Archive | October, 2013

Local Animal Events October 11th – 18th

Odellthedog

Remember, October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

This week’s featured adoptable dog is Odell! He’s a Jack Russell Terrier/Beagle Mix, and completely adorable. With a name like Odell, you know he’s a Colorado dog at heart. Check out more about him on the Larimer Humane Society site.

Here are some local events on tap for the next week. Keep an eye the Tails social media pages for new events added during the week.

Saturday October 12th

The 15th Annual Top Cat & Tails Gala benefiting the Larimer Humane Society with the theme “Catsino Royale” at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, CO. Silent auction, gourmet food and the chance to bond with adoptable animals. How fun! Check out more details about the event or visit the Larimer Humane Society site if you are interested in their adoptable animals.

1st Annual “Birds of Prey Soirée and Masquerade” Fundraiser

Historic Parkside Mansion in Denver, CO
Time: 6:30 – 10 p.m.
The fundraiser is hosted by Nature’s Educators to help with their mission to care for their nature ambassadors. Go join the party!

October 13th -19th

Hooray for National Wolf Awareness Week, a time when organizations around the country work together to get out information on this charismatic and often misunderstood species. Keep up with what’s going on at our local wolf sanctuary, W.O.L.F., located in Laporte, CO.

Wednesday October 16th

Buy some Chipotle and help raise funds for Front Collins Cat Rescue Spay and Neuter Clinic! Stop by the Chipolte location on Harmony and Timberline between 5 – 8 p.m. to help them raise some extra cash for all the displaced flood kitties that still need homes. Visit their website to download the flier to bring to Chipolte and get 50% off your order.

Save the Date:

October 19th Check out the Full Moon Hike in Lory State Park, which is also the last night hike of the year. Hunt for night creatures while traveling through the park by moonlight. More information on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife page. Fingers-crossed that the park is open and the government shut-down is over!

October 19 – 20th Get ready to get your adoption on! The Fort Collins Spay and Neuter is collaborating with Animal House Rescue & Grooming to host an ASPCA Mega Match-a-thon adoption event. Altogether there will be at least 75 adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens up for grabs! More details on the Fort Collins Cat Rescue Spay and Neuter Clinic website.

Changing a Cat’s Diet Takes a Combination of Patience and Trial and Error

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There comes a time in every cat’s life where they need to make better dietary choices, just like humans. As “their” human, it’s up to you to read the labels and do the research, which can sometimes lead to taking several trips to the pet store and lots of trial runs at new food. This is what happened in my house recently, and I’ve had a bit of a challenge in balancing my conscience with the health of my cat.

As a health-conscious person, I pay attention to what I put in my body, and with cats that are not getting any younger, I wanted to check in on the quality of the food they were eating, too. My vet recommended I use Iams when my cat, Monty, was a kitten, so I’ve stuck with that brand for years. I figured, if a vet recommended the brand, the food quality must be fine.

I have made some mini-attempts at switching to different, natural brands, but Bruiser, our orange tabby, would either significantly protest or become sick to his stomach. As a reformed mountain top cat from Evergreen, he’s used to eating mice and other critters, but has quite a sensitive belly when it comes to new foods. So, I would always go back to Iams because he would eat it without protest and it jived with his digestion. Luckily Monty will eat whatever brand I offer without an issue.

Diet Challenges with Aging Cats, Now That They’re Hooked on Carbs

Well, now that both cats are on the mature side, I’ve been feeding them Iams Mature Adult for cats 7 – 10 years old. Local pet food stores don’t carry it with any regularity, so I started visiting different stores to check out their inventory and once again read food labels of alternative brands.

When I stopped into a local healthy pet food store to ask if they carried Iams, the clerk there was a bit surprised, as a look of confusion crossed over her face. She responded, “Well, if you want to feed your cat cornmeal and filler, I can order it for you, but I recommend you switch to a healthier brand.”

OUCH!

I already feel guilty about my cat eating the “Kraft Mac & Cheese” version of pet food, but that really stung. It’s not like I hadn’t tried! So, I again attempted a new natural food brand recommended by a friend with an older cat. The results were the same over the three week transition period, except this time, Bruiser stopped eating altogether, aside from just wet food. Monty loves the dry food, so we couldn’t take it away entirely just yet. Hello square one, here we are again!

Brusierlikinglips

Bruiser does enjoy his wet food…

How to Introduce a New Menu to your Cat in a Healthy, Strategic Way

In terms of making the switch, I did all the things recommended by vets. I gradually mixed in the new food with the old food, increasing the new food by approximately 20-25% each day while decreasing the amount of the old food. I also mixed niblets of dry food into the wet food. The dry food was not down at all times, and I didn’t give in to kitty protests for feeding (as hard as they tried). The pet water fountain was also full and flowing with cool running water to entice them to drink (a necessity to promote kidney health).

