6 Simple Ways To Exercise With Your Dog (& Benefits)

This week Guest Blogger Sarah Zyan from TheDiamondPup.com has written a post for us about getting fit with your fur baby in time for summer!

SO…

You finally decided: you’re going to start exercising with your dog! Hooray for the good decision! Whether you are the proud parent of a Poodle or a Boxador, you know a good daily workout session is necessary for your best friend’s health (and yours as well). No dog (or human, for that matter) wants to be overweight, or obese. Obesity leads to heart disease in dogs as well as other dangerous conditions such as cancer, arthritis, or even diabetes. So, to keep yourself and your dog healthy, follow these simple steps.

Believe us, you’ll thank us later!

Hike with your dog

Hikes are fun! Really! A good thing to do during a weekend morning is to go hiking with your best friend. Not only does it build good stamina, it also reinforces your dog’s relationship with nature (and yours as well). There is nothing better than some fresh air on a Sunday morning, with beautiful landscapes, and your four-pawed friend!

Go for a jog

If you’re not used to running, start with a 30-minute walk, then go from there. After a few tries, you will be able to jog with your dog for 10 minutes straight without breaking a sweat (or losing a lung, like some of us often do).

Dogs also build habits easily, which means once they get used to your routine morning jog, there will be no way for you to get away from it, which works as a great motivator. But, be careful when it’s too hot or humid outside. Since dogs do not sweat like us humans, you’ll have to go jogging during the perfect moment of the day, which is either early morning or late evening, when the weather is coolest.

Bike with your dog

If you’re not into jogging or hiking, and would rather ride a bicycle, then don’t worry, that is also a great exercise for dogs and humans alike. If you have a dog that has waaay too much energy, biking is actually the perfect solution, since he’ll try to keep up with your pedaling and will be happy about it.

This exercise will not only help you build crazy leg muscles, it will also change your dog’s behavior. If your dog is aggressive or twitchy, then he probably needs more workout, since aerobic exercise stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain, which relaxes dogs.

Go swimming

It is a known fact that dogs absolutely love water. So, why not take advantage of that? Take your dog to the beach or a pet-friendly swimming pool and swim together. Swimming is especially good for dogs (and humans) with joint problems, since it’s a low pact aerobic exercise. It also uses all the muscles of the body, which makes it perfect for both of you.

Play catch with your dog

And don’t just stand there when your dog goes to catch the ball. Instead, race him to it, this way, you’ll both be exercising. Dogs can also play soccer (yes, you’ve read it right, soccer), so don’t hesitate to purchase a soccer ball made especially for dogs (which is resistant to sharp teeth) and have some dribbles with your best friend!

Go to a dog park

Well, that’s mostly for your dog’s health. Dogs are friendly, social creatures, and they love nothing more than to play with others of their species. So, don’t deny your dog that pleasure, and take him to the dog park. There, he’ll get to make new canine friends and play with them, which is, naturally, exercise. It’s also good for your dog’s social skills, so there’s that!

Finally

You have to remember that exercise is not the only way to keep your dog healthy. Cutting back on treats is one way you can do that too or moving to healthier treats (such as some fruits and vegetables, yes yes, dogs can eat those too). You can also choose to change your dog’s diet by changing his food brand to something healthier and less caloric, such as Whole Earth Farms.

And, don’t forget, a happy dog is a dog who receives love, attention, and care from his owner. Your dog considers you his best friend, and will always be loyal to you, no matter what. His love in unconditional, and so should yours be.

 

Are You Sure That’s A Stray? A Handy Guide For Not Accidentally Scooping Up And Surrendering Someone’s Indoor/Outdoor Cat

A sure sign of spring here at the Animal Protection Center is the uptick in people bringing us stray cats and kittens that have been hanging around their yard, street, or neighborhood. These animals have been hunkering down all winter so when they start to emerge with the warm weather and make babies, good citizens from all over Southeastern Massachusetts bring them to us for socialization, care, and adoption into loving homes. 90% of the time this is an awesome thing and we are profoundly grateful for people who care enough about those animals to get them to safety here in the shelter. Sometimes though a sad thing happens: a good Samaritan brings us an animal and we say hmmmmm, we don’t think that’s a stray. We think that might be someone’s indoor/outdoor cat.

