irreparable damage to organs, and even death. The temperature inside a car can rise almost 20 degrees F in just 10 minutes and almost 30 degrees F in 20 minutes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in a car can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your car!

For that reason, I used to hear that one should leave their windows slightly open if a pet is left alone inside. American Veterinarian Medical Association cites a second study found that the temperatures in a dark sedan as well as a light gray minivan parked on a hot, but partly cloudy day, exceeded 125oF within 20 minutes. It also noted that cracking the windows had little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle.

If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt heard of situations on the news involving a dog that’s been left alone in a parked car. How should we deal with the latter? If you see a dog that seems to be suffering,  The Humane Society of the United States recommends: taking down the car’s make, model, and license-plate number; asking managers and/or security guards of nearby businesses to make an announcement to find the pet’s owner; call animal control or the local police and then wait for them to arrive. Just importantly, learn what local laws say about leaving pets in parked cars and spread the word about the dangers of heat and dehydration on pets. The Humane Society of the United States offers a free flyer that everyone can distribute about the subject: Hot Car Flyer

National Heat Awareness Day falls on May 24. Please share what you know to ensure that pets remain safe throughout the glory days of summer.

Animal Disaster Preparedness Day

Every second Saturday in May is dedicated to educating pet owners about disaster preparedness for pets. Emergencies can come in all forms, from an unexpected brief absence to a long-term mandatory evacuation. What follows are ten tips on how to be ready for any emergency.

  1. Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of an emergency. Pets can become confused, wander away, and end up lost during a crisis. The important thing is to find and secure your pet while you can.
  2. Make sure your pets have current identification A pet’s ID tag should contain his name and medical needs, along with owner contact info. Microchips are considered the most permanent form of identification and one of the best ways to ensure reunion if owners and pets are separated.
  3. Invest in a rescue alert sticker: This easy-to-use sticker will let others know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible by placing it on or near your front door and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home.
  4. Prepare traveling kits and emergency supplies. Pet supplies and first-aid kit should be stored as close as possible to an exit. Make sure that they’re easy to carry and that everyone in the family knows where these are. Some obvious things to include that could come in handy are: pet clothing in case of cold or wet weather, toys and treats to distract your pet, and even a Thunder Shirt for nervous pets.
  5. Plan for temporary confinement: Buildings such as houses and apartments can be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your pet safely confined, such as in a crate.
  6. Arrange for a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. If your home isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets either. However, not all rescue shelters accept pets, and so it’s important to determine ahead of time where you’ll bring your pets. Some possible options are: relatives and friends, boarding kennels, or hotels and motels that accept pets. You could also use the buddy system: Exchange pet information, evacuation plans, and house keys with a trusted neighbor or nearby friend. Then if you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, someone else can evacuate your pets for you.
  7. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area: If a disaster impacts the community, local emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Make sure you know the location of other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan.
  8. Practice makes perfect: Practice packing emergency supplies and driving to and locating emergency shelters near you. This will help you stay calmer in the event of an actual disaster, when tensions run high.
  9. Comfort your pets: Disasters can be stressful not just to owners but also to pets. Use a calm presence and soft voice if they’re anxious following a disaster or during an evacuation. If neither comforts your pets, they might prefer toys or blankets or a Thunder Shirt.
  10.  Know where to search for lost pets: When pets become lost during a disaster, they typically end up at a local shelter. You should have the addresses and phone numbers of local shelters in multiple places that are easy to access. Also, even if you aren’t ready to care for your pet, don’t delay searching for your pet. They could get adopted out or even put down.

For more detailed information on pet-disaster preparedness, check out LAA Pet Talk’s two articles on the topic published last year.

For detailed information on helping pets other than dogs and cats during a disaster, check out the two below sites:

National Specially-abled Pets Day

Specially-AbledPetsDay

Celebrated annually on May 3rd, National Specially-abled Pets Day is a time for pet owners and animal lovers to celebrate to celebrate three-legged dogs, blind cats, and paralyzed guinea pigs. Because it can be difficult for shelters to find homes for pets with special needs, the day is also designed to encourage adoption of disabled animals. Says the founder of this national and internationally-recognized day, Colleen Paige, “These pets are very able! Pets that become challenged due to disease, birth flaws, or injuries, tend to develop greater senses than your average pet. Most of the time it’s as if they never had to readjust to life…and we need to keep up with them!”