In addition, I incorporated what I learned in my time volunteering at the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay and Neuter Clinic, where cats would get a small bowl of dry food with a pie sized piece of wet food, two to three times daily. The trick was making sure the amount of protein-rich food I fed my cats was high enough in protein and supported their size and weight– very important elements for any healthy cat diet and can be confirmed with a vet.

What I’ve Learned and Confirmed About Healthy and Unhealthy Cat Food

There are methods to make the cat food switch, but they require long-term commitment that can take from six months to a year before the change is fully successful with finicky cats. I also realized washing out the food bowl out with soap and water, even after switching back to the original food is important, as the “mixed” smell can still throw a cat off.

In addition, I learned more about cats and carbohydrates. According to veterinarian Dr. Becker, cats can crave foods high in fat and salt and become addicted to the shape and flavor of certain foods — and cat food manufacturers leverage these tendencies to create life-long customers. Cats can also become addicted to carbs quite easily, just like humans. So in essence, you are fighting an addiction while also trying to change the cat’s eating habits. That’s what makes food change process so challenging.

I also spend a lot more time reading labels. If you aren’t sure what ingredients in cat food are considered unhealthy, they include: by-products, animal digest, the word “meat” with no specificity on what type, corn, corn gluten, wheat gluten, or BHA or BHT. These additives do not provide the high-protein elements necessary to sufficiently nourish your cat.

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What’s Next?

So now I’m at a decision-making point. Keep trying different natural dry food options and possibly stress out my cat, or ditch dry food altogether? Do a combo of dry and canned wet food, then move towards a raw-food pet diet? There are options, but it’s going to be a bit of a long and winding road — paved with patience — before the diet transition is fully a success.

If you have suggestions and approaches that have worked for you in transitioning your cat’s diet– I would love to hear all about them. Please share!

Local Animal Events for October 4 – 11th

larimerhumanedog

Welcome to October, Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! If you’ve been on the fence about adopting a dog, why not do it this month?

This little lady is Katie the American Fox Hound, and she is available for adoption at the Larimer Humane Society.

Now onto upcoming events for the next week in Colorado. Have fun out there!

Saturday October 5th

Boulder Bird Club BBQ for Birds at Barr Lake

Event time: 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., 14500 Lark Bunting Lane, Brighton, CO.

Join the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s (RMBO) annual picnic as they mark their 25th anniversary at the Old Stone House on the shores of Barr Lake. There is a fee ($13 or less) to attend this event. For more information visit www.rmbo.org and look under the events tab.

Sunday October 6th

Artisan Fair at Laughing Buck Farm 

Event time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. , Laughing Buck Farm3724 North County Road 13 in Fort Collins, 80524

Free admission!

Here’s what’s going on:

  • Local Artisans sharing and demonstrating their work
  • Handcrafted lunch with ingredients from the farm
  • Urban homesteading demonstrations, including cider press, spoon carving
  • Live Music including Satori Drum and Dance,  Sharon Docherty and Bill DeMarco
  • Farm Fun for the kids — chickens, pigs and goats
  • Door prizes and give aways

The Larimer Humane Society closing early at 2:30 p.m. for an event. If you need assistance, call Animal Protection and Control at 970-226-3647.

Monday, October 7th

Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay and Neuter Clinic, Loveland

The Fort Collins Cat Rescue Spay and Neuter Clinic was able to secure a temporary satellite location in Loveland to manage all the kitties from the recent floods. This will help to make cats even more accessible to adopters.The new space is located at is Spring Hills Plaza at 617 E. Eisenhower Blvd. #16.

There are two volunteer orientations scheduled for Monday, Oct. 7 ~ at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Loveland location. Come learn about the opportunities available in cat care and cleaning, office work, and adoption counseling.

Wednesday, October 9th 

Raptors at the Library 

Event time: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Rocky Mountain Raptor Program is putting on a special event called “Raptors at the Library”, hosted at the Old Town Library , 201 Peterson Street Fort Collins, CO 80524

Save the Date:

October 12th: The 15th Annual Top Cat & Tails Gala benefiting the Larimer Humane Society. Tickets on sale now.

Zen and the Art of Puppy Potty Training

AustralianSheperd

Bringing a new puppy into your home is like having excitement, love, and some sleepless nights all rolled into one furry little package. While their cuteness makes up for the shoe that has now become a chew toy or the slobber on your bed pillow, it only puts a very minor dent in the frustration of puppy potty training.

