Humane Dog House Considerations

Posted on August 27th, 2014 by Anna Nirva

wwtips_a2If you must keep your dog outdoors, construct an excellent dog house and kennel based on considerations of your dog’s breed, age, health status, your climate and environment, and safety and health features. Schedule daily activities so that your dog doesn’t become depressed or frustrated, leading to difficult behaviors. Never chain your dog.


It is now a well-established fact that dogs are social, pack-oriented animals who thrive on human companionship and are happiest while living indoors as part of the family. When you bring a new dog into your family, the dog learns to view your family members and your other pets as his or her pack. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip Classic – Watch for Strays

Posted on August 29th, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoThis Watch Tip was originally written by Anna Nirva.

With the upcoming holiday three-day weekend almost upon us, this classic watch tip bears repeating – many families will be traveling with pets to strange areas, and many pets will be either boarded or watched over in their homes by either professionals or friends and family.

Watch and listen for stray dogs and cats that could go missing while traveling with their families, or be frightened by holiday fireworks. Take action to save them. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Restraining Pets in Automobiles

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoThis morning, as I drove to work, I passed a car with a medium-sized dog with at least half of his or her body hanging out a half-open window, completely unrestrained.  As the car made a left turn, I watched from my rear-view mirror, worried that the pooch was going to fly out of the window as the vehicle careened around the corner.  The dog did not, and I was grateful, but it is an example of the need for pet restraint and/or containment in a vehicle.

Loose Pets in Vehicles Pose Many Risks

There are many dangers in letting pets roam freely in automobiles, to them and to others.  The group, Bark Buckle UP, has a detailed and thorough website that includes not only why pets should be safe, but all types of pet travel tips and product reviews.  From their site: Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Dog Park Tips & Warnings

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoDog parks have become extremely popular with dog owners for a variety of different reasons, including exercise, opportunities for socializing dogs, and just plain canine fun.  But there are problems to consider, and precautions to be taken, so that “fun” trip to the dog park doesn’t turn into a tragedy.   Following are ten tips and warnings to take heed of, and to distribute to any dog parents you may know!

1.         Do your research first.

Check out the dog park before taking your dog for his or her first outing.  Whether it’s Fido’s first time at this particular park, or visiting a park away from home, it pays to know the “lay of the land” before the first outing, and see what amenities are available (drinking water? separate play areas for small and large dogs?).  Know what the rules of the park are – they will have signs posted, and often a website that goes over the rules in more detail. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Veterinary Financial Assistance Funds

Posted on January 22nd, 2012 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoThe economy can affect ill or injured companion animals too. If you are lucky enough to be financially secure, think about those who have lost their jobs and can’t pay for vet treatments for their sick or injured pets as a result. They need assistance but some large financial assistance non-profits are struggling now too because giving is down. Some have closed! Please consider donating.

Economic Hardship results in Euthanasia for Treatable but Ill Companion Animals

If a family must choose between keeping a roof overhead and paying for life-saving surgery for their beloved companion animal, that animal often ends up surrendered to pounds and shelters now. Sometimes the companion animals have only minor ailments but their treatment cost is beyond reach. Shelters and pounds experience the same economic constraints, as we are all afloat in the same economic sea; they euthanize those pets to save money for their taxpayers. And so dogs and cats die when they should have lived.

If you are a compassionate person, this double tragedy of pet loss and family guilt is hard to contemplate.  And you could do something about it: you could support those national organizations that provide financial assistance to families with ill or injured pets. Keep them going! Add a few to your annual giving list. Some have closed their doors permanently, such as Feline Outreach, or temporarily, such as American Animal Hospital Association Foundation’s Helping Pets Fund.

Your local shelter, rescue, SPCA or humane society might provide a special fund for ill or injured homeless animals in their care as well; please inquire.

Check out this list of life-saving financial assistance organizations for pets:

In alphabetical order, with text taken from their web sites:

The Brown Dog Foundation:
Bridging the gap between the cost of medical care and saving the family pet, in memory of a special Chocolate Lab, like Sunbear was, named Chocolate Chip. The Donate link takes you to PayPal.

Cats in Crisis:
Cats in Crisis Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping cats and kittens with special medical needs receive the veterinary treatment they need to live happy, healthy lives. Their donation page provides a good variety of options.

Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program:
We are a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Charity Organization that provides emergency financial assistance to cat and kitten guardians who are unable to afford veterinary services to save their companion when life-threatening illness or injury strikes. Their “Please Help Us” page provides both PayPal and ChipIn options.

In Memory of Magic:
Since 1998, IMOM has funded non-routine veterinary care for more than 1800 companion animals. They have a a strong desire and determination to help people help pets, founded in memory of Magic, a special black cat. See the handy ChipIn widget that makes giving easy on the home page.