These events help bring the community together to support animals with disabilities, connect disabled pets with their future owners, and help generate awareness for people who may not understand the special circumstances or needs of these animals.–PetCentric

Groups interested in observing this day might hold events such as: parade, activities, food, and informational booths. Individuals can also observe this day in various ways.

  • One way is through direct involvement. Volunteer your time at a shelter or even become a foster or adoptive pet parent of a pet with a disability.
  • A second way is financial. You can donate to animal groups that offer programs in support of pets with special needs. Your donation will help cover the cost of needed surgeries, equipment, and medicines.
  • A final way is through education. Online sites, such as Pets with Disabilities and Specially Abled Pets, are good places to start.

All of these are intended to create an atmosphere of acceptance and support for pets with special needs.

I really hope what people take away from these stories is information to make decisions for their own pets, an appreciation for the resilience of all animals, and ultimately a sense of normalcy from the photos and stories. Technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, and our relationship and compassion toward animals continues to evolve.–

Carli Davidson, Mother Nature Network

One photographer has combined her creative skills and her love of animals to create a “Pets with Disabilities” photo series. Award-winning photographer Carli Davidson and experienced animal trainer Davidson has done regular photo shoots for zoos and spent years volunteering at shelters. She donates 10 percent of her proceeds to a monthly rotation of animal shelters that rescue disabled pets.

I love photography, but it has never trumped my desire to work with animals. I started taking pictures of the animals I was working with 12 years ago and shortly thereafter refocused my photography career toward them.–

Carli Davidson, Mother Nature Network

Davidson began her “Pets With Disabilities” series two years ago, after seeing a wheelchair-bound German shepherd playing fetch with its owner on an Oregon beach. Mother Nature Network quotes Davidson: “I thought a lot about this pair in the following weeks and decided I wanted to create a project showcasing these pets and telling their stories in order to show the world that they are happy, thriving companions. They are not sad, they are not in pain, and the owners and animals continue to be a great value to one another.”

You can view a select number of her photos at MNN Galleries. One of my favorites among Davidson’s photos is of a poodle named Ramen Noodle (what a great name!), who lost both of his front legs in separate accidents before he was 2 years old. He was up and running around on his hind legs just three weeks after losing his second leg. His caption says, “Ramen Noodle has a wheelchair to get around outdoors, but he prefers to walk on his own.” I also really liked Davidson’s photo of a Chihuahua named Diego, who lost his eyesight when he was attacked by a coyote at the age of 5. His caption says, “Diego’s owners introduced him to Buddy Nixon, a pug they’d rescued from a shelter, and today Diego uses Buddy as a seeing-eye dog by following the tapping of his nails.” Davidson believes her subjects have a lot to teach people.

Are you an owner of a specially-abled pet or volunteer to help one? LAA Pet Talk is always looking for inspirational stories to share. Yours could be one of them!

A Day to Thank Your Vet

On a recent pet loss forum, a cat owner chatted with members at length about how to express gratitude to her local vet. The vet had offered her advice on the best foods and medications for her cat, then had seen her cat through syringe feedings and subcutaneous IV fluids, all in an attempt to forestall her cat’s death from Chronic Kidney Disease. Many of us had all encountered the same dedication from our vet and so had various suggestions. She finally settled on a card, photos, and flowers.

wvdIf you’ve never thanked your vet, consider doing so on World Veterinary Day. In 2000, the World Veterinary Association initiated this annual celebration on the last Saturday of April to bring attention to the ways our animal doctors help make the world a better place.

We all know that vets care for our common household pets like dogs, cats, and birds, and exotic pets like chinchillas, sugar gliders, and z. And don’t forget that they also care for our livestock. But vets also serve in lots of other ways too; of which just a few are listed below.

EDUCATION

  • Education pet owners about animal bites.
  • Identify at-risk pets.
  • Provide information on the benefits of exercise to pets.
  • Teach responsible use of medicine for animals.

