Category: Guides

How to make your animal fundraiser material stand out

How to make your animal fundraiser material stand out

Animal rescue fundraisers lie at the heart of communities coming together to look out for our furry friends. However, as much as we’d like to have our hopes and wishes save those we love, running consistently successful fundraisers involves a great deal of effort toward fundraising material. Organising a successful event – online or offline Read More...

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Animal rescue fundraisers lie at the heart of communities coming together to look out for our furry friends. However, as much as we’d like to have our hopes and wishes save those we love, running consistently successful fundraisers involves a great deal of effort toward fundraising material. Organising a successful event – online or offline – can be expensive and time-consuming. While the best of us keep going back no matter how the first attempt goes, it’s always great to get it closer to right than wrong the first time round. So how do you ensure that you pull off your first successful fundraiser? It all starts with effective marketing materials! A successful fundraiser stands out and has high visibility especially to people who fit the description of the ideal donor.

Follow these tips to get started with the best fundraising material you’ll ever create!

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is the first step in any form of marketing. It is no different in terms of marketing an animal fundraiser. Whenever you organise your fundraiser, you need to know the characteristics of the people that you intend to target. Profiling your ideal donor plays a critical role in executing an effectively targeted marketing campaign.

Who would be the perfect audience for an animal shelter fundraiser? Pet owners would be a good fit as your ideal donors. For a dog fundraiser, you’d want to go with dog owners. Animal lovers and animal rights advocates would also make for a good audience.

Create professional posters

A surefire way of capturing anyone’s attention is with the use of beautifully designed graphics. In this case, you will need professionally done posters that speak your message loud and clear.

There are two methods of achieving a professional poster for your fundraiser. The first one is by hiring a professional to design the poster for you. Professional designers charge different rates, but one who knows his craft will probably command a high fee. Hiring a designer is only practical if you have a large operating budget that can accommodate such expense. However, if you’re working with a tight budget, you would need to go for an inexpensive option.

The second, more affordable option is to create your own design using free or relatively cheap resources. One such resource is Canva. Canva allows you to design posters and has templates for all types of posters including fundraising poster templates. Although a resource like Canva requires a monthly fee for you to enjoy its advanced features, you can utilise its free layouts and insert your own images.

This cat adoption poster tugs at the heartstrings by pairing the words “adopt me please” with a compelling image of a kitten in need. By clearly stating the website and details about the animals, the poster urges interested parties to send an inquiry immediately.

Adopt a Dog Poster

Got a dog up for adoption? Sharing an engaging photo and his interesting quirks in a playful format will definitely intrigue prospective pet parents. Don’t forget to include how people can get in touch with you!

This poster succeeds in drawing people’s attention through its bold block typography, eye-catching colors, and a clear-cut message about foster parents saving the lives of countless animals.

Make compelling videos

Videos have become a powerful and versatile medium of communication in the last few years. Visual content is so effective that 70% of marketers from different industries use videos to reach their audience. Judging by these facts, it would only make sense for any animal fundraiser organiser to use visual content to promote their fundraiser. When creating a video for your fundraiser, you will be killing two birds with one stone. You will be using the video to give your cause and mission more exposure, and at the same time, use the video as a call to action.

Videos offer way more opportunities for a broader reach than written content can. For starters, viewers can learn more from watching 45 seconds of video than they would if they spent the same time on written content. Videos are also easy to consume, especially on mobile devices. If you look at most of the content that goes viral, a considerable percentage of it is video content. When you create a compelling video of your fundraiser, there’s a possibility that it will be widely shared and may even go viral.

Sign up for a free account on Clipchamp and edit this animal rescue video template whichever way you want.

After crafting an effective fundraising video, where should you display it? YouTube is an excellent place to start. YouTube has placed itself as an online video juggernaut with millions of visitors each day. Social media such as Instagram and Facebook are also great places to post video content. They both have wide usage across the world and are also well optimised for video viewership on mobile devices.

When promoting your fundraiser using video format, you can create a series of videos telling your story and calling on to donors to help your cause. Besides helping share your mission clearly, creating a video series also builds up your audience as people follow your narrative. 

Get social

Besides being a platform for connecting with friends and family, social media is also an extremely effective marketing tool. Facebook and Instagram have over 3.27 active billion users combined. This is a huge audience to tap into. However, you’ll need to create a page and amass a huge following to have a wide reach with your fundraising marketing efforts.

There are two ways to push traffic to your social media pages, organically and through paid traffic. If you choose to go the organic way, you won’t need to spend any money, but you will need to put in a lot of effort and consistency for your page to get noticed. Growing an organic following also takes longer than using paid traffic. Using paid traffic to build your following, on the other hand, takes a shorter time but costs money. You essentially pay to have your page appear on people’s timelines.

Consistency in social media is crucial. Whether you use organic or paid traffic, you need to be diligent with your postings and interactions with your followers. Daily status updates and replying to comments help keep your engagements up. In addition to status updates, it’s advisable to post videos and photos that tell your story and what you stand for. Social media is a highly visual platform, and high-quality videos and photos will make your fundraiser page stand out.

A pun-tastic themed fundraising event that coincides with the return of a much-awaited TV show is sure to draw laughs and support from animal lovers.

Update followers about your fundraising efforts the way The Smush Foundation does. They encourage people to keep giving by sharing how much money they’ve raised and which animal welfare organisations they’ve helped. 

Share your upcoming fundraiser’s information the fastest way possible—through a social media post! At a glance, The Sato Project’s Spayathon for Puerto Rico poster quickly shares the location of its seven spay and neuter clinics. 

To recap

Marketing is undoubtedly a crucial aspect for any fundraiser. It’s safe to say that a fundraiser’s success is heavily influenced by the marketing plan in place. Lucky for you, you won’t have to use traditional and expensive marketing tactics. Instead, you can use a different approach by implementing the tactics discussed above. Not only are these marketing strategies effective, but they’re also relatively inexpensive and easier to implement. So if you’re planning a fundraiser anytime soon, use these simple strategies to save yourself some time and money!

how to kickstart fundraisers for animal shelters

How to kickstart fundraisers for animal shelters

Raising funds for a worthy cause is a noble gesture, but it can also be a pretty scary and daunting task to take on, especially when you are doing it independently. Getting started on your first independent fundraiser can be overwhelming because of all the activities involved in making it a success. The good news, Read More...

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Raising funds for a worthy cause is a noble gesture, but it can also be a pretty scary and daunting task to take on, especially when you are doing it independently. Getting started on your first independent fundraiser can be overwhelming because of all the activities involved in making it a success. The good news, however, is that there is a first time for everything. By following this detailed guide, you can increase the chances of independently raising funds lucratively, and over time, you would be able to fundraise like the big boys.

Read up on the guidelines and best practices that can help you execute a successful independent fundraiser.

1. Conquer your fear

Let’s face it; it’s natural to have some level of anxiety when venturing into something entirely new. It’s no different when it comes to planning your first independent fundraiser. Sending out your first fundraiser call will probably feel unsettling because asking strangers for money is awkward and embarrassing. However, it hasn’t stopped other individuals and organizations from fundraising, so why should it stop you?

You have to conquer your fear if you intend to become a kick-ass independent fundraiser. How do you do this? Well, there is no particular fix for fear, but there are some steps you can take to manage it. For starters, you need to build your confidence. Confidence is developed through knowledge, practice, and positive thinking. You need to gather lots of information about fundraising by studying how successful charities do it. Knowledge acquisition should then be closely followed by practice. Take part in fundraisers to get the hang of things. And finally, be a positive thinker. Imagine all your leads resulting into fruitful endeavors.

Of course, confidence is not something that you build in a day so it might take some time before you get used to the idea of asking strangers for financial aid. Nevertheless, it becomes easier as you gain experience.

2. Identify your fundraiser’s core elements

Organising a successful fundraiser involves a lot of moving parts, but there are core elements that every fundraiser needs to keep in mind.

You see, the primary objective of a fundraiser is not the money. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive because after all, there is a reason why we call it a fundraiser. However, a fundraiser is about the mission to change or save lives. You need to focus more on showing how you will help improve lives rather than focusing too much on the money you need.

Another core aspect of fundraising is transparency. You need to win and maintain donors’ trust from the moment you contact them, all the way to after they donate to you. It sounds like an uphill task, but it’s straightforward when you display honesty, consistency, and gratitude.