First of all let me be clear: here at the APCSM we are big advocates of keeping your pet cats inside. Indoor cats are protected from disease, encounters with coyotes, eating poisonous plants or other found items, and all sorts of other troubles. Indoor cats live longer, safer lives overall than their indoor/outdoor counterparts. That being said we’re not naive, we know that there are a lot of people who let their cats out to roam. We’re not going to judge those people here but we will encourage them to let their neighbors know that they do this so that those neighbors don’t bring their cat to the shelter thinking it’s a friendly stray or abandoned pet.

If you do have a cat visiting your yard or neighborhood though and you think you should bring it to the shelter please do this first:

1. Ask around to see if anyone recognizes the cat or knows where it lives. Take a photo of the cat and share it on your Facebook/Twitter feed to see if anyone comments, “Hey! That’s Fluffy, my indoor/outdoor cat!  If this cat is super friendly try putting a break-away collar on her with a note saying, “Do I belong to someone?” This has worked several times and we can even provide you with a collar if you stop by.

2. Look the cat over. Is it dirty? Injured? Coughing? Does it appear to have fleas or mites that would indicate it’s been living rough?  Does it seem wary or scared around people? If any of these are present please do not attempt to catch the cat yourself! Call your local animal control. They will catch the cat safely.  We work closely with several animal control offices so there’s a good chance it will end up here anyway.  However, a cat that lives somewhere will often have a clean, glossy coat, be very friendly, or have clipped claws.

3. Does it visit at a specific time every day?  Some people let their cats out when they go to work in the morning and then back in in the evening.  Some people let their cats out every afternoon when they get home.  If the cat is visiting you at a specific time every day it might be on a schedule because it lives somewhere.  Also, just because it’s begging for food doesn’t mean it’s hungry, she may just be playing you for extra food.  Cats are like that.  Note: we know she’s cute but if you feed her the cat will just keep coming back.

4. Is it pregnant? If an owned cat turns up pregnant the owner will almost always stop letting it out.  If you think a  pregnant cat is hanging around your yard give us a call. If she’s already had her babies the most important thing is to keep the nursing momma and the babies together.  DO NOT separate the kittens from the momma, they could die.  Again, call with questions on this one!

Please always err on the side of caution when dealing with a cat who’s medical history you don’t know.  If you feel unsafe or like you might be scratched or bitten DO NOT try to handle the cat.  Call your local animal control and ask for help.

If you’ve read this far and you’re still not sure what to do call us or try our helpful resources page.

Why We Can’t “Hold” Animals

Around 5:30 last evening my email pinged with a message from Google: we had gotten a 1-star review. Ouch! I always go in and read those in order to see what went wrong and determine whether we needed to recommend a different approach for our staff, volunteers, or even in the way we treat the animals. I quickly determined that this review fell into the category of the majority of our bad reviews, it was about our not “holding” an animal for the family. Those reviews go something like this:

I brought my family into the shelter and we fell in love with (animal name). Unfortunately, (family member) wasn’t with us so we couldn’t adopt but when we came back with (family member) the next day (animal) was gone. Now my family is heartbroken and I am frustrated and angry. The shelter knew we were interested, why couldn’t they work with us?

Here’s why. We love that you were so interested in that animal that you came back because in the majority of cases the family never does. They come in and fall in love with an animal and tell us that they will be back the next day with their family member to adopt. Then something happens. It could be that mom absolutely doesn’t want another cat, that dad found a dog at a breeder’s that is better for the family, that they didn’t realize that the guinea pig enclosure, toys, and accessories were so expensive, or even that they discovered that their homeowner’s association doesn’t allow dogs of a certain breed or size. Honestly, it doesn’t matter though because the point is that the majority of them never come back and, what’s worse, they never tell us they’re not coming back. That’s why we don’t hold animals. We cannot take away an animal’s chance to be adopted while we wait and hope that an interested family will come back. That’s not in the best interest of the animal. We do want to work with you though, so here’s what we advise.