ANIMAL WELFARE

  • Detect and diagnose animal disease conditions.
  • Develop policies and promoting laws to improve the care and welfare of animals around the world.
  • Conduct research to develop vaccines and cures for diseases in animals.
  • Involved with food safety, food security, and safe world trade in animal products.

PUBLIC HEALTH

  • Investigate outbreaks of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that spread from animals to humans, such as rabies, bird flu and Ebola.
  • Collaborate with the medical community. Because animals and people are often affected by the same diseases, veterinarian research often benefits people directly.

Veterinarians care about the health and well-being of animals, people, and the environment we share together because animals affect human health.–World Veterinary Association

In 2008, the World Veterinary Association together with the World Organization for Animal Health, also created a World Veterinary Day Award to honor the most successful contribution of a veterinarian to society on a particular theme. This year, the theme was Continuing Education with One Health. The theme recognizes that veterinarians play a crucial role in protecting not just local but also global health. “In all areas of the profession, they have opportunities and responsibilities to improve the health and welfare of animals, and therefore, to improve the health of humans.”

Because of their contribution to global health, as well as to the well-being of our beloved pets, let’s honor our veterinarians this April 28. My husband and I could certainly name many animal doctors who have made a different in the lives of our pets. And I’m sure you could too. Share your stories here and send a thank card to your vet. Let’s celebrate World Veterinary Day together!

Ways to Celebrate Your Pets in April, Part 2

April is filled with holidays honoring our animal companions. There are so many that I’m writing write multiple articles to cover all of them. The two dates in this article are dedicated to one of my favorite pets: cats!

April 24: National Hairball Day

Like many pet holidays, National Hairball Day isn’t about a celebration but about bringing awareness to an issue. We can all do our cats a favor by educating ourselves on how to prevent hairballs and also how to recognize when hairballs are a sign of a more serious health issue.

Cats spend so much time grooming themselves, it’s no surprise they get hairballs. T he little barbs on their tongues strip away undercoat hairs. Most of that hair passes naturally through the digestive tract and is expelled into the litter box. If hair gets caught in the stomach, however, it’ll form a clump that will keep getting bigger and bigger in size. The longer this wad of hair is stuck in the stomach, soaking up bile, the more likely it’ll trigger regurgitation. Then owners are left with a mess of vomit to clean up.

The amount of hair a typical cat swallows while grooming varies. Long-haired cats are most prone to developing hairballs, especially in the warm months when more shedding happens. But short-haired cats aren’t immune. Also, cats with certain skin conditions or allergies might feel the need to groom themselves more often, and may ingest more of their own hair. Older cats are also more likely to develop hairballs.

Most cats get hairballs. For that reason, one might think hairballs are no big deal beyond their grossness. Unfortunately, sometimes that hair being collected in the stomach or the small intestine can stay there and cause a potentially life-threatening blockage in the digestive system. In this case, surgery might be required to remove the hairball. In addition, according to Cat Time, cats who frequently regurgitate their hairballs may have an underlying medical condition such as inflammatory bowel disease or even cancer. Finally, sometimes the hacking sound that cat owners typically associate with regurgitation is a symptom of something else. One cat owner writes in Catser of bringing her cat to the veterinarian and discovering the cat had asthma that was serious enough to require medication. For all of the above reasons, if a cat retches without producing a hairball or if a cat seems particularly susceptible to hairballs, call your vet.

I tell cat owners that more than one or two hairballs a year is not normal. Frequently, when a cat vomits there is hair mixed in, so owners often assume that it was just a hairball—something they think is a normal occurrence. In fact, there may be something else going on with the cat medically.

Dr. Brunt, feline veterinarian

Assuming there isn’t another ailment behind hairballs, how can we as caring owners help prevent this build-up of hair in the stomach of our cats? We can brush our cats regularly, so that they swallow less hair during grooming. Dietary options include buying treats that contain natural vegetable fibers to help control hairballs, switching to a food formulated for this purpose, and making sure there’s plenty of water as hydration will keep the digestive tract in optimal shape. A hairball lubricant might be an option too. Because boredom can cause cats to groom more frequently, indoor enrichment (including extra playtime) can also help. Finally, a little stress prevention might also be in order if your cat has been recently exposed to changes in routine.