Honesty: Be clear about your fundraiser’s objective. Your donors need the whole scope of what they are donating towards.

Consistency: It helps if you have proof of involvement in other similar fundraisers. If you are running an organisation, you can show evidence of the work that you have done in the past.

Gratitude: Express your appreciation. Don’t take the donor’s money and go silent. It might give donors the impression that they have been duped. Always make sure to send a message of gratitude to your donors after completing the fundraiser.

3. Prospect for donors

After eliminating the fear of fundraising and identifying your core fundraiser elements, you need to prospect for donors by pinpointing people with an affinity for your cause. Your prospect should also be someone with the ability to give. For example, if you are planning an animal shelter fundraiser, your prospect would be someone who loves animals and has money to give.

The next step after profiling your ideal donor is finding prospects. Ideally, the best way to get prospects is through referrals from friends and existing donors. If you don’t have referrers, then you can explore other options like hosting a non-ask event. A non-ask event is an introductory event where prospects come to familiarise themselves with your organisation and its mission. The primary objective of the event is not raising funds, but instead, building relations with your prospects. You can then follow up with the attendees later on and cultivate them.

If you don’t have the budget for an introductory event, you can opt for other cost-effective methods such as an online campaign, direct mailing, and reaching out to donor clubs. These methods might be cost effective, but they lack the personal interaction aspect that non-ask events have. They may, therefore, take longer to get prospects interested in your mission.

4. Turn prospects into donors

Once you’ve made initial contact with your prospects, it’s time to cultivate them, run them through your donor funnel, and turn them into donors. Turning a prospect into a donor is like making a new friend. You need to build a relationship with them and keep them interested before asking for a donation. It would help if you didn’t ask for a donation in your first follow-up message.

Once you’ve established relationships with your prospects, it is time to hold the fundraiser and invite them. Your fundraiser can be in the form of a themed event that matches your mission. You can also go with online fundraising efforts such as a crowdfunding campaign.

Post-campaign tips

When the fundraising is over, don’t just take the loot and run. Maintain contact with your donors and show gratitude by sending them thank you notes. Keep your donors updated on your mission’s progress, so that they can see the impact they made with their donations. For example, if you were raising money to buy medical supplies for an animal shelter, take pictures of the happy animals that benefited from the funds and send an email update to all of the donors. Keeping in touch with your donors after a fundraiser builds trust and increases the chance of the same donors contributing to you again.

By conquering your fear, identifying your fundraising core elements, prospecting people, and successfully turning them into donors, you’ll be able to independently raise funds for your animal rescue as often as needed.

Understanding the basics of rescue shelter fundraising

Organising a fundraiser is no walk in the park. It is even more challenging when it is your first one. But before delving into the details, what is fundraising? Fundraising is the process of seeking financial assistance for a noble cause. The funds can be sourced from individual donors or charitable organisations. The art of Read More...

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Organising a fundraiser is no walk in the park. It is even more challenging when it is your first one. But before delving into the details, what is fundraising?

Fundraising is the process of seeking financial assistance for a noble cause. The funds can be sourced from individual donors or charitable organisations. The art of fundraising has seen so much evolution since the early days when people would take on the streets with bowls in hand to ask for donations. Nowadays, there are more varied and sophisticated ways to source donors and get funds.

Running an animal shelter is no easy feat. Between the food, toys, and medical supplies, an animal shelter can be quite an expensive undertaking. Rescuing animals and taking care of them is a noble duty, but it can be financially overwhelming for a single individual. It is best suited as a community undertaking, which is why fundraisers are a critical part of animal rescue.

As an animal rescue, how do you go about creating a successful fundraiser?

Tell your story

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to kick off and create awareness around your cause. Donors need to familiarise themselves with your cause and feel emotionally connected to it before they donate.

Most charity organisations use storytelling as a means to introduce themselves to the donors. An organisation like World Animal Protection uses storytelling to highlight the plight of animals worldwide and the need to rescue them. If a potential donor visits the organisation’s homepage, they can get a clear picture about animals suffering and how they can help change that by donating.

Storytelling for charity organisations isn’t limited to telling a story about how animals are being abused or neglected. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Success stories are another aspect of storytelling that is quite popular with charity organisations. Let’s face it; everyone loves a happy ending and what better way to give your donors a happy ending than sharing your success stories. These uplifting tales also act as social proof that you and your charity are doing something worthwhile with donors’ money.

Sea Shepherd Global is one of the charity organisations that has mastered the use of success stories to show their impact in protecting marine life. When you visit their page, they have a full page dedicated to success stories. There, they break down their mission in detail and highlight challenges that they come across.

Specify your needs

Being ambiguous about your fundraising needs and goals can hurt your fundraising efforts. You need to give a clear picture of what you need and what you intend to achieve with the fundraiser. Otherwise, you will look unorganised, and donors will not trust you enough to donate to your cause.

Every reputable charity organisation has a defined cause that they stand for. Sea Shepherd, for example, stands for marine wildlife conservation. World Animal Protection Limited, on the other hand, stands against animal cruelty and exploitation for entertainment. When requesting for donations, both these charities are very clear on what your donation will help them achieve.

Just like any other fundraiser, creating a fundraiser for an animal shelter requires you to have a clear mission. Do you want donations for food, medical supplies, or toys? If you call for volunteers, do you need them for medical check-ups or for grooming and feeding the animals? Do you need permanent homes for some animals in the shelter? Whatever it is you need, the last thing you want is to be coy about it. Do not be afraid to get specific with your needs. You would be surprised at the number of people who will come out to help even when your needs seem absurd to you.

Make your donors feel involved

Donors cut cheques because they care about your cause and want to get involved. Many people who donate don’t do so because they have money to spare. They give because they feel that your cause is worth contributing towards. The least you can do for your donors in return for their kindness is to make them feel involved.

Take the example of World Animal Protection Limited. Their call for donation is “Become an Animal Protector Today.” By referring to their donors as Animal Protectors, the charity gives the donors the feeling of inclusion in the animal protection effort. It also makes the donors part of a great cause which, in turn, gets them invested in seeing it succeed.

Sea Shepherd kicks up the donor involvement a notch higher with a few unique strategies. For starters, Sea Shepherd offers a range of options for how people can get involved in protecting the oceans. People can donate money and supplies, volunteer, or buy official merchandise. Sea Shepherd also refers to its donors and volunteers as part-time heroes, making them feel they are part of the organisation’s fight to protect the oceans.

Purchasing Sea Shepherd products is also a surefire way to get people invested and help spread the word about the cause. Wearing the organisation’s merchandise or displaying one of their stickers shows that the commitment to their cause goes deeper than donations. It also gives free publicity to the charity, which can result in more contributions.

All things considered

Whether you are looking to raise funds for your community animal shelter or raise awareness of animal protection, it’s great that the animals have you fighting in their corner. Animal shelter fundraising does not only get rescue shelters their much-needed resources, but it also helps create consciousness of the plight of animals all over the world. Because of the awareness created by animal shelter fundraisers, more people can donate and volunteer in their local animal shelters to ensure that the rescued animals get adequate food and medical care, and eventually permanent homes.

Buyer's Guide: How to Choose a Pet Loo For Your Dog

Buyer’s guide: How to choose a pet loo for your dog

Potty training is an essential part of every dog’s life. Bringing a pup home comes with a flurry of excitement, especially for first-time dog owners. The sound of tiny paws scurrying across the floor will melt your heart, and the regular routine in your house will go straight out the window. It’s not until everything Read More...

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Potty training is an essential part of every dog’s life. Bringing a pup home comes with a flurry of excitement, especially for first-time dog owners. The sound of tiny paws scurrying across the floor will melt your heart, and the regular routine in your house will go straight out the window.

It’s not until everything settles and the excitement subsides that you realise the changes you need to make to accommodate your new fur baby. For starters, you need to adjust your schedule to align with your pooch’s activities and purchase a few items to make your home pooch-friendly.

One of the essential things your dog needs is a pet loo. The question is: how do you choose the best pet loo for your pooch? Here are essential points for consideration:

  • Your residence
  • The size of your dog
  • Your dog’s potty training

Your residence

Do you live in an apartment complex or a house with a backyard? Wherever you live, your residence plays a role when it comes to choosing the right pet loo. Ideally, dogs like relieving themselves on grass, so people living in homes with backyards have the option of taking their dogs outside to relieve themselves. However, what do you do if you live in the city in an apartment complex, it’s raining hard outside, or you don’t want to take your pooch out in the middle of the night? You can get your dog a pet loo to use as his toilet.