Standard puppy potty training practices like crate training, rewards for going outside and scheduled round the clock outdoor visits are all great techniques that set up a solid routine for your puppy. The more consistent your reinforcement, the more it builds confidence in your puppy that they are doing what you expect. Yet, there are times, despite all your best efforts, indoor accidents continue and you aren’t sure why or what to do about it.

Puppy vs Human

If this sounds like what’s happening to you, here are some things to consider (while you are tearing your hair out).

This may seem obvious, but, a puppy has a very small bladder and simply does not have the muscle control of the bladder mastered quite yet. That means their water intake needs to be closely monitored, and they shouldn’t have water after a certain time in the evenings.

To combat accidents, wee wee pads can seem like a good idea, but might actually be undermining your puppy potty training efforts. According to Amelia Wieber, Professional Dog Trainer for Advanced Animal Care of Colorado in Fort Collins, “Puppy pads are usually a bad idea because it’s like you are encouraging the dog to go in the house. It can also create some confusion around permissions. If the puppy thinks peeing in the house is OK, then they might also think its OK to pee on a t-shirt on the floor, for example.”

“If your puppy happens to be using wee wee pads consistently right now, I suggest you move the pads outside with them as soon as possible to associate the need to use the pads with the need to go outside,” adds Wieber. If areas in the home already smells like urine, this could be another reason why a puppy would think going in the house is fine.

How you approach crate training is also very important. According to Wieber, dogs should only be in crates that allow them to stand up and turn around, but are still small enough so that they can’t eliminate  and still sit on the other end of the crate freely. A puppy shouldn’t be in crates for extended period of time. “As a general rule, it helps to take the current age of the dog by months and add one. That equals how many hours they can safely be left on their own in the crate,” adds Wieber.

Australian Shepherd Leash

Not Again!

So what do you do if there is already an established pattern of indoor accidents? Catch them in the act, even if it’s mid-stream, firmly say NO, and them get them outdoors quickly. Then, when they are finished, reward them. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), recommends clapping your hands a couple times to distract the puppy without startling them. The last thing you want is your puppy to associate fear with “taking care of business” in front of you.

The most important thing to remember when attempting to correct puppy potty behaviors is to try and keep your patience. If you relax your reactions and tone when outside with them after an indoor accident, the puppy will associate that as a positive reinforcement. “Catching them while it’s happening is the best opportunity for training,” says Wieber. “You also need to keep your eye on them every single minute to take advantage of training moments.”

Wieber also said that more active dog breeds, like Australian shepherds, require a lot of stimulation, exercise and a watchful eye, which means you have to be even more attentive while potty training.

According to the ASPCA  there are common puppy potty training myths that are actually very detrimental to the training process, and can strain the new relationship you are trying to create with your pet. It’s important to remember the dog is looking to you to lead them and it might take several repetitions before a clear bathroom time dynamic can be established.

Running Out of Answers

Medical conditions such as urinary tract infections can sometimes cause problems, and can be verified with a vet. Once they can test for the type of bacteria, then they can prescribe an antibiotic for proper treatment.

“If all the medical issues are ruled out you need to get the dog on a regular schedule and watch them every minute in between, including having them on a leash next to you all day long if necessary. If you are still having trouble with potty training, it might be time to contact a personal dog trainer to see what’s going on in the home routine and make a more specific assessment for next steps,” says Wieber.

It’s also important to check if peeing is really peeing. If a puppy is lifting their legs indoors, it’s not an act of elimination, but a way to make their mark, especially if there are other pets in the home.

Heads Up on Puppy Training No-No’s

Courtesy of the ASPCA, there are some things to make sure you aren’t doing while puppy potty training:

  • Do not rub your puppy’s nose in his waste.
  • Do not scold your dog for eliminating indoors.
  • Do not physically punish your puppy for accidents (hitting with newspaper, spanking, etc.). If your puppy has accidents in the house, you still have some gaps in supervision or reading the signals for the need to go outside.
  • Do not confine your puppy to a small area for hours each day, without doing anything else to correct the problem.
  • Do not crate your puppy if he’s soiling in the crate.
  • If your puppy enjoys being outside, don’t bring him inside right after he eliminates or he may learn to “hold it” so that he can stay outside longer.
  • Do not clean with an ammonia-based cleanser because urine contains ammonia. This could be attracting your puppy back to the same spot to urinate again. An enzymatic cleaner for indoor accidents is best.

What has worked for you? What tips can you share?