All posts by Louth SPCA

Don’t Leave Dogs and Cats Outside in the Cold

You may have noticed the weather around the county has gotten bitterly cold, with temperatures dipping as low as minus 3 last night.  Naturally, you would keep yourself safe from this kind of cold, so make sure to do the same for your dogs, cats and other pets/animals!

First and foremost, DO NOT leave your dog outside in freezing cold temperatures. Dogs have been rescued or found dead in yards tied to trees or other stationary objects in icy and snowy elements. One of the most devastating things to come upon is a dog, or another animal, that has been tethered in the backyard during a winter freeze and to learn that the dog has actually frozen to the ground only to die from exposure. Being tied up and helpless to save yourself would be terrifying. Just think how our trusting pets feel when they are left in this state and unable to seek shelter, all while quickly succumbing to freezing temperatures.

Buy your dog a coat. This may sound silly to some people, but not all dogs have thick hair and older dogs feel the cold in their bones the way humans do when out walking. You can but a nice, warm, waterproof coat for your dog at any pet store or even online for less than 20 euro.

Dog CoatWhether house cat or outdoor cat, they need to be brought and kept indoors during cold weather. Scared and cold cats can get themselves into dangerous situations like getting stuck in pipes they have crawled into for warmth or hiding under car hoods on a warm engine.

As with hot weather, DO NOT leave pets in cold cars. Your car can quickly turn into an icebox, and result in their death.

Apply common sense in all cases – if conditions are undesirable for you, then they are undesirable or even dangerous to THEM. Your pet relies in you to keep them safe, make sure you do just that this winter.

What should I do before adopting an animal?

Any existing pets and your new arrival should be vaccinated for rabies, distemper, parvo, and other common diseases, as recommended by your vet. The bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine may also be recommended for dogs. There is a good chance that your new pet could be harboring a disease, and it isn’t wise to unnecessarily risk your other pets’ health. It would be ideal to keep incoming animals separate from your own pets for a period of time if you have the space to do so (and this is a must if you are introducing a dog that haven’t been fully vetted), but this isn’t always realistic since the animal will be living in your home as a member of the family.

In the case of dogs, make sure you have a well-fitted collar and ID tag. Remember that this dog doesn’t know you yet and might get spooked and run. Take all possible precautions. Better safe than sorry!

You will have to treat the new arrival like a puppy (or kitten!) at first. Puppy proof the house before he arrives. If he is young or has not been raised in a house, he might be destructive and not housetrained. You should set up a crate for him with bedding that can be easily cleaned or thrown away if soiled or chewed (like old towels).

If you choose not to use a crate, you should have a small, pet-safe room (like a laundry room) for when you cannot watch them. If you use an outdoor kennel for unsupervised time, make sure it is very secure (a cover or top is recommended) and be sure to provide appropriate shelter, shade, bedding, and clean water. Please also remember that cats like to be outside more than inside.

How to Care for Exotic Pets

Having a pet is a wonderful thing. Pets are great for children, teaching them responsibility, and they are fantastic company to those who may live alone. However, if you have exotic pets, there are some things you need to know about taking care of your pet. An exotic bird or reptile takes a different kind of care than a regular household dog or cat. Take a look at some ideas to keep in mind when caring for your exotic pets.

  1. Choose a proper vet. Since your pet is not an everyday, run of the mill kind of pet, you can’t choose just any old vet. You need to find a veterinarian who knows about your animal. Make sure your vet is willing to care for your exotic pet, as many vets may not take animals they are not familiar with.
  2. Start small. If you are just beginning with exotic pets, you wouldn’t want to choose a Burmese python. Start out with something smaller, like a guinea pig. This will help you get used to the different types and temperaments of the animals.
  3. Pay attention to their diets. For your exotic pet, you can’t just run to the grocery store and pick up a bag of food. In most cases, you’re going to have to do some careful planning to properly feed your pet. Do some research on the type of food your pet will eat.
  4. Create a safe environment. Likely, your exotic pet is living in an environment that is unfamiliar to them. Make sure the cage or room where you keep your pet is secure and safe from anything that may harm your pet. Also make sure your pet can’t escape the environment.