The size of your dog

Your dog’s size matters when selecting a pet loo. Some breeds such as the Great Dane can grow up to 30 inches tall, while smaller breeds like the Chihuahua grow up to 10 inches tall. Just like dogs differ in sizes, they also differ in feeding habits, the frequency of their toilet breaks, and their toilet size requirement.

Large dog breeds require a larger pet loo. Luckily, most grass patch loos come in different sizes, so it shouldn’t be difficult finding a suitable one for your dog. Meanwhile, dog owners with smaller dogs have a variety of pet loo choices. A small dog breed like the Chihuahua can use a slightly large litter box or a puppy patch. However, not all dogs will enjoy using a litter box. Unlike cats, dogs do not have the instinct to dig and cover their poop.

Your dog’s potty training

The kind of pet loo you choose partly depends on your furry friend’s previous potty training. Some puppies are trained to use a litter box, so they are used to it. If that’s the case with your pooch, then you will need to get a litter box since any other kind of loo might confuse him.

If your dog was potty trained using a puppy patch, then a grass patch would be the perfect choice for a pet loo. A grass patch also works for dogs trained to potty in the backyard. The dog may, however, need a little bit of training and adjustment to go potty in the patch.

Types of pet loo

Now that you’ve considered getting a pet loo for your dog, it’s time to discover your options.

Artificial grass

Safe and reusable, portable pet toilets are perfect for indoor and outdoor patio use.

01. PetSafe’s Pet Loo comes with a patch of green grass that’s made of synthetic materials, but is said to feel similar to the real thing. Your dog can pee directly on the pad, which drains into a container that stores the liquid until you can collect and dispose of it. Choose from three sizessmall (53 x 45cm), medium (63 x 63cm), and large (83 x 83cm)depending on your pet’s size or where you’ll be placing the tray. Though more on the costly side (starting at AUD 189.99), the easy-to-rinse artificial grass (you’ll only need to replace it every six month, but there’s a tendency for the material to stink), effective slanted drainage system, and removable container (holds as much as 1.75L) make it a viable option for pet parents.

pet loo

02. Pet Potty Grass Toilet Training is a portable, anti-bacterial mat with a top layer of non-toxic synthetic grass (that’s washable with soap and water), an elevated grid tray, and a base collection tray that stores your dog’s pee. It only comes in one large tray size (75 x 50cm), but can work for most dog breeds.

03. KMart presents the most basic and affordable option (AUD 20) in the form of the Pet Potty Mat. This easy-to-use indoor pet toilet (43 x 68cm) consists of three layers of synthetic grass, plastic grate, and plastic tray (which may be prone to spillage due to its shallow depth). However, it is only recommended for small dogs up to 7kg.  

Real grass

If your dog prefers the feel of all-natural grass under his paws, you can try signing up for brands that offer subscription plans. The plan is usually dependent on your dog’s size and his frequency of use, but it comes out pricier compared with artificial pet toilets.

01. Fresh Patch uses hydroponically grown, dirt-free grass, so your dog might have a faster time learning how to use it. Practically odourless and disposable as a unit, it comes in a box and is available in three sizes: for pets less than 5kg, for pet 5kg to 12kg, and for pets over 12kg. The largest option, however, doesn’t come with a disposable cardboard tray so you’ll have to purchase it separately.

02. Potty Plant is another option for pet parents searching for fresh grass that won’t stink or need to be cleaned daily. Each starter kit costs AUD 230 and comes with an 83 x 62cm Potty Plant reusable frame that locks to hold the 100% natural and biodegradable “park” grass in place. You’ll need a subscription to replace the grass regularly, but the kit comes with a liner to help keep the tray clean in between replacements. However, you’ll need to manually change the grass every time your new order arrives.

Pet loo training tips

Whichever type of portable pet toilet you choose, you’ll need to train your dog to use it. A dog’s potty training is not cast in stone, so you can still change his potty habits. It just takes some time and effort, so patience is essential.

When introducing your dog to a new pet loo, keep these tips in mind:

  • Place the pet loo in the same place, preferably away from his feeding area. Some dogs do not want to pee or poo close to where he eats.
  • Observe your dog the first few times he uses it. When he goes uses it correctly, praise him and give him a treat to reinforce his positive behaviour.
  • Lead him to the area at regular intervals such as after he wakes up, after eating, and after playtime. Try to keep him at that spot until he relieves himself.
  • Say your usual catchphrase like “go” or “time to pee” to inform him that he can use the toilet.
  • Transition your dog from peeing on a pee pad or newspaper by placing it over the pet loo or patch and reducing its size until your dog is used to the new surface.
  • You can also try transferring a few drops of his pee to mark the area.
  • Do not allow your dog to sleep on the pet loo or puppy patch or he may not associate it as a place to do his business.

Aside from these tips, remember that you’ll also have to deal with potty accidents when they happen. Avoid shouting or forcing your dog to sniff his poop when he does it outside the designated area. Instead, clean up the mess as soon as you can. Removing all the traces of the mess sends your pooch the message that it is not okay to potty there.

Conclusion

Getting your dog a pet loo is part of being a conscientious dog owner. Depending on where you stay, what kind of dog you have, and your dog’s potty training background, you can find the right kind of pet toilet option that will suit your dog’s needs. Whether he’s a growing puppy or a full-grown pooch, a pet loo ensures that your pet will be able to relieve himself at any time of the day without your active involvement.

Dog grooming at home

Dog grooming at home

Whether you’re a new doggie parent or have had dogs all your life, it’s imperative to understand the importance of grooming your pup at home. Dog grooming plays a key role in keeping your pet happy and healthy, and can even help you bond with your dog! In this guide to dog grooming, you’ll learn: Read More...

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Whether you’re a new doggie parent or have had dogs all your life, it’s imperative to understand the importance of grooming your pup at home. Dog grooming plays a key role in keeping your pet happy and healthy, and can even help you bond with your dog! In this guide to dog grooming, you’ll learn:

  • Why dog grooming is important
  • Which dogs might need haircuts
  • How to clip your dog’s nails
  • How to brush your dog
  • How to bathe your dog
  • And other dog grooming needs

Why is grooming important for dogs?

Dogs seem to love getting dirty, and dogs in the wild must take care of their own grooming. So why does man’s best friend need our help? There are three main reasons why grooming is essential for dogs:

  1. Human reasons: Keeping your dog clean means less fur all over and less animal dander in the air, which can cause issues for people with asthma and allergies. Since dog fur also tends to lock in odours, proper grooming will also keep bad smells out of your home.
  2. Comfort reasons: Those odours bug your dog too, as does the weight, itchiness, and general discomfort of having a bunch of dead fur stuck in their coats. Long nails are also uncomfortableespecially dew claws that are too long!
  3. Health reasons: Not only is grooming good for your dog’s skin and fur; it also helps you keep an eye on their general health. When grooming your dog, take a moment to check for any fleas, ticks, skin abrasions, lumps, bumps, or anything else abnormal.

Pro tip: If you aren’t sure about the needs of your recently adopted pet, consult a veterinarian or a professional groomer. They’ll be able to help you set up the perfect grooming routine for your dog!

Why do some dogs get haircuts?

Many dog breeds, like Labradors, have short fur. The fur on these dogs grows in phases, growing to a certain length, stopping, and then shedding to make space for new fur coming in. However, some breeds have developed fur that is more like human hair, which has a much longer “growth” phase. These breeds seem to have hair that just keeps growing, and can keep getting longer and longer.

Long-haired breeds are more likely to be considered hypoallergenic, because this long growing phase means less sheddingby a lot. But it also means more maintenance! Dogs with long hair are more prone to tangles and matting, and long hair can harbour lots of dead skin and dirt, and even hide pests like fleas and ticks. Brushing is super important for long-haired dog breeds to keep your dog’s hair clean and tangle-free.

Animal advocates are split on the idea of doggie haircuts. Some folks believe that cutting your dog’s coat in the summer can help them be more comfortable, while other experts say that a dog’s fur can actually help them stay cool. During the winter, if you keep your pup’s coat short, be careful not to let them be outside for long periods of time, because you’ve taken away some of their natural protection against the cold. No matter the season, however, remember that if you choose to let your dog’s hair grow out, you must commit to brushing it at least once a day.