The Pet Fund:
The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit association that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need veterinary care. This group provides many ideas for giving on their web site.

RedRover Relief Fund (Formerly UAN Lifeline Grants):
The RedRover Relief program provides funding to Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations. The donation page is slow to open but is secure.

The Humane Society of the United States maintains a comprehensive list at this link that includes funding for specific types of illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

The needs are so great just now. Please do pick a fund to support and share this post with others with means to do the same. Even small gifts matter to the lives of those animals and families being helped; you can imagine how uplifting it feels to know that faraway animal lovers care and understand how desperately they want to help their pet to live.

Watch Tip: Products Not Tested on Animals

Posted on January 15th, 2012 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoBe a compassionate shopper; this is a New Year’s resolution you can keep. Purchase products for your home and personal care (including cosmetics) that are not tested on animals, so that you do not support animal testing laboratories and the companies that contract them. Proven alternatives to animal testing are available, especially for consumer products. Test-free consumer products are widely available now and many are no more expensive. Read labels; look for the words “not tested on animals.” If you don’t see those words, assume that the product is tested on animals.

Shoppers, start here, if you don’t find compassionate products locally:

None of these lists is all-inclusive. Each has different participation criteria. A company may choose not to sign the required statements or agreements required to participate in a listing.

What is animal testing?

Personal care products, cosmetics, and household cleaning products are tested on animals in laboratories, but USA laws do not require it. Large consumer product manufacturers typically contract with animal testing laboratories. Rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, cats, monkeys, and other animals are kept in small cages and kennels throughout their short lifetimes. They are forced to swallow or inhale test substances, and in one common test, up to 50% of them are expected to die. Caustic chemicals are applied to sensitive eyes (or applied to fur and skin). (Medical testing is a related subject not addressed here but very serious concerns exist.)

Yet test results are often unreliable, inconclusive or inapplicable to humans, many believe. The tested products are often included in consumer products, even if test results indicate some level of toxicity. If you are concerned about household or personal care products being safe for your family, you should also the question that animal testing used to justify that professed safety. And for animal lovers who believe animals suffer pain and deserve compassionate treatment, you should boycott products and companies that do not align with your values.

More information about testing:

Be aware that some types of products, including pharmaceuticals and some chemicals, require animal testing by law.

Five Simple Things You Can Do to be Compassionate to Animals

Watch Tip Classic: Fireworks and Holidays

Posted on December 25th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch and listen for stray pets who panic when holiday fireworks detonate—they may bolt through traffic or get lost. They might eat live or spent fireworks casings left on the ground. Be alert for violent cruelty to animals during this holiday in particular, when some troubled people become overexcited or aggressive!

Holidays are always high-risk for pets. Be vigilant.

What effects do all holidays have on your household? Holiday event schedules are busy and stressful. Your home might fill up with visitors and special dishes. Entrance doors and gates swing open and shut more often, and with so many distractions, tempting foods may be left out on counters. Spills occur and containers of cleaning supplies appear. New and unfamiliar people visit at odd hours. Interesting (sometimes fragrant) wrapped gifts and packages are sitting out.

Your dogs and cats are very attuned to these changes and they may become anxious or overexcited. They may be unsupervised in all of the hubbub and explore what they shouldn’t. It’s no wonder that accidents happen around holidays, and companion animals are so often involved.

Veterinarians will tell you that clinics are especially busy after any major holiday, and some of the stories are very sad—and almost always, the accidents preventable. Shelters and rescues will tell you that they get more calls to surrender dogs and cats around the holidays as well, often for behavior (lack of training) issues relating to holiday activities. This anxious adolescent puppy (pictured) was dumped on a SW Wisconsin county road just before a holiday. (She was adopted by a more responsible and loving family.)

Please be vigilant in your neighborhood and advocate for those who have no voice during any holiday. Be proactive in your home. If you expect visitors, crate your dogs and keep your cats in a safe room.

Remember, holidays are not celebrated for companion animals. They actually don’t mix well at all!

Watch Tip: Hazardous Winter Chemicals

Posted on February 6th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

wwtips_a2Watch for winter’s trio of common hazardous chemicals that can sicken or even kill dogs and cats when they lick their feet: antifreeze from leaks, ice-melt crystals, and road salt. Avoid walking in them when possible and be sure to clean paws after exposure. Consider using dog boots or coating pads with protective balms. Spread the word!

Paw-lick Alert!

In the wake of the huge winter storm affecting our nation’s temperate zone, many pet owners will purchase some of these chemicals for the first time. And their curious pets will encounter these curious new substances and smells.