National Hairball Day is listed as one of the Pet Health Awareness Events of the American Veterinary Medical Association. However we decide to honor this day, we would all do well to ensure that our feline companions have all the remedies that they might need to cope with the hairballs that will inevitably affect them.

April 27: Free Feral Cat Spay Day

President of Alley Cat Rescue, Louise Holton, believes that cat rescue organizations cannot tackle the problem of 40 million homeless cats alone; they need the support of the veterinary community. Begun in 2010 by Alley Cat Rescue, Free Feral Cat Spay Day was designed to build and strengthen relationships between the public and the veterinary community. On the launch of Free Feral Cat Spay Day, Holton asked veterinarians to participate by offering at least two free spays or neuters to homeless and/or feral cats. 150 vets participated in the event.

Annually, Free Feral Cat Spay Day encourages community vets across the country to provide free spay/neuter surgery to homeless cats. According to Pet Health Central, since the introduction of this special day, more than 800 veterinarians from the United States, Canada, and South Africa have sterilized more than 9,000 cats.  In addition to this one-day promotion, many communities are trying to publicize this issue year round.

For readers who follow LAA Talk, you might have read our January series about Trap-Neuter-Release being the best way to help our country’s epidemic proportions of homeless cats. TNR can help manage feral populations, as well as reduced euthanasia rates at shelters and also properly manage feral cat colonies.

TNR isn’t just spay/neuter. It’s also about the provision of food, water, and shelter to these community cats. Because they don’t have owners, they rely on caretakers to survive and to have healthy lives. However, the first step is to get feral cats spayed and neutered so that their populations will diminish over time. Help honor Free Feral Spay Cat by promoting awareness of TNR.

Ways to Celebrate Your Pets in April, Part 1

April is filled with holidays honoring our animal companions. There are enough that I’m going to write multiple posts to cover all of them. The three dates in this post are dedicated to pet owners, pets themselves, and young people.

April 11: National Pet Day

NationalPetDayFrom the founder of Puppy Day comes National Pet Day. Started in 2005 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert, Colleen Paige, April 11 celebrates the joy that pets bring to our lives. Below are some of the many ways to honor our pets on their special day:

  • Have a National Pet Day party and celebrate all your pets!
  • Take your dog to a Yappy Hour. Many pet bakeries celebrate dogs and their people with a regular Yappy Hour. It’s a social time that usually includes treats of some kind. To find a participating pet bakery near you, Google “Yappy Your + your town” or call a local store to inquire if they’re hosting one.
  • Give your cat the gift of catnip. A member of the mint family, catnip is an herb that acts as an aphrodisiac for some cats. Most cats will roll it in and even run wild through the house. Scientists think it triggers “happy” hormones.
  • Spend the day taking photos of your pets and then post them to a Facebook album.
  • Take a day-trip to a favorite hiking trail, park or beach.
  • Have a picnic with your pet in your back yard, with scrumptious goodies for the both of you.
  • Carry your pet down the aisle of your local pet supply store and invite your pet to choose a new treat or toy.
  • Play games. Play fetch with your dog. Hide treats around the house for your cat to find.
  • Teach your pet a new trick. If your dog or cat has learned the basics of obedience, move on to tricks such as roll over, jump, or even to dance or walk on tiptoes. The harder the trick, the more practice it will take, but also the greater the quality time you can have with your pet.
  • Instead of a quick pat on the head, give your pet a long massage with slow steady movements. The act of petting will release oxytocin (the “love hormone”) in both of you. If your pet suffers from arthritis, massage can help loosen her joints so she can move with less pain.
  • Assist an ill, elderly, or a financially struggling neighbor or friend by purchasing pet food or other pet supplies.