Pro tip: Matted fur isn’t just a hassle; it can be extremely painful for your dog. If you find matted fur on your dog, take him to a professional groomer or vet to get the matted fur safely shaved. Don’t try to remove large matts of fur on your own, as you may hurt your dog by accident.

Double-coated dog grooming

In addition to long-haired breeds like shih tzus and yorkies, there is another set of dogs that needs special grooming care. Huskies, malamutes, collies, shepherds, and other dogs that are bred for working in cold weather have what’s called a “double coat.” A double coat consists of guard hairs on the exterior, plus a thick inner layer called the undercoat, which helps insulate these dogs during colder seasons.

Dogs with double coats need to be brushed at least a few times a week or daily, if possible. Instead of using a normal brush that only reaches the top coat of your dog’s fur, you’ll want to get a brush that is specially made for undercoats! These mostly look like rakes or have metal teeth that get below the guard hairs to grab undercoat hairs. Regular trips to the groomer for a full bath and blowout can also help keep your double-coated dog’s fur in good condition and your home hair-free.

Pro tip: Do not shave the hair of your double-coated dog! It might seem like an “easy solution,” but it doesn’t actually reduce shedding and can make your pup prone to skin issues including sunburn. Plus, some dogs’ fur won’t grow back properly after being shaved.

How to clip your dog’s nails

Before you clip your dog’s nails, you’ll need to get them ready. If you’ve adopted a puppy, it’s important to start training him for grooming as soon as possible. You can do this by gently massaging your puppy’s paws, touching them all over, and gently pressing the joint to extend their nails.

If you have adopted an older dog, the process is the same, but you’ll need to be careful: Some dogs are fearful of being touched because of various reasons. Make sure your dog is comfortable with their paws being handled before you try to clip their nails. If your dog shies away, growls, or at worst, nips at you when you reach for a paw, STOP. Talk to your vet about the best way to properly groom your pet while keeping them comfortable, and you, safe.

To clip your dog’s nails, take their paw in your hand, and gently press on their knuckle to extend the nail. Using a clipper made specifically for dogs, gently clip the nail. We recommend doing this in a kitchen or other non-carpeted area, so you can sweep up after. Some folks like to do this outside, so there’s no cleanup necessary!

While clipping, be careful not to cut your dog’s nails too short. Inside the nail is something called a “quick,” which is the furthest end of your dog’s blood vessels and nerves in the paw. If you cut into the quick, it will likely bleed and hurt your dog. If your dog has light or translucent nails, you may be able to see the quick, but if your dog’s nails are opaque, you’ll need to tread carefully. If you do cut the nail “to the quick,” quickly apply pressure with a tissue or towel until the bleeding stops. Give your dog praise and let him rest and recover before you resume nail clipping.

Pro tip: There are different types of clippers to choose from, and different sizes based on the size of your dog! For bigger breeds, make sure you choose a sturdy pair with easily graspable handles.

How to brush your dog

As with nail clipping, first make sure that your dog is comfortable being touched all over. If your dog is scared of new objects, give him a minute to smell and get used to the brush itself. Then, brush your dog gently in the direction his hair lays. Never brush the fur in the opposite direction, as this will be very uncomfortable for him.

If you come across any knots or tangles, work through them carefully, being sure not to pull on your dog’s skin. If you cannot get a small knot undone, you can clip it with a set of pet scissors. As you go, clean out the brush frequently so you can remove as much dead fur as possible. Don’t brush your dog for too long or go over the same spot again and again. Over-brushing can irritate your dog’s skin!

Depending on your dog’s breed, you may need to brush him at different frequency. Most dogs should be brushed at least two to three times per week. However, long-haired breeds and dogs that shed more should be brushed every day!

Pro tip: Ask your vet or groomer which type of brush will be most effective for your dog’s fur. While a double-coated dog needs a deshedder, long-haired dogs do well with bristle brushes, combs for tangles, and soft brushes for super-shiny coats. Make sure you have the right tools for easy grooming.

How to bathe your dog

Before bathing your dog, you’ll need to decide where you’ll be bathing your pup. You can bathe your dog in a bathtub or outside if the weather is warm. You can also go to many dog stores that have “self-grooming” stations!

You’ll also want to make sure you have the right tools. You’ll need:

  • A hand-held spray nozzle or cup for soaking your dog
  • A pet-safe shampoo
  • A leash to keep your dog in place and in control
  • A brush
  • A towel or blow-dryer
  • Plenty of treats

To bathe your dog, start by gently getting all the fur wet. Avoid getting your dog’s head and face wet; you especially don’t want to get water in your dog’s ears. If your dog’s face needs to be cleaned, you can use a warm washcloth to gently wipe the face and outer ears. Then, add some pet shampoo to your hands and gently lather it into your dog’s fur. Make sure to get your dog’s legs and belly, too!

Once your dog is all soaped up, it’s time to rinse! Make sure you get ALL the shampoo out of your dog’s furshampoo that’s left behind can irritate their sensitive skin. Run your dog over with a brush to remove as much dead fur as possible. Then, you can gently dry your dog with a towel, or you can blow dry his fur if he enjoys it!

Pro tip: Dogs have very sensitive skin, and pet-safe shampoo is made with this in mind. Shampoo for humans is harsher than pet shampoos, and using it on your dog may lead to skin irritation.

Let’s review: dog grooming

By now, you’re an expert in dog grooming at home. You’ve learned:

  • The three reasons dog grooming is important
  • How to clip your dog’s nails
  • How to bathe and brush your dog
  • And how to care for long-haired and double-coated dogs

When you follow a proper grooming routine with your dog at home, you ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy, and you keep your home free of shed fur and bad odours. Your dog, family, and friends will all thank you!

For more information on a puppy’s important firsts, adopting an adult rescue dog, and more dog-related articles, check out our blog.

Cat Grooming at Home

Cat grooming at home

Wondering what’s the best way to groom your cat at home? Cat grooming is an essential part to keeping your kitty happy and healthy. Luckily, cats do a lot of the hard work themselves; cats are naturally clean animals, and you’ll frequently see these creatures licking themselves or their playmates. However, there are still some Read More...

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Wondering what’s the best way to groom your cat at home? Cat grooming is an essential part to keeping your kitty happy and healthy. Luckily, cats do a lot of the hard work themselves; cats are naturally clean animals, and you’ll frequently see these creatures licking themselves or their playmates. However, there are still some things you’ll need to do to keep your cat well-groomed. In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Why cat grooming is important
  • How to prepare your cat for grooming
  • How to clip your cat’s nails
  • How to brush your cat’s fur
  • How to bathe your cat
  • When to visit the vet for other grooming needs

Why cat grooming at home is important

For cats, grooming is an important part of staying healthy and active. Cats spend, on average, up to 50% of their waking hours grooming themselves and their kitty playmates. In addition to keeping kitty clean, grooming has several other benefits. Regular grooming helps keep your cat’s fur coat shiny, and allows her to distribute important oils throughout her fur, which ultimately help keep her warm and dry.

Grooming also helps your cat regulate her body temperature! Cats actually sweat from their paws, but these glands aren’t enough to maintain a healthy body temperature. Instead, when your kitty cleans herself, the evaporation of saliva on her fur keeps her cool. Additionally, the process of grooming improves blood circulation. Cat saliva is also full of enzymes that make it a natural antibiotic, which is helpful if your cat has a scratch on her body! (Note: Be sure to visit the vet if your cat has any scratches or wounds.)

The other side of grooming is the social aspect! Grooming is a relaxing activity for cats. In the “wild,” it’s what they do after hunting and eating; grooming comes in when it’s time to calm down. Additionally, because grooming is an intimate activity, this is one of the ways cats show affection for one another, often bathing each other in pairs or groups.

If my cat grooms herself, why do I have to groom her too?

Yes, cats are experts at self-grooming, but they still need help once in a while. Brushing your cat lets you bond with them, the same way another cat would by licking her fur. It also helps reduce shedding and dead fur that ends up floating around your house. Additionally, for long-haired cats, brushing helps prevent tangles and mats that your cat couldn’t fix by herself.

Similarly, your cat would technically be fine if you didn’t trim their nails. But if your cat has a natural instinct to scratch with those nails, your furniture, clothing, and tender skin may not fare so well.