First, if you seriously want to adopt an animal, have all your ducks in a row before you come. That means every person living in the house needs to be present. You should call up your vet and let him/her know that the shelter might be calling for a reference. If you don’t have a vet, that’s OK, we can recommend one. If you rent either make the same call to your landlord or get something in writing that says you can have a pet. Check with your homeowner’s association about breed/size restrictions. You still may not be able to take the animal home that day (it might need to be spayed/neutered for example) but we can finalize the adoption.

Second, if you are planning on incorporating this new animal with one already living at the house call us ahead of time about setting up a meet and greet. That means that we arrange a space where your current animal and the prospective new animal can meet in a safe and supervised way to see if they have compatible personalities. We do this most often for dogs but have done it for cats and even guinea pigs too so call us ahead of time and we can talk to you about it.

Third, do your research. I decided to get a fish once, thought it would be a fun and easy pet. Wanted one of the pretty tropical ones so I went to PetCo and came out $150 dollars later with the tank, the filter, and a bunch of other stuff I hadn’t prepared for because I was young and didn’t do my research. Guinea pigs need enclosures, cats like to climb. Birds need stimulation in their cages, dogs misbehave if they get bored so they need toys and opportunities to be active. Know how much a pet is likely to cost you and what it needs before you fall in love, it could save you trouble later.

Finally, don’t get discouraged if you don’t find your match right away. Check our website frequently and even call us about whether we have what you’re looking for. Also, the more open you are, the more likely we’ll have something for you. The family looking for a “smallish” dog might find a match far sooner than the family who’s only looking for a purebred Chihuahua (we almost never get those, by the way).

Our responsibility is to do the best we can for the animals in our care. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to work with you but ultimately, we work for them.

Going Away For The Holidays? Here Are a Few Things Your Pet Sitter Needs To Know.

Here in New England winter is often the time people try to get away for warmer climes.  Whether it’s for a weekend or a longer vacation though when pet parents go away they need to make arrangements for the furry family members staying behind.  Sometimes that means boarding or having a pet sitter come over a few times a day.  Sometimes it means that Fluffy gets a vacation of her own at a friend’s house or even that a friend comes to stay at her place (we could say it’s your place but really, who are we kidding).   Whatever the arrangements are you need to share more than your key and feeding instructions in order to keep everyone happy and healthy (and willing to pet sit again!).  Here are a few things I leave with people when my family goes away:

  1. A picture of each animal attached to their vet file. Each animal in our house has his or her own file with up to date pet records, any meds they take, etc that we keep upstairs in our office area.  When we go away those files come down to the kitchen counter along with a cover sheet showing a pic of the pet (we have 3 cats and a dog so sometimes pics are necessary to keep everyone straight).
  2. An introduction to any quirks the pet might have. Our dog Little Bit is the sweetest thing in the world.  Except for when the doorbell rings.  She hates (HATES!) the doorbell and launches herself at the door barking and jumping with all the fury of a 15 pound, sweet-faced, floppy eared animal who’s going to love whoever’s on the other side anyway whenever it rings.  Whenever we go away we leave a sheet of paper for each animal clueing our pet sitting friend in to whatever might make her experience…interesting.
  3. A quick list of numbers and addresses. This includes our cell numbers, our veterinary office’s number and address, Tufts Emergency Veterinary Center’s number and address, and my mother’s number, just in case.  If there is an emergency you don’t want the poor person scrambling around through that vet file looking for an address or phone number, better to just have it right there.
  4. The amount they can authorize to spend in an emergency. Steve and I learned the hard way that you need to have a number in your head and written down somewhere.  If there’s an emergency and the vet says it’s going to cost $1,000 to save Fluffy’s life your pet sitter can’t be expected to make that decision.  If she can’t reach you the only way she’ll know what to do is if you have a document somewhere that you have signed that says, “In the event of an emergency where I cannot be reached I authorize the expense of up to _________ in veterinary bills.” Take it from someone who said, “Do whatever you need to.” And got a bill for $3,000 6 hours later (cat still passed away).  You need to have an amount in your head and an authorization for your pet sitter.  Or pet insurance, but that’s a whole other post.

In addition to this there are a whole bunch of other common sense things that you probably already know about ranging from making sure Fluffy’s tags are up to date and on her to putting an old t shirt that smells like you in her bed so she has your scent when she gets lonely.  In fact, share your favorite tips in the comments below and maybe we can all learn from each other what works!