MORE IDEAS

Ways to Celebrate National Pet Day

5 Ways to Celebrate National Pet Day

10 Ways to Celebrate National Pet Day

Like several of the earlier holidays we’ve covered here at LAA Pet Talk, National Pet Day is also intended to “create public awareness about the plight of many different kinds of animals awaiting a forever home in shelters and rescues all around the globe”. The holiday isn’t just limited to dogs and cats, but also intended to include small animals, birds and reptiles, and farm animals. They all need our love!

April 18: Pet Owner’s Independence Day

From pets to owners, on April 18, roles are reversed! The idea is to switch roles with your pet, with your pet taking over all the household chores and even filling in for you at work, while you lie around the house and otherwise indulge yourself.

Granted, as I’ve written before, some pet holidays are silly. What pet is going to groom us, prepare us meals, or take us for strolls? And, as much as we’d love to stay home to take eight-hour naps, what pet is going drive to our work place, serve clients, or type notes on the computer in our place?

On a similar note, as Days of the Year points out, do owners really want to take on the role of their pets? Since when is gnawing bones or keeping scratching posts trim our idea of a good time? Do we wish to be subjected to obedience classes or catching mice for our keep?

It’s a wacky holiday. If you fantasize enough, you might even hit upon some fun ones such as Examiner’s idea of putting Polly the Parakeet in charge of social media for the day. Or you might simply decide that the bottom line is to celebrate yourself as a pet owner and treat yourself to a special day of whatever you choose.

April 26: National Kids and Pets Day

Skipping ahead the end of the month, April 26th is National Kids & Pets Day. Like National Pet Day, it too was created by Colleen Paige in 2005. The day is dedicated to educating the public about safety between children and pets.

For example, the National Kids & Pets Day website encourages parents to never leave small children alone with pets that have the potential to cause them harm. According to the site, thousands of children each year are either injured or killed by family pets. Sadly, these traumatic events often could have been avoided.

On a more positive note, the day is also “dedicated to furthering the magical bond between children and animals.” By caring for pets, young people learn how to be responsible. In addition, Parents.Com says that having pets can help young people to learn and to be active. The comfort of pets can also help with the social development of young people. Finally, pets often encourage confidence in children with emotional needs and/or learning disabilities.

Children that grow up with pets tend to be extremely nurturing and compassionate, making dedicated and loving parents and pet owners themselves. This, in turn, simply makes for a happier world.

–Bill Strickland, Parent Magazine

Every Tag is Tag Day

Losing a pet is a nightmare for any pet owner, but pets with ID tags and microchips are much more likely to find their way home to their loving family.

–Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Society

I’ve done it again. I missed another pet holiday. The good news is that it just happened on April 2, which is such a short time ago that we can still observe it without feeling guilty. Also, the holiday happens to be called Every Day is Tag Day, which means today is Tag Day too. 😉

The American Humane Society is credited with the introduction of this holiday. Why? Because even though you may think your pet would never run away or otherwise get lost, the sad fact is that it can happen to any pet. And the best way to avoid the heartache of permanently losing a pet is to tag and/or microchip them.

Lucy_TagsAccording to a study reported on by Adopt a Pet, in the over 1000 households randomly surveyed, 14% of dogs and 15% of cats were lost at least once in the past five years. Of those lost pets, 7% percent of dogs and 25% of cats were never found. That’s 153,000 dogs and 645,000 cats that are lost each year and are not recovered by their original owners.

Adopt a Pet also shared what the data showed about how missing dogs and cats were found. Some of those ways, especially for dogs, included searching the neighborhood and checking with a shelter. For cats, another way included simply waiting for them to return home. However, ID tags or microchips were also responsible for 15% of dogs getting home. As for cats, only one owner of the 1000 surveyed reported finding their cat through its tag or microchip, but Adopt a Pet points out that, “Two thirds of the lost cats who were not found did not have any identification … If as many cats were wearing ID or chipped as dogs, perhaps 15% would also be reunited with their owners.”

If you have a pet other than a dog or cat, don’t get the idea that none of this applies to you. Bigger animals such as horses and smaller animals such as rabbits and even guinea pigs can all be microchipped. In addition, birds can be microchipped, but the smaller their size the more caution that’s needed. Finally, while I couldn’t find any data on the numbers of pets lost other than dogs and cats, a wide variety of companion animals have at one time or another been reported lost through Lost Pets of Lancaster County. Thus, I encourage all pet owners, regardless of the species of their pet, to talk with their veterinarian about their options for tagging or microchipping their pet.