Grooming also helps you stay in tune with your cat’s state of health. If you regularly groom your cat, you are much more likely to notice scratches, fleas, ticks, or any other health issues your kitty might be dealing with. Plus, if your cat gets into something messy or gets something on her fur that’d be dangerous for her to consume, it’s up to you to clean her properly.

Training your cat for grooming

Most cats won’t be happy with you if you just pick them up and start trying to clip their nails. Grooming without helping your cat understand what’s happening is stressful and frightening for her. So before you pick up a brush, you’ll need to get your cat comfortable with the process of grooming.

If you’ve adopted a kitten, start on the grooming training as soon as possible. Gently pick up your kitten when she is relaxed, and practice petting her, touching her paws, and gently pressing on her knuckles to expose her claws. The more comfortable your kitten is with being handled, the better she will respond to grooming. It will also make vet visits much easier!

When grooming your kitten, do it as gently as possible. Praise her throughout the grooming process and give her treats afterwards. If she is uncomfortable, do not force her to staythis will only scare her, making her likely to scratch you and make future grooming a battle.

If you have adopted an older cat, the process is the same. However, you need to be aware of your adopted kitty’s past, and that they may not have been handled much or correctly before. Some cats may be scared to be touched at all, especially just after being adopted. If you are working with a cat who is frightened of contact or grooming, talk to an animal behaviourist or veterinarian to see how you can groom your cat in the best and safest way possible.

How to clip a cat’s nails

You should try to clip your cat’s nails once every two weeks. This will keep them at a comfortable length for your cat, while protecting you and your home. Before clipping your cat’s nails, make sure you are dressed appropriately—wear a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans or thick pants, just in case! To clip her nails, follow these steps:

  1. Place your cat on your lap or nearby in a comfortable position, where you can reach her paws.
  2. Take one paw and gently press on it to extend your cat’s claws.
  3. Examine the nails. If they are short enough, there’s no need to clip them!
  4. Clip a nail using a nail clipper made for catsNOT a human nail clipper. Be careful not to clip your cat’s nails too short. Most cats have clear nails, so you’ll be able to see the nail’s “quick.” This is where the blood vessels end, and there are lots of nerves here. Cutting into the quick will hurt your cat, and she will bleed!
  5. Praise your cat and offer her a treat for a job well done.

Pro tip: If you are unable to safely and calmly cut your cat’s nails, take her to a vet or groomer who can help. Some cats are scared for reasons you can’t control, so the best thing you can do is to make sure both you and your kitty are safe, and that they get the grooming they need from a professional.

How to brush a cat

This probably seems like an easy one, right? Well, it’s still important to make sure you’re brushing your cat the right way and with the right tools. For long-haired cats, you’ll want to buy a steel comb, sometimes called a slicker brush. For short-haired cats, you can choose between a metal or a rubber comb. Rubber combs and brushes are great for getting rid of dead skin and fur!

To brush your cat, simply place her on your lap or near you while she is relaxed. Then, gently brush in the direction her fur lays down. Never brush a cat in the opposite direction to her fur! Praise your cat and give her some treats when you are done.

Pro tip: Long-haired cats should be brushed every day to help prevent tangles. Short-haired cats should be brushed at least twice a week to help reduce shedding.

How to bathe a cat

The only time you should be bathing your cat is if they’ve gotten extremely dirty, or if they have fleas or another medical condition that requires bathing. For a normal bath, remember to only use a pet-safe shampoo made for cats. Human-formulated shampoos are too harsh for cats and can irritate their skin. For baths to get rid of fleas or help with other medical issues, ask your veterinarian about what products are safe to use. To bathe your cat, follow the steps below:

  1. Pick a time when your cat is relaxed, such as after playtime.
  2. Make sure your cat’s nails have been recently trimmed, for your own protection.
  3. Check the water temperature. Just like you would for a baby’s bath, make sure the water isn’t too hot or cold for your cat. Lukewarm is perfect.
  4. Place your cat in the sink or bath, and gently wet your cat’s fur with a hand-held spray hose or by pouring from a plastic cup.
  5. Gently massage the shampoo into your cat’s fur.
  6. Thoroughly rinse your cat’s fur. Make sure not to leave any shampoo behind.
  7. Dry your kitty with a towel. If your cat likes it, you can use a blow-dryer on “warm” to help your cat dry quickly.

Pro tip: Do not pour water on your cat’s head. If any water gets in your cat’s ears, dry them thoroughly to avoid infection. If your kitty’s face is dirty, clean it carefully with a damp washcloth.

Other cat grooming needs

In addition to brushing and nail clipping, your cat may need other grooming help from time to time. For example, cats need clean teeth! Of course, most of them hate it when you touch their teeth, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do this on your own. Talk to your vet about your cat’s specific dental needs, and how often they might need a vet visit specifically for teeth cleaning. There are also treats and cat toys that help reduce tartar and protect your kitty’s teeth.

If your cat has dirty ears or goopy eyes, gently wipe away the dirt or goop with a warm washcloth. However, if your cat’s eyes continue to have discharge or her ears are dirty again quickly, it’s time to visit the vet.

In conclusion

Okay, so you’re ready to groom your cat! By now you should understand:

  • The benefits of cat grooming
  • How to prepare your cat for grooming
  • How and when to clip your cat’s nails
  • How and when to brush your cat
  • How and when to bathe your cat
  • AND when to talk to a vet or other cat professional

Remember, if done properly, grooming should be a stress-free part of your cat’s healthy routine. For more information on cat care and on adopting cats from shelters, check out the rest of our blog!

Your complete adult rescue dog starter kit

Your complete adult rescue dog starter kit

Adopting an adult dog from a rescue shelter is probably one of the very best ways to extend your family. Read on for important information on how to prepare for the arrival of the new addition to the family, which pet supplies you will need and more! In this article we will: Give you a Read More...

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Adopting an adult dog from a rescue shelter is probably one of the very best ways to extend your family. Read on for important information on how to prepare for the arrival of the new addition to the family, which pet supplies you will need and more! In this article we will:

  • Give you a list of dog supplies to prepare yourself with
  • Discuss the advantages of adopting an adult dog
  • Explore possible issues and ways that you can deal with them

First things first, your adult rescue dog starter kit should include the following:

  • A dog crate
  • Collar and leash
  • Food and water bowls
  • And a nice comfy blanket or doggie cushion
  • Kibble and doggie treats

You should easily be able to find all of these things them in any pet supplies store. Now, let’s unwrap how you will use each of these items to integrate your adult dog into her new home.

Advantages of adopting an adult dog

Puppies are cute but the cuteness ends when you discover your favourite shoes chewed or you realise that playing with your new puppy leaves your hands shredded. All this at the same time you discover a nice little heap of steaming poop in the corner.

While adopting an adult dog is no walk in the park and has its own challenges, very often they’ve already developed their personalities and are easier to match with the perfect home. For example not all dogs are active but if you are looking for a dog to join you on your morning runs it’s not always easy to guess the type of dog a puppy will grow up to be.

Adult dogs have their benefits plus there is that feeling of satisfaction you get when you give a dog the second chance that she may not have had otherwise.

 

Food and transition

Dogs are great, they don’t ever complain about eating the same food every day, in fact, they prefer it. It’s good for their digestive tract and any changes can affect them negatively. For this reason it’s quite important to find out what food your new pet has been eating. Don’t be alarmed if it is not quite the same quality of food that your vet has recommended. In many shelters where they are forced to feed many mouths this may be the case. Simply continue with the old food, mixing it in with the new food, gradually phasing out the old food while introducing the new food.

 

Meeting the rest of the family

For families without any four legged babies, the first round of introductions with family members or flat mates would need to be gentle, taking care not to crowd your new dog’s immediate space as she enters your home. If you already have a dog or cat, or both – or more! then take care to cater to your current dogs and cats being very territorial. It usually takes some time for current pets to welcome home new pets. To avoid possible problems introduce your newly adopted dog to your other dogs in a neutral environment such as a park that you frequent. The cats will simply have to deal with your new four legged friend in the best way they know how. Here’s a handy post on how best to introduce your cat to a dog (good luck!)

It’s always a good idea to follow your rescue shelter’s rehoming recommendations for the animal you are interested in. Most adult dogs would have a profile listed along with other adoption info about vaccinations, socialisation, and more. Matching known behaviour and preferences to new homes is a key area for shelters looking to set up such adoptions for maximum success, so work with them to understand your lifestyle and space and how it caters to the different dogs in their care. Be careful not to take on more than you can handle, so that your new friend doesn’t need to be re-homed again.