Exotic pets are fun and can really bring a lot of happiness in your life. Keep a few simple tips in mind for caring for the pets and you’ll have joy for many years to come. This website is a great resource for exotic pet owners.

Dogs and Fireworks

Adults and children alike look forward to the fireworks at Hallowe’en, New Year’s Eve and other occasions – but we sometimes forget that a lot of animals suffer terrible anxiety as a result of loud noise and flashing lights. You should keep your cat indoors if at all possible, but it is dogs who suffer the most around fireworks.

Some dogs have no problem with the sight and sound of fireworks if they’ve been desensitized — hunting dogs, for example, grow used to the sounds and smells of hunting rifles and gun powder. Most dogs, however, are not used to these things, so fireworks can be particularly stressful for them.

For example, more pets (dogs and cats) run away on Hallowe’en than any other day, so you should take extra steps to ensure their safety. Keep a keen eye on your pets during the commotion, and make sure your they are wearing proper identification.

You should arrange to have your dog in a place where there won’t be loud fireworks displays — a friend’s or relative’s home (ideally out of town) or a doggie day care with which your dog is familiar. If it’s an unfamiliar place for your dog, take him over there a few times in the days before the holiday so that it won’t be a surprise when you take him there before fireworks start firing off.

If you are going to be with your dog during the fireworks, sending the calming message that they are nothing to worry about will also help him to relax. Remember, though, while humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with energy, and will look to their pack leader for clues on how they should behave. If you’re not making a big deal or showing excitement about the fireworks, then he will learn to be less concerned as well.

In all cases above, expend your dog’s excess energy first, before the fireworks start, by taking her on a very long walk to tire her out and put her in a calm state.

Consider purchasing an anxiety wrap (“thundershirt” in US) to keep your dog calm. They’ve been widely reported to work quite well at keeping dogs calm during fireworks.

dog-anxiety-vest-wrap

Most importantly, don’t think of this in terms of your dog as your child who is missing out on a great, fun time. That’s human guilt. Your dog won’t know what she’s missing. You’re being a good pack leader by not exposing her to a situation that will trigger her flight instinct in a negative way. When the booms and bangs are over, your dog will be grateful to you for having made it a less stressful experience!

7-3-15-fireworks-color

 

Pets and Christmas Food

A lot of the lovely food you feast on over the Christmas period can be very harmful to our faithful companions. Watch out for the following favourites that are most definitely NOT for your furry friend!

Chocolate

All kinds of chocolate and cocoa-based products – including chocolate tree decorations and chocolate advent calendars – should be kept away from pets because chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine. Theobromine is toxic to dogs and cats: it can lead to a racing heartbeat, dehydration, digestive upsets, seizures and in severe cases DEATH. The darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is. Make sure any presents you leave under the tree do not contain chocolate if you have a dog.

If you feel you really want your pooch to join in the Christmas fun, there is such a thing as chocolate suitable for dogs, which contains zero theobromine. It’s this or nothing for Fido.

Christmas Cake

Never share fruit cake, mince pies or Christmas pudding with your pet, no matter how much they beg, because raisins and currants are highly toxic to cats and dogs, even when cooked. Dried fruit poisoning can cause diarrhoea and vomiting and, in very serious cases, could lead to kidney failure!

Fizzy Drinks

Apart from being full of sugar or artificial sweetener – both of which are very bad for your pet – many fizzy drinks also contain caffeine, which has a similar effect to the theobromine in chocolate. Rapid breathing, restlessness and a racing heartbeat are the potential symptoms of serious caffeine poisoning.

Nuts and Crisps

Salty snacks are a festive staple, but they’re bad for your pet in many ways. Peanuts and crisps contain too much salt and fat, and macadamia nuts are highly toxic: they can cause sickness, a high temperature, tremors and heart palpitations. The effects of macadamia nut poisoning can happen very quickly, so keep all nuts well out of reach.

Sugar-free sweets and Chewing Gum

These days, the sweetener xylitol is often used to replace sugar in sweets, cakes and chewing gum. Too much xylitol has a laxative effect on humans, but the consequences for your pet are much more serious. An excess of Xylitol can spark a sudden surge of the hormone insulin which, in turn, can cause seizures, vomiting, lack of co-ordination and potential liver damage.