The American Humane Association offers these tips to “make every day tag day”:

  • Make sure your pet wears a collar with a current ID tag, rabies tag, and city/county license. Include a contact name, address, and daytime and evening phone numbers.
  • Keep your pet’s licenses, ID tag, and microchip current. Make sure to update all of the above if you change your address or phone numbers.
  • When moving or traveling, place a temporary tag on your pet with the phone number of someone who knows how to reach you.
  • Remember that even indoor pets need tags. Many strays in shelters are indoor pets who escaped and got lost. In addition, a higher percentage of cats stay missing because people tend to assume that a cat seen outside is an outdoor cat. Something to consider is that if a cat was found with a tag that displayed a distant address, there would be a greater chance that it would be considered lost.
  • Most pets who have been adopted in recent years have been microchipped by the shelters.

According to The American Humane Association, microchipping “provides an additional layer of assurance in the event that the pet’s collar and tag fall off or are removed.” Microchipping involves embedding under the animal’s skin a tiny electronic capsule that emits a unique code that can be scanned and looked up in a database to find its owner. There are many databases where you can register your pet’s microchip ID to increase your chances of reuniting with your lost pet. Moreover, most shelters check for microchips when an animal is brought to them.

Every Day Is Tag Day is officially celebrated on the first Saturday of April. The holiday recognizes that there’s more to responsible pet care than just providing food, water, and shelter. There’s even more than obtaining medical treatments and offering enrichment. Pet care also includes tagging and microchipping your pet.

Losing a pet is a nightmare for any pet owner, but pets with ID tags and microchips are much more likely to find their way home to their loving family.

–Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Society

Ways to Celebrate Your Pets in March

March is flying by! Time to look again at the calendar, which is filled with holidays honoring our animal companions. Some of the holidays are serious; others are silly. Whatever their objective, they still might give you some ideas about how to have fun with or honor your pets. To help you keep track of those very special dates, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors will post a round-up of them every few weeks.

March 13: K9 Vets Day

One event has already happened and I’m sorry to have missed it. The idea of a K9 Veterans Day originated with a retired military working dog trainer named Joseph Wright who wanted recognition for dogs who serve in military, law enforcement, and other capacities. Why March 13? Because this is the official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps.

During World War I, the United States began to take notice of the European employment of canines to carry messages, provide comfort to soldiers, etc. Well over a million dogs were used. History.Com writes that on March 13 in 1942, the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army began training its own dogs for a War Dog Program, which became known as “K-9 Corps.” Upon encouragement from The American Kennel Association and a group called Dogs for Defense, owners donated healthy and capable dogs for service. The QMC then was given the task of training dogs for the U.S. Navy, the Marines, and even the Coast Guard. After basic obedience training, qualified dogs were sent through one of four specialized programs to prepare them to work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs, and mine-detection dogs.

Most pet-related holidays are unofficial. The same is true of K9 Vets Day, but there is a movement to designate the day as an official holiday.  Sarah Sprouse, AKC Government Relations Legislative Analyst, reports that state legislators across the country are stepping up to recognize our canine heroes. Sprouse offers these statistics from a senate resolution in Kentucky: “By the end of World War II, over 10,000 dogs were trained to search for land mines, tunnels, traps, trip wires, and other hazards undetectable to the two-footed soldier … Over 30,000 dogs have served in the military since March 13, 1942, with over 1,500 and 4,000 dogs deployed during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts … As of 2012, approximately 2,800 active duty dogs have been deployed around the world, including over 600 in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The American Kennel Club encourages other states to join in the effort to recognize the contributions of our canine heroes, stating “If your federation or club is interested in initiating a similar measure in your state legislature please contact the American Kennel Club’s Government Relations department at 919-816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org”.