 

Trust and anxiety

Dogs don’t land up in shelters by the most humane circumstances. It’s true that many shelter dogs have suffered at the hands of humans and will need to learn to trust again. The first few days are of utmost importance when it comes to gaining her trust again. Before getting started with anything else, read this post on how to prepare your home for its newest four legged baby.

 

Be consistent

During this first week your new dog will be watching you for cues much the same way as dogs in the wild look towards the leader to see how they manage or react to certain situations. Your dog will learn what to expect as you follow your routine. Stick to feeding times and at night make sure she knows where she will be sleeping. If she knows how to use a dog crate, make sure to let her use it so that she has her own safe space to retreat to. Or better yet, pull her bed out of your dog starter kit and set it in a quiet yet not isolated area.

 

Food as a source of trust

Food is a big deal with dogs and as the controller of resources you can use this to your advantage. This is where those doggie treats that you added to your dog starter kit right at the beginning come into play. Well timed treats will create a rapport and trust between the two of you that your new doggie has possibly not experienced from anyone else in her recent past. Since food is such an important resource to dogs, its power in building trust cannot be over emphasised.

 

Space and personality

Allow your newly adopted dog to come out of her shell in her own time and respond to her as she starts to approach you. During this time she is trying to figure out her place in the pack. When she does approach you reinforce this good behaviour when it is done appropriately with treats and attention.

 

Hunger strikes

Hunger strikes are not normally anything to be worried about but are important to be aware of. A couple of days without food are unlikely to have any effect on the newcomer. Head on down to the pet supplies store and see if you can coax her with another brand of food but if the hunger strike goes on for more than two or three days, it’s time to speak to your vet.

 

To be on the safe side…

During the adjustment phase it is best to keep your new adult rescue dog on a leash, each time you go outside. This will help her get used to the boundaries of her space as well as prevent her from digging to escape during any anxiety attacks during the adjustment phase. Also by getting her used to using her dog crate at night you will help her ease into life with her new family in no time.

In case of more serious behavioural issues such as aggression towards kids, adults or other dogs, it’s best to seek professional help as early as possible, and relentlessly and consistently follow all training routines and recommendations. You’ll find that switching off such problematic behaviour takes immense attention and care, and this is why people who choose to adopt adult rescue dogs with problem behaviours deserve all the love, patience and support from their communities. Adopting a senior with issues is truly the heart and spirit of animal rescue, and we – as a community – owe all our understanding and comfort to those who choose to take on such a tremendous task.

Aside from this extra diligence, adopting an adult dog definitely has its advantages and by following these simple guidelines and preparing with a basic dog starter kit right from the beginning you will set you and your new bestie hound up for a successful start.

7 Reasons To Microchip Your Pet

7 reasons to microchip your pet

There really is only one reason to microchip your pet, and that is to be able to find him if he runs off and gets lost or is stolen. Microchipping isn’t the only way to prevent your pet from getting lost forever, other methods include collars and tags, fencing in your property and neutering your Read More...

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There really is only one reason to microchip your pet, and that is to be able to find him if he runs off and gets lost or is stolen. Microchipping isn’t the only way to prevent your pet from getting lost forever, other methods include collars and tags, fencing in your property and neutering your beloved pets to prevent them from wandering off. With so many options and methods available could it be that adding a microchip to the list of preventions is unnecessary? We are going to outline in this article:

  • What is a microchip and what microchipping involves
  • The cost vs benefits
  • The probability of finding your pet with versus without a microchip
  • Various benefits that microchipping has that other prevention methods don’t.
  • Pitfalls of pet microchipping: are there any?

What is a microchip?

The procedure is performed by a vet where she inserts a microchip about the size of a grain of rice under the skin on the neck of your pet into the ligament using a needle. The whole ordeal takes about 20 seconds and it has been shown to be the most effective method in reuniting lost pets with their families (Lord LK, Wittum TE, Ferketich AK, et al. Search methods that owners use to find a lost dog. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 2007; 230: 211-216.). In this study animals without microchips had a mere 13% chance of finding their way back home while a microchipped pet had a 74% chance of being reunited with their owners.

#1 Microchipping is affordable

Technology comes at a price! And on all too many occasions the idea is discarded before any phone calls have been made or before any research has been done, for being ‘too expensive’. The good news is that pet microchips are not on the list of expensive gadgets and can be done for an average cost of $45. When you consider that this is a once off expense plus the fact that many pet owners will spend on average $25,000 (this figure is based on research done by the Australian Veterinary Association) on a pet during its lifetime, the benefits seem to already outweigh the costs.

 

#2. A reliable form of permanent identification

With the passing of the years the names and phone numbers on dog tags can get worn out, tattoos can fade, collars can get lost or slip off while your pet is in the act of escaping or, if someone is trying to steal your dog a collar is easily removed whereas a microchip, not so much! Combining a dog microchip with a collar and tag gives you an even better chance of finding your pet if she gets lost.

 

#3. Easy to read

When inserting a pet microchip first became a big deal, they discovered a caveat which many people use in their argument against microchipping to this day. Microchips weren’t readable by all microchip scanners because of the different frequencies used by the various microchip manufacturers. If you are on the fence about microchipping you can confidently cross this off the ‘con’ list. The decision to create consistency in standards (using 134.2-kHz as the standard frequency) by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) encouraged the integration of universal (forward backward) scanners into the market. Since their introduction most vets and rescue operations use these types of scanners or at the very least have access to one.

 

#4. Databases accessible 24/7/365

One of the points that have been made against microchipping is the lack of a central pet registry, instead, each microchip manufacturer has their own database. Australia has taken a huge step in providing a centralised database for all microchipped dogs and cats, putting this argument to rest. Registering your correct details with the pet registry and keeping it up to date shouldn’t be a life changing chore, but Lord et al found that of the microchipped pets that landed up in shelters only 58.1% of owners had actually bothered to take the next step in registering or maintain their information on the databases and went on to further recommend that a pet microchip should go hand in hand with registration, completing both steps in one fluid process.

 

#5. One time lifelong solution

A microchip doesn’t wear out, they don’t need to be replaced and they don’t need maintenance. It’s simply a matter of insert, register your pet on the registry and basically forget about it. It has been advised to have your vet scan the microchip as part of your pet’s annual check-up, just to make sure that all is in order and that the microchip hasn’t migrated and become lost.

 

#6. Painless

It can be argued that having a needle thick enough to contain a grain of rice penetrate your pet’s skin can hardly be considered pain free. However, the pain lasts for the 20 seconds that it takes to insert the chip and compared to other forms of permanent identifications such as tattooing or branding, microchipping falls into the painless category.

 

#7. It’s the law

Though it is not law in all states (yet), in Southern Australia it is compulsory to microchip and register all dogs and cats in a central pet registry. Bear in mind that this means keeping your details up to date on both the manufacturer’s database as well.

Potential problems

We live in a world where nothing is foolproof and that includes pet microchips as well. Complications include hair loss, migration of the chip (moving to other parts of the body), infection, tumours and outright failure. A report (Personal communication, British Small Animal Veterinary Association, September 10, 2009.) in the United Kingdom following 3.7 million microchipped pets revealed that migration of the chip was the biggest issue with a total of 229 animals affected from 1996 to 2009. This translates to a microscopic percentage and the benefits clearly outweigh the possible complications.

While it is true that microchipping is not the only option for identifying your pet, nor is it 100%, it definitely comes out top when compared to the other available options. The microchip itself requires next to no maintenance however as a pet owner your responsibilities to register your details and keep them up to date are key when it comes to reuniting you with your lost pet.

What is kitten season?

If someone says “It’s kitten season!”, it probably sounds like a super exciting time, when we can all enjoy adorable kittens. While it’s true that kittens are wonderful little fluff balls, kitten season isn’t so positive. In reality, kitten season contributes to the overpopulation problem, causes tons of kitten deaths, and is a huge burden Read More...

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If someone says “It’s kitten season!”, it probably sounds like a super exciting time, when we can all enjoy adorable kittens. While it’s true that kittens are wonderful little fluff balls, kitten season isn’t so positive. In reality, kitten season contributes to the overpopulation problem, causes tons of kitten deaths, and is a huge burden on our animal rescue efforts.