Cheese

Keep festive cheeseboards away from hungry pets because dogs and cats can often struggle to digest the lactose in dairy products. Too much cheese can give your pet a tummy upset.


If you think your pet has eaten something potentially poisonous during the festive season, always contact your vet immediately.

So what CAN your pet eat at Christmas… aside from his own food, that is?

Christmas Turkey

The pièce de résistance of every Christmas dinner, your furry friend can enjoy small quantities of your turkey as long as all pieces are boneless, skinless and free from gravy or other marinades which can upset your pet’s stomach.

Potatoes

A super tasty side dish, again only feed your pet potatoes in small quantities – as they are starchy – and ensure they are plain with nothing else added, such as butter and salt.

Winter Vegetables

Carrots, parsnips, green beans, courgettes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, peas, spinach and cauliflower not only make yummy Christmas dinner trimmings but all great for your pet. Make sure you rinse off any excess butter or oil before giving to your furry friend and always feed in small quantities.

Why Puppies As Christmas Gifts Are A Bad Idea

Surprising your son, daughter, friend, or relative with a pet as a present may seem thoughtful, but it typically doesn’t end well for the cat, dog or other critter. Thousands of them are surrendered to animal shelters by March, some as soon as the first of the New Year simply because families or new owners weren’t prepared for the care and responsibility.

Here are a few reasons why giving pets as surprise Christmas gifts, or any kind of gift, is a bad idea.

Pets and Pet Owners need a Relationship

It’s pretty well known or accepted that the bond between pet and pet owner needs to be very strong and present right from the beginning. You can’t go out and pick just any dog or cat.

It is also tough to build that relationship during such a busy time of year. The surprise pet is already stressed at having been moved, of being introduced to a totally new environment from the pet store or family or shelter that he’s been used to, and really needs a quiet, calm environment. This quieter, calmer time is also necessary for pets and pet owners to establish a routine. With the chaos surrounding the whole holiday season, pets are often neglected.

Plus kids can be unreliable; kids change quickly. You know this! The puppy melts their hearts for a few days or weeks only. But then it needs to be walked every day (in the rain). It needs careful attention to its feeding and eliminating if it’s going to be housebroken effectively. It needs to be taught not to jump on people. The kids oohing and aahing under the tree will very soon move on to Facebook and texting their friends and ignoring the poor wee creature.

Pets Require Time, Money and Responsibility

Pets should not be surprise gifts because, particularly for new pet owners, some families are completely unprepared and overwhelmed by the care and expense that a new pet requires. Puppies and kittens especially, but adult dogs, too.

Typically, the larger the dog, the larger the expense for vet care and dog food and the bigger the clean-up both in-house and outside.

Everything that the animal needs to be properly cared for should be discussed and planned well in advance, including the kind and size of dog that best suits families’ individual home situations. Preparation includes realizing how decorations, foods and business at Christmas time can be frightening to animals.

Many parents don’t consider that 2 weeks later the kids are back to school and the puppy still needs walks and plenty of attention (or else it starts chewing things – all sorts of things!). Realistically, it will be YOU looking after this creature, if you think it will be looked after by the children once Christmas is over, you are fooling yourself.

Pet-friendly Alternatives

One alternative is to buy the pet supplies for Christmas and leave choosing the puppy or kitten or whatever, until after things have settled down. If they still want a puppy come the new year, and are willing to take responsibility for it, then maybe it is something that could happen for their birthday.

Pigmy Goats

Just a post to show how here at the Louth SPCA we never know what we are going to get next! These two Pigmy Goats were recently abandoned. They are wee devils that jump over EVERYTHING and bounce around a lot. Getting used to being handled… slowly.

They have had offers of homes already. We will be doing homechecks and making sure everything  is in order for them.

Christmas comes early at the kennels

Thanks to the Giving Team at PayPal we received a grant earlier
this year than before… and it was put to good use! We have at last gone from a rickety gate and messy yard like in the picture below, to a nice entrance and level surface you can actually walk across.

When it rained, it was embarrassing to say the least as people had to dodge the puddles to get to see the animals! Also for the volunteers welly boots were a must, even in the summer. Now we have a new driveway just in time for this year’s bad weather.

Christmas has come early for us at kennels!