March 23: National Puppy Day & Cuddly Kitten Day

Another day with a lot of press, including international recognition through tweets and its own website, is National Puppy Day. On this special day, founded in 2006 by Colleen Paige, owners are encouraged to “celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives.” Just for fun, International Business Times has listed twelve interesting facts about puppies that you might want to check out.

PuppyMillsThe day is intended to inspire everyone to help “save orphaned puppies across the globe” and to educate the public “about the horrors of puppy mills”. According to The Humane Society of the United States, there are more than 10,000 puppy mills in America that supply our nation’s pet stores, with fewer than 3,000 regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The dogs are kept in terrible conditions and are often killed when they can no longer breed. The official motto of National Puppy Day is, “Adopt instead of shop!” If you want to find out more, read What to Do About Puppy Mills. This post contains my interview with a representative of Hearts United for Animals, a no-kill shelter dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of puppy mill dogs. The organization has rescued over 5,000 dogs from puppy mills since its start in 1996.

AdoptNotShopThe origins of Cuddly Kitten Day are unknown, but why argue with an excuse to pamper your furry feline? 😉 Kittens too are being orphaned across the globe and kitten mills do exist too. One Green Planet provides the alarming statistic that 90% of all kittens bought in pet stores come from kitten mills. It goes on to note that, “kittens that aren’t fortunate enough to be purchased by pet stores or into family homes are sold to laboratories or other testing facilities.” Dogs aren’t the only victims, as illustrated by cases detailed by Petful, and we need to fight for better care for all of our companion animals.

March 31: Respect Your Cat Day

Rounding out the pet holidays in March is Respect Your Cat Day. Its origins are unknown, although Legacy 9News from Colorado points out that March 28 is an historic day for our feline friends because allegedly, on March 28, 1384, Richard II of England forbid the consumption of cats. While I couldn’t find anything to substantiate the claim, I did find records suggesting that cats used to be eaten in various European countries during hard times. Regardless of whether the date has any relevant historical significance, Respect Your Cat Day is a great way for cat owners to end the month. Global Animal lists some fun facts about cats, while Animal Fair offers these ideas for brightening up the day of feline friends:

  • Take time to nap with your cat
  • Treat your cat to something yummy
  • Cuddle with your cat
  • Play together with toys
  • Give your cat a little feline spa treatment or massage
  • And best of all… Spread about some catnip!

 

Ways to Celebrate Your Pet in February

With February slipping away, it’s time to look again at the calendar, which is filled with holidays honoring our animal companions. Some of the holidays are serious; others are silly. Whatever their objective, they still might give you some ideas about how to have fun with or honor your pets. To help you keep track of those very special dates, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors will post a round-up of them every few weeks.

First, let’s take a look back at a couple that happened earlier in February. You might belatedly celebrate them or simply write the date in your calendar for next year.

February 14: Pet Theft Awareness

It is estimated that about two million pets are stolen each year, and only 10% are returned to their owners. Launched in 1988 by the Last Chance for Animals organization, Pet Theft Awareness Day is aimed at educating animal owners about how to keep their pets safe from thieves.

Pet Theft Banner, http://www.stolenpets.com/day.htm
Pet Theft Banner, http://www.stolenpets.com/day.htm

According to Pet Safe, the top two reasons pets are stolen are for money and for illegal dog fights. In the case of monetary gain, pets are sometimes stolen with the intent of returning it to the owner for a reward. Other times, someone may steal a pet to sell it to a third party (for example, to entities using animals for research). As for illegal animal fights, dogs will either be trained as fighters or used as bait.

The most important thing you can do on this holiday is learn how to keep your pet safe. Pet Safe offers the following advice:

  • Never let your dog wander freely.
  • Secure your yard with some type of fencing.
  • Never leave your pet unattended.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing identification tags.
  • Get your pet microchipped.
  • Keep updated pictures of your pet from different angles. This may help prove that your pet is in fact yours if he’s stolen.
  • Some pet insurance plans offer assistance if your pet is lost or stolen and can help you with the cost associated with recovering your pet.