In this guide to Kitten Season, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about kitten season, including:

  • When it starts and how long kitten season lasts
  • Why cats are so good at breeding
  • Why spaying and neutering is important
  • What to do when you encounter a kitten in the “wild”
  • AND, how programs like Trap-Neuter-Return initiatives help

So keep reading to become a kitten season expert, and cat population control advocate!

Understanding kitten season

Kitten Season is the time of year when cats primarily breed. You know how spring is when all those cute forest animals are born? Yep, that’s when cats start having babies too. But for cats, breeding season is even longer than for other animals. Though Kitten Season starts in spring, huge numbers of kitten births can continue all the way to autumn.

Why are so many kittens born during Kitten Season?

Unlike dogs, who routinely go into heat once every six months, cats have developed a seasonal mating cycle. Starting in spring, a female cat can go into heat as often as every two weeks. Plus when a “queen” is in heat, she is relentless in finding a tomcat to mate with. She’ll actively search out mates, and mate with a tomcat multiple times to increase the chances of a pregnancy. With plenty of tomcats on the prowl, it’s not hard for each queen to find a mate.

Then there’s the fact that cats are extremely good breeders biologically. In addition to frequent heats and the intense instinct to mate, female cats are “induced ovulators.” This means that instead of an egg dropping automatically during heat, the eggs wait until after copulation, dropping between 30-50 hours after mating. This greatly increases the chance of sperm and egg meeting, resulting in kittens.

Cats can give birth to anywhere from two-five kittens at a time. Additionally, most cats reproduce multiple times during the long Kitten Season months because a queen can go back into heat before her litter is even weaned. The average queen will have three litters per Kitten Season, so she can produce up to 15 kittens a year. And as those kittens grow up, they just add to the problem; in two years, a cat and her offspring could produce up to 225 cats!

The challenges of kitten season

In addition to overpopulation, kitten season produces lots of obstacles for animal rescuers. Most cat mamas are feral, and therefore quite hard to catch. Plus, feral mama cats often leave their babies to go hunt. So most kittens are found alone, and brought into shelters either individually, or with their siblings.

The younger a kitten is, the more help it will need. Without a mom, even kittens receiving the best care only have about a 50% chance of survival. And caring for young kittens takes a lot of work. Young kittens need to be fed very frequently, washed routinely, and even need help to go to the bathroom. Caretakers also have to teach kittens the “cat basics” they’d usually learn from mom, such as how to clean themselves and use a litter-box.

Young kittens are also highly vulnerable to disease. Without a mama cat, this problem is even worse, because they don’t receive the benefits of colostrum from mom’s milk. So kittens need to be kept in foster homes until they’re old enough to thrive in a shelter setting.

 

How can I help?

Luckily, there are lots of ways that you can help protect the cats we have, and help reduce reproduction rates. Here are a few top ways you can help out during kitten season months.

 

What to do when you see a kitten

When you come upon a kitten along the road, in your parking lot or in your backyard, it’s important to approach the situation carefully. Look out for signs of serious illness, and make sure you can safely rescue the kitten before reaching out to grab it. Be especially careful to avoid a bite or scratches, as cat bites and scratches are notorious for getting infected. Here are a few other tips on what to do when you see a kitten:

  1. Check the surrounding area. Where you see one kitten, its siblings are likely nearby.
  2. Take note of where you are, so you can tell rescuers and they can continue the search.
  3. If you see a mom with newborn kittens (under five weeks old, or still blind or deaf), leave them alone! Newborns that stay with their moms are more likely to survive.
  4. Bring the kitten to a qualified rescue shelter, where volunteers can care for it.
  5. IF you are planning on keeping or caring for the kitten yourself, your first stop should be a veterinarian’s office. Young kittens can have a myriad of disease, ticks or fleas or other conditions that should be addressed as soon as possible! (Here’s a quick primer on how to bottlefeed kittens.)

Spay and neuter your cats

Even if your cats are indoor only, make sure to get your kitties spayed and neutered. Many unwanted litters are the result of cat escapees who get out while in heat, meet a tomcat, and come home pregnant. These kittens often end up in shelters when the mama cat’s owner can’t find enough homes, or doesn’t have the time to care for them. If you have a tomcat who gets out, it’s important to remember that he could be mating with multiple females, therefore creating dozens, or even hundreds or kittens during kitten breeding season.

spay and neuter

Photo by Kote Puerto on Unsplash

Understanding the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) strategy

It sounds counterintuitive to return a cat to the streets, but adult, feral cats are actually well-equipped to living on their own, and – some argue – are unlikely to thrive in a home, because they essentially grew up wild. TNR programs, as practised in the US and parts of Europe, help reduce cat overpopulation, while allowing truly feral cats to stay where they feel best– outside.

Here’s how TNR works. First you put a humane cat trap in an area with lots of feral cats. Humane cat traps usually involve placing a treat into the cat, which lures the kitties in. When the cats step on a trigger, the cage door closes, keeping the cat safely inside. Once a cat is caught, they’re brought to a participating shelter or vet, who not only spays or neuters the animal, but also provides it will essential vaccinations. The cat is then returned to their home and released.

Often, TNR programs will tag cats using a technique called ear-tipping. During this process, about ¼ inch of the feral cat’s left ear is removed with a straight line cut. This doesn’t cause any health problems or hearing issues, and means cats who’ve already been through the program can easily be identified. Since the TNR process, while beneficial, can be quite stressful for the cat, this means that you can confidently release any ear-tipped cat you accidentally catch, without making them visit the vet again.

Interested in getting involved? Check out what CatRescue 901 has to say about TNR programmes in Australia here, and a study about ‘Trap-Neuter-Return Activities in Urban Stray Cat Colonies in Australia’ here.

Be sure to fully understand if TNR is allowed in your area or not, because different councils may approach it differently. 

 

Adopt, don’t shop!

By now, it should be clear that Kitten Season is a big problem that animal rescuers fight every year. It also means that from spring to autumn, there are TONS of young kittens in shelters waiting to find homes. So instead of getting a kitty at a pet store, adopt a cat instead. You’ll help get one more kitten off the street, and make room for rescuers to help other animals.

In Conclusion

After learning all these kitten season facts,  you’re now an expert on kitten season! You’ve learned:

  • That kitten season lasts from spring to autumn
  • That cats are expert breeders, and can produce thousands of kittens annually
  • What to do if you find a kitten or kittens, alone or with their mother
  • The importance of spaying and neutering your own cats
  • What TNR programmes are and how to get involved

We hope this article has inspired you to get out and help animal rescuers save and protect our cats and kittens. With your help, maybe we can change Kitten Season from being a time of overpopulation, to a time when we really can all just sit and cuddle kittens.

Puppy's first year firsts

Puppy’s first year firsts

Now that you have a little bundle of joy (with sharp teeth, and a curious appetite for trouble!), you’re most likely going to ask yourself, what now? What do first time puppy parents do with their brand new dog? Is it hungry? Should I train her/him now to jump, fetch or sit? Does it need Read More...

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Now that you have a little bundle of joy (with sharp teeth, and a curious appetite for trouble!), you’re most likely going to ask yourself, what now? What do first time puppy parents do with their brand new dog? Is it hungry? Should I train her/him now to jump, fetch or sit? Does it need a walk? Is it too early for socialising?

If you are a first-time dog owner and have these and many more puppy related questions, you’ve come to the right place.

The first thing to do once you realise just how much a new dog can turn life upside down is to take a deep breath. As fun and exciting as it might be, bringing home a puppy can be overwhelming considering all your new pet owner responsibilities. However, this shouldn’t deter you. All you need is a little know-how, some planning and boom! it’s time to start your puppy parent honeymoon phase (which, if we do everything right, never really ends!).

Here’s a step-by-step guide of what you need to do during your puppy’s entire first year. But before we get right to the major milestones over the next twelve months, let’s take a quick look at:

  • your new pup’s daily schedule
  • how best to puppy proof your home
  • the all-essential puppy survival kit

Puppy schedule

Read: lose a little sleep now to get a lot snuggles in bed later! Right off the bat, the first thing you’ll need is a well established puppy schedule. Puppies, in general, thrive in an organised environment. Therefore, it is important to have a schedule in place as soon as they arrive. So what does a typical puppy schedule contain? Well, in essence, your puppy schedule details everything to do with pet care. It would include things like meal times, potty breaks as well as bedtime and wake-up time.

Ensuring that there is a routine or a schedule helps your puppy settle into its new environment. It also speeds up your new dog’s housetraining. When creating meal times for your pup, ensure you factor in age and change it accordingly.

