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Monthly Archives: November 2013

November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month

During November, we celebrate Adopt a Senior Dog Month. Most dogs are considered seniors after their 7th year of life, although smaller dogs may lag behind that definition a bit due to their slower maturity rate. Passed over for puppies, senior dogs are usually the last to be adopted in shelters. However, passing up a senior dog means missing many advantages that senior dogs offer when compared to their younger counterparts. Here are six reasons why you should bring a senior dog home this November:

1. Senior dogs are just as cute and lovable as puppies but don’t demand the same levels of energy and patience. Their demeanor and temperament are easy to gauge at the outset, giving you a much clearer picture of their personality than you get with a puppy. They are also past their wild and spirited phase, making them much more relaxing and enjoyable to be around.

2. Senior dogs are generally housebroken and often understand basic obedience commands like sit and stay. They usually are comfortable walking on a leash, playing fetch, and responding when called.

3. Senior dogs are less likely to destroy your favorite leather shoes (or chair!). Puppies possess an innate curiosity that propels them to explore as well as an intrinsic need to chew on things. Older dogs may still need to chew but generally know to go for their toys instead of your TOMS.

4. Older dogs reward their owners with intense loyalty. They often form bonds very quickly with their new owners and are faithful friends for life.

5. You can teach an old dog new tricks! Despite the adage, with the right training and attention, older dogs are just as capable (if not more capable) of learning new skills. They are less distracted during obedience sessions, often have longer attention spans, and possess an eagerness to please that often propels them to grasp new things.

6. You’re saving a life! It takes longer for a senior dog to find a new home and often, older dogs are the first to be euthanized when shelter conditions become overcrowded. By adopting a senior dog, you are providing it with a richer, longer, fuller life. What better gift than that?

If you’ve adopted a senior dog, we want to hear from you! What benefits have you experienced by bringing an older dog into your family?

Bringing Home Birdie

So you’ve decided to adopt a bird — congratulations! After you’ve selected the right bird for your lifestyle and living space, you can focus on the essentials you’ll need in order to create an environment in which your new pet bird will thrive.

Bird A cage is one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your bird. As wild creatures, birds need ample room to stretch their wings and perch comfortably. Some birds have long tails that need accommodating, others enjoy flying back and forth, some enjoy hanging upside down and playing — it’s vital that you take all these personality and behavioral traits into consideration as you’re shopping for a new cage. A good rule of thumb is to buy the largest birdcage you can afford and accommodate, provided it meets the spacing guidelines below.

Now that you’ve found the right size cage, you need to evaluate the bar spacing. Bars spaced too far apart can tempt your bird to wedge their head through the bars (or escape altogether). Small birds, like finches, canaries, budgies, and lovebirds, need bar spacing to be 5/8” or less while cockatiels, conures and senegals can be safe with spacing 1/2” to 7/8”, depending on their size. In addition to bar spacing, you need to evaluate the security features of a cage. Some birds are amazingly cleverly and mechanically inclined, meaning they can easily slide open a door or pry the locking mechanisms apart. Lastly, evaluate the layout of horizontal bars to ensure adequately spaced footholds for the bird who loves to climb.

Resist the temptation to use an antique, decorative, or used bird cage. Decorative cages might be beautifully ornate but few of them are designed for use with live birds and may be unstable, dangerous, and possibly toxic, depending on the types of materials used. Use caution when buying cages imported from other countries as well. Birds are extremely sensitive to lead and other toxic metals and many countries don’t follow the same guidelines we do in the U.S. about avoiding such materials.

Once you’ve found the perfect cage, it’s important to find just the right spot for your bird to reside. Ideally, the cage should be away from the kitchen (and the numerous hazards that abound there), far from drafty doors and windows as well as blinds and electrical cords, and in a place where they have a suitable view. Some pet owners surround the cages with bird-safe houseplants or situate them in an area where they can watch television or view outdoor wildlife.

Your veterinarian will recommend that you carefully monitor your bird’s weight to ensure they are in good health. A gram scale is a great tool to have on hand for those purposes. Appropriate lighting is also key. Since most birds reside indoors, they rarely get the natural light that they need for optimal health. Air Filters are another strong recommendation, removing the dander and dust created by your bird while protecting them from harmful pollutants inside your home.

Other supplies you’ll need include a water bottle and crocks for fresh water and food, tray paper to keep their cage clean, a suitable perch, appropriate treats and food, and an arsenal of bird toys. Birds are naturally curious and require considerable stimulation; having a selection of toys enables you to rotate toys to provide ample variety.

Lastly, schedule a visit with your veterinarian within the first week after you bring your bird home. Birds are masters at disguising their health issues so it’s essential that you partner with a veterinarian to keep a watchful eye on your new family member. They will help provide tips on bird-proofing your home, provide important dietary recommendations, check your bird’s weight, and perform a physical evaluation to detect any abnormalities and potential health concerns. Make sure to plan for annual checkups as well.

We hope you that being a bird owner will fill your home and heart with joy. Armed with the right information and supplies, you’re ready to take flight in the adventure of bird ownership.

Bird Ownership Takes Flight

AZPV - BirdsAccording to the 2012 American Veterinarian Medicine Association’s U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, “3.1 % of Americans have birds as pets” and they continue to rise as a popular choice. Before you call your area bird rescue for the bird of your dreams, it helps to have some facts on the more popular pet bird species. Some birds require considerable amounts of socialization and exercise while others have life spans longer than most humans or dietary needs that can quickly turn into a budget breaker.

Parakeets or, more accurately, Budgies (short for Budgerigar) boast beautiful markings and can be quite content in a medium size cage. The most common choice for pet birds, Budgies enjoy close human contact and can be taught to mimic words and noises. Living about 12-14 years, they are coveted for their beautiful singing and whistling as well as their cheerful disposition.

Cockatiels are medium-sized birds native to Australia. While some Cockatiels learn to talk, many are more interested in mocking the daily sounds of life around them, from commercials to household appliances. With an average lifespan of 15-20 years, they require a longer care commitment than some but reward their owners with years of companionship.

If you’re interested in a bird with fewer space and socialization needs, consider finches. While they aren’t quite as social with people, they crave interaction with other birds and do best in pairs or trios. These small, colorful birds are relatively low maintenance and live between 7 to 10 years.

Reputed to be as intelligent as their larger parrot counterparts, Lovebirds boast a 20-year lifespan. Lovebirds get their name from the affectionate interactions they often show one another, from resting their heads together and cuddling, touching, and feeding each other.

If you’re looking for a pet for life, properly fed Macaws can live to over 100 years. Native to the warmer climates of Mexico and South America, these brightly colored parrots have powerful beaks, long tails, and loud calls. Ranging in size from 11 inches up to nearly 40 inches, Macaws do best with dedicated owners with ample free time (and an environment suitable for loud noises!)

Despite their small size, birds require considerable care, socialization, and, of course, regular veterinary care. Our next post will detail some of the dietary and equipment needs of our feathered friends to ensure a smooth transition for your both. In the meantime, has a quick quiz to help you choose the right bird for your lifestyle.