If you want to get further involved, you can also help Last Chance for Animals in the fight against animal cruelty. About a decade ago, LCA undertook a groundbreaking undercover investigation into the world of pet theft. The latter was a topic of the 2006 HBO documentary Dealing Dogs. This documentary drew attention to a bill called The Pet Safety and Protection Act, which got started in honor of a dog named Buck who was one of the many animals rescued during a raid of animal dealers. After his rescue, Buck was in such bad shape that he stayed at the vet clinic for seven months. When he was well enough, he went to a foster home where he lived until he died a few months later from internal hemorrhaging. According to LCA, the bill “serves to honor Buck and all the animals that die due to inadequate care and abuse” at the hands of dealers.

February 20: Love Your Pet Day

LucyLoveThere’s a National Parents Day, National Grandparents Day, and even a National Children’s Day. Why shouldn’t there also be the equivalent of a National Pets Day? After all, most households in the United States have at least one pet, and we’re often closer to our pets than to most people.

I couldn’t find anything on the origins of this holiday. Mostly, I found lots of ideas for gifts and ways to pamper our pets. To celebrate this day, you might read LAA’s article on Pet Heroics or on Pet Gifts (aka Smiles for December). And if you have a story about how a pet changed your life, I’d love to hear from you and to share your story right here at LAA Pet Talk!

Next, let’s look ahead at a couple upcoming pet holidays. You might start planning now how to celebrate them or simply write the date in your calendar as a reminder to observe it.

February 22: Walk Your Dog Day
No one knows who started the holiday, but it makes sense for the health benefits for both pet owners and dogs. Here’s a list of benefits compiled from different web sites:

  • A daily walking routine keeps both you and your dog healthy. According to Cute Calendar, a study by Michigan State University shows that people who walk their dogs are 34% more likely to meet expected levels of exercise, with a recommended level of 150 minutes of activity such as dog walking per week. In addition, walking provides mental and physical stimulation for your dog. As such, it’ll help burn off some of your dog’s built-up energy, which will in turn help prevent separation anxiety and destructive behavior.
  • AllisonGizmo_WalkWalks are a great way to bond with your dog. I Heart Dogs aptly points out that such an activity helps solidify the bond you have by allowing you to experience new environments together. As an added perk, dogs that are walked in new places meet new people and experience new things, which makes them a better socialized and good canine citizens.
  • A daily walk lets you and your dog get the social interaction you both need. There’s an old adage that if a guy wants to catch the attention of a girl, he just needs a baby in a stroller. My experience is that dogs will also attract attention, whether from a neighbor you’d like to get to know better or just random strangers. Going for walks will also help your dog learn how to interact with other animals and people in your neighborhood.
  • Walking your dog is an excellent training activity. Pet Care RX points out that by using proper methods you can stay in control during the walk, and this will establish you as the alpha dog in the relationship. I personally enjoy the opportunity to practice commands I’ve learned in obedience classes.
  • Giving back is as simple as taking a walk. According to I Heart Dogs, there’s a Walk for a Dog app that allows you to raise money for shelter pets simply by taking a stroll.

February 23: Appreciate Dog Biscuit Day

BarnabyBiscuitYou might notice that many pet holidays seem to have unknown origins. Appreciate Dog Biscuit Day is no exception. What is known, however, is how the first dog biscuits came about. In the mid-19th century, American manufacturer James Spratt observed stray dogs scrounging for food when he visited England. Inspired, Spratt began producing dog biscuits using a secret recipe including both meat and vegetables.

Today, some dog biscuits can help keep our dogs’ teeth clean, and others can be used as training rewards. As to what the best ones are, When it comes to picking the best treats, guess what? You should start with the ingredients list! According to Dog Journal, there are ingredients to avoid:

  • Artificial preservatives
  • Artificial colors
  • Chemical humectants (which keep treats soft and chewy)

Another item to look for on the label is the expiration date. Just like human food, dog treats can go bad. If a package has been around for a long time, smell the treats occasionally to ensure they haven’t gone rancid.

If you’ve enjoyed this holiday wrap-up, stay tuned in future months for more pet-related dates. Some articles have given me ideas for future articles, so be watching for them as well. I’d like to do one about how to protect your pet from crime, and another about the best treats for your pet. Keep checking back for more educational articles, right here at Pet Talk!