Puppy proof your home

Now’s the best time to get rid of all those loose cables that have plagued you for years. Puppy proofing your home is important for any first-time pet owner. This is crucial no matter how big or small your dog is. When young, puppies love chewing just about anything – rugs, coffee table edges, wires, chargers, shoes, books, adapters, lamps – if it’s within reach, it’s good for teething puppies. It’s a rare pup that doesn’t destroy everything below knee-level.

Avoid unexpected shopping trips to revamp your home decor and wardrobe by simply removing anything dangerous or valuable out of your little shark’s way. And if it’s something you can’t remove, then consider deterrent sprays sold at any pet store. Combine this with limiting your dog’s access to areas where you can easily monitor it at all times. Relax your vigilance only once your pup’s stopped exploring the house teeth first.

Puppy survival kit

Every new pup parent mistakes a puppy survival kit to be a quick trip to the pet store for a couple of toys, a ball (not all pups take to balls from day one!), food and water bowls, a bed and food. But any seasoned dog parent will tell you that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The overall strategy behind what goes into a puppy starter kit is – everything your puppy (and you) will need to feel comfortable. This approach introduces more items such as travel crates, pee pads, stain removers, wet food for upset tummy days, chewies and kongs, car seats, seat belts, different types of harnesses and leashes by activity and a whole lot more.

Don’t know where to begin? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our handy puppy starter kit to stock up on everything you’ll need.

Now that you have your puppy essentials, it’s time to understand how your puppy is going to develop. This includes both physical and social development. While having a read of these guidelines, keep in mind that they are generalised. If your puppy’s behaviour doesn’t fit the timeframe of the puppy care stages below don’t get stressed, different puppies tend to develop at a different pace. Be sure to keep your vet in the loop if you have any questions about age-appropriate nutrition and exercise.

Three to five weeks of age: your pup’s early stages

stage 1

Photo by Lydia Torrey on Unsplash


Most pet parents, especially those who adopt from shelters will never have a pup at home, away from its mum and siblings, at this stage. However, if you do somehow find yourself in charge of an orphaned pup or one that needs to be separated from other dogs in a shelter due to health or any other reasons, then here’s what lies ahead.


This is a very important stage for any puppy. It is during this time that your puppies will start to open their eyes for the first time (usually between the second and fourth week). It’s also during this time that they are likely to break out their baby teeth and develop a sharp sense of smell and hearing. If you are tasked with taking care of a pup when it’s on its early stages like two weeks, it is advised you limit human contact and interaction (via: College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences).

This is a time when puppies are influenced most by their mom and surrounding littermates. If you would really like to see your pup at this stage, it is advised to view it from a distance as much as possible. Once it is 3 or 4 weeks old, you can now consider interacting with it from time to time. In fact, this period is known as the exposure period. Get to take your dog on small trips and let it see and learn new things.

Never hesitate to seek help during this stage. It’s a very crucial part of your puppies’ development. If you do it right, you are on the right path to having a healthy, playful happy pup; do it wrong and you’ll end up making the next 12 months a lot harder.

Five to seven weeks of age: your pup is learning how to be a dog

This is a very special moment for any pet dog owner. It’s during this period that your puppy will start learning how to be a dog. Her brain will have a lot going on and her body will experience a number of positive developments. For instance, it’s during this time that she will start gaining physical coordination. You are also likely to hear her producing cute tiny barks while playing around with her littermates. In terms of human interaction, this is a nice time to get to know your little puppy. Despite it still being early, it’s a perfect time as she’s beginning to learn different social and play skills.

You could also start potty training your puppy during this stage. However, keep in mind that your pup is still quite small and can’t hold her bladder for too long. Don’t be harsh or expect quick learning. Expect a lot of accidents. Here’s a quick guide to potty training for new pet folks.

Week seven (near the end) is a perfect time to start thinking about visiting the veterinarian office. Get talking about vaccinations, dietary requirements and a healthcare schedule for the next 12 months. Here is a link to a pup’s basic vaccination schedule. For a complete list of vaccines for your dog, visit akc.org.

Seven to nine weeks of age: your puppy starts to know how to behave

Usually a stage for much frolicking and exploration, this is when your pup becomes curious about her surroundings. This is also a period when your puppy’s brain starts to develop and she starts developing a sense of how to behave around you and is more open to bonding with humans.

This is a good time to decide on when to get your dog desexed. Typically, puppies are usually spayed or neutered between nine to 24 weeks, depending on health, size, environment and any complications – as advised by a vet. Get the right professional advice and stick to it. Remember: your pup will need your undivided attention for at least a couple of weeks right after surgery so plan your work and household routine around your vet’s recommended desexing date.

This is also a period when your pup is open to socialising with other people so feel free to – gently – introduce her to friends and family, taking care to advocate for her by asking everyone not to scare, startle or smother her as she learns to trust and interact with other humans. Avoid over-stimulation or over-handling by strangers or people your dog isn’t very familiar with, as any reactions to such instances can have lasting effects on your puppy’s temparament. Encourage friends and family to respect your dog’s space and educate them on how they can win her trust by not invading her space by constantly picking her up or startling her.

You should also consider introducing her to environments other than your home. Be sensitive to her reactions as you help her navigate her reactions to these new surroundings – especially if she’s had a traumatic experience as a rescue pup. For a complete list of things you can can expose your puppy to, check out the ASPCA’s puppy socialisation checklist.  

Nine to 12 weeks of age: your puppy might start pushing boundaries

During this stage, it’s not uncommon to find puppies acting naughty. In most cases, they tend to do this in an attempt to establish their dominance in your home’s hierarchy. This is not something that is unique to your pup alone. In fact, it’s a very common occurrence with puppies during this stage as detailed here by Drs. Foster & Smith. And when your pup isn’t asserting her dominance, she’ll be easing her teething pains by rubbing and grabbing interesting textures into her mouth. Invest in some toys suited for teething pups and try not to substitute these with random toys from the pet store. Teething toys, chewies and stimulants ease your dog’s teething discomfort. Giving her something inappropriate or poor quality will make her more restless and assertive.

You’ll also notice your puppy’s involvement with the environment growing. This is something you should expect to continue over the next couple of years. This is also when puppies begin to learn acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. Keep in mind that this is usually the stage at which your pup leaves her litter-mates to come live with you. She will expect you to give her all your attention, because as far as she’s concerned (and quite literally) – you have no other job.

Naughty puppy

13 to 16 weeks of age: your pup becomes more independent

For puppies, this is usually a stage of full blown teething discoveries, oral fixations and exploring the world through their mouths. You can tell if your pup is in teething overdrive by simply observing her behaviour. If she’s constantly chewing things in the house, then you have your sign. This is when your initial phase of puppy proofing really comes in handy. Your puppy might also lose some interest in you. You’ll find that she no longer wants your constant attention. This is normal, as your new friend discovers that the world is bigger than her snuggles with you. In fact, most pup parents can expect this aloof stage to pass as suddenly as it starts.

By now, across these five stages of new puppy care, your dog has learned to socialise, has her vaccination and desexing schedule, met neighbourhood dogs and humans, and understood – kinda sorta – what is expected of her for loo breaks and sleeping schedules. Fail to handle this stage correctly and your puppy might end up confused, weary or anxious.  For instance, it might have socialization problems that’ll lead to it being aggressive towards unfamiliar people. Your work is especially cut out if you decided to share your home and heart with a rescue shelter pup – who’ll need to go through a deep phase of unlearning before developing good habits. The best thing for you to do here is to be patient, understand that this is just a phase and give her every reason to trust you as her primary caregiver.

As already mentioned in the beginning, your puppy might experience some of these stages differently and at different times. Stay vigilant and only raise an alarm if you observe something terribly out of the ordinary or not at all. Your vet, pet-sitter and if needed – dog trainer, are going to become your best friends over the next 12 months!

In conclusion

At six months, your puppy might appear all grown up but she still has a long way to go. In fact, dogs are considered adults only when they reach 18 months of age. So you have a fair bit of work ahead of you. But don’t worry, because you’ve already completed the hardest part – you’ve made the commitment! Now it’s time to truly bond with your puppy, and remember – dogs are not dispensable. Your pup is not ‘on trial’. She’s here to stay, so it’s in everyone’s interest to make this phase as regimented and fulfilling as possible. Good luck!

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