Antifreeze is lethal. Even a teaspoon of the sweet substance licked from paws or a garage floor will kill. Many states now require manufacturers to add bittering agents to repel ingestion by companion animals and children. Wipe up any spills and drips and scrub residue with strong detergent.

Homeowners spread ice melt chemicals on sidewalks and driveways to keep families and vehicles safe from accidents. Then the pets and little ones rush out to play in the new snow. Walk around these chemicals when you can safely. Back at home, be prepared with bucket and towel. Dip furry paws in a bucket of water when returning indoors and towel dry. Wipe a damp towel around the bottom of human boots and shoes to prevent these chemicals from getting on your carpets and floors (store them on plastic boot trays).

Road salt might be spread on your community’s roadways to help keep drivers safe from accidents. When taking your pet for a walk, avoid the roads or walk on clean snow if it isn’t too deep. If your pet strayed into the road, be sure to dip paws into warm water, swish around, and then towel dry.

Keep your dog’s nails trimmed so that toes aren’t forced apart by splayed nails, which could allow cold snow or slush to reach tender skin. For long haired dogs, trim the hairs between the pads to prevent cold, painful ice balls from forming.

Consider coating your dog’s pads with protective balms such as “Mushers Secret” or “Bag Balm” or even Vaseline is helpful.

Watch Tip: Button Cell Batteries

Posted on January 1st, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWeekly Watch Tip for week of Jan. 2:

Spread the word about the dangers of ingesting button cell batteries found in remote controls, novelties/toys, and musical greeting cards. Pets (especially baby pets) will destroy and eat just about anything. Some things just “pass through” and others get hung up in a fold of tissue. Even intact (unchewed) lithium batteries may cause lasting damage to the gastrointestinal tract in just two hours.

Safety alert! Batteries are dangerous if swallowed—packaging does not inform buyers.

Playful pets who enjoy chewing on household objects are in danger of ingesting batteries, especially little button cell batteries found in so many things, including popular musical greeting cards. If you have a dog who likes to chew paper, you must make sure that musical cards are kept out of cruising and counter-surfing range. The same goes for remote controls (a popular chew toy, according to some dogs and puppies) and small battery-operated toys including pet toys such as battery-operated mice toys for cats (!). Don’t put this off until tomorrow!

Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Freezing Weather

Posted on December 5th, 2009 by Anna Nirva

weekly-watch-tips-whiteTip for Week of Dec. 6:

Watch and listen for chained or kenneled dogs and “outside” cats during subzero weather—without adequate shelter, fresh water, and extra food, they can get frostbitten or freeze to death. Please take action.

Did you know subzero weather anywhere causes suffering for outside dogs and cats?

Frostbite scar on Duffer's legOur rescue pit bull mix dog, a short-hair dog, Duffer, has hairless spots on his legs; see the picture. Our rescue cat Tillie has slightly rounded ear tips. Their skin was permanently damaged from frostbite.

Imagine what that must have felt like in the bitter cold. Of course they would have both somewhat accustomed to cold weather living in Wisconsin. Of course each one would have sought out the most sheltered spot available. The shivering would start and pause at times, as the wind would rise and fall. Then the shivering would increase. The chill would seep deeply into their bones. They would carefully round themselves into new positions fighting to protect one body area and then the next. And they would cry out in pain. Eventually hypothermia would set in and they would feel as if burning up and they would try to cool off. Then the cold would kill them.

Have you ever heard a dog barking nonstop on a cold night? One neighbor in Minnesota talked about her neighbor’s dog to reporters.  The dog had barked nonstop until past midnight. The next morning she saw the poor dog laying flat outside next to his plastic igloo dog house laying very still. He had frozen to death while in the throes of hypothermia. He suffered terribly. She felt very sorry for not calling the police, but her neighbor who owned the dog was the mayor of her small town, and she didn’t want to challenge authority. What would you have done?

One bitterly cold and windy winter morning at the shelter where I volunteer a cardboard box was found on concrete next to the north-facing front door. Two hypothermic kittens, possibly 12 weeks old, were huddled together inside with not even an old scrap of fabric to help them hold a little bit of their heat. They were near death. Shelter workers were able to revive them in warm water. Remember all cats are at risk of freezing to death if they are not free to seek shelter.

All short-hair dogs without an inner layer of fur that are chained or kenneled are at risk of frostbite and death. And plastic igloo dog houses do not provide any insulation. Zero. They must be fully packed with hay or straw in the winter no matter where you live. Old rugs are not enough insulation when winter’s cold storms roar.

How about giving a bale of hay or straw to a needy dog or cat this holiday?