Archive | April, 2014

Pros, Cons and Managing Behavior in a Multi-Pet Home

dogs running in grass

Most people I know in Northern Colorado have more than one pet, including me. Although I started out with one cat, I had the fun task of melding critter families once I moved in with my boyfriend four years ago. While It wasn’t easy getting two older cats to become step-brothers, they have created a relationship that works (aside from a scuffle now and again).

Reflecting on their progress as “bros” got me a bit curious about what was common in homes nationwide. Turns out multi-pet households have been on the rise across the United States over the last two years.

According to the National Pet Owners Survey survey funded by the non-profit American Pet Products Association (APPA), “multiple pet ownership is at an all-time high with 44 percent of pet owning households in the U.S. owning more than one pet. That’s up from 42 percent of households in 2010. The most popular combination of pets includes dogs and cats.”

Is this earth shattering in any way? Not really, but it does indicate an interesting dynamic. More people have to effectively manage multiple pet personalities within one home.

First, let’s look at the pros and cons of having multiple pets:

Pros of Multiple Pets

  • Extra snuggly companionship for you
  • Animals benefit from having a companion when you aren’t home
  • Pets are less likely to be bored and play with each other, leaving their paws off your stuff
  • Socialization – my cat Bruiser has taught my cat Monty a thing or two about confidence and sticking up for himself

Cons of Multiple Pets

  • If pets don’t get along and you bypass formal training, they may destroy the house
  • Some pets may never get along, and it’s hard to decide which pet stays or is re-homed
  • A bit more mess – more fur to vacuum, litter to scoop, dog poop to pick up
  • Higher cost for the vet and food, especially if there are diet restrictions

Tips and Smoothing Out the Kinks of Blended Pet Families

It’s a pretty balanced list! So the real trick is in “family management.” There are simple things you can do to make an educated, supportive choice for your pet family:

  • Seriously consider gender and breed choice before getting a pet
  • Let your pet help when choosing a new family member
  • Know pets’ limits and tolerance levels
  • Position yourself as the boss first before inviting in new dogs
  • Give each animal special time alone with you

I also talked with Ameila Wieber, dog and cat behavior consultant, CPDT – KA and owner of Caring Behavior to see what she felt pet owners should look out for when expanding the family with a new dog or cat.

Tips for Managing Dog Behavior and Adding a New Pet

“First of all, make sure pets are spayed and neutered. Then match up pets of the opposite sex. So, if you have a male, get a female,” says Weiber. “Males tend to respect females more and each sex has a different role in the pack.”

“When you get two males, they can be more territorial, aggressive and will play loudly – but it’s mostly for show. Two neutered males can get along well, especially if one is “the boss” and the new dog is a puppy. Otherwise two males tend to be a bit more aggressive.”

two dogs playing

“Two females, can be aggressive towards each other, (especially in tact ones) because they are trying to fill the same role of the reproducer. You need to watch them closely because they fight more quietly than males and usually fight to cause serious harm,” adds Wieber.

“It also helps to feed the dogs separately in the home. Avoid having toys on the ground, give them their own toys separately or under your supervision.”

It’s also important to see if your dog is a barker or a chaser, and be sure to get a good sense of their overall temperament before choosing another pet. Weiber suggests reviewing who is running the show and pick the sex and age based on that animal. Early socialization is very important so your dog knows what is allowed and another dog doesn’t “untrain” the dog you already have.

“You can also do test runs with friends and their dogs to see what kind of breed and personality would work well with your pet. Dogs should be relaxed together – no high tails, relaxed body posture, relaxed ears, low wagging tails. It’s important to check these “readings” during a meeting, and plan to connect on neutral territory like a park with people both dogs know,” says Wieber. “Overall, older dogs are more forgiving with puppies.”

Cat Behavior and Adding Kittens

Cats have the same opposite sex issues as dogs, but if the animals are all fixed, it’s more about matching the personalities. If one is a tough guy and the other isn’t a challenger (like my two males) then it can work out just fine.

“Cats are not very social, so even if they don’t get along they can at least avoid. That’s why cat trees, separate food bowls and litter can help, because sharing is definitely not a cat quality,” says Wieber.


cats plyaing

“When introducing cats, start by offering a separate area to get the new one comfy in their own room or section in the house and slowly integrate the two cats or cat and dog. This way there is a safe zone for the pet to get away. Older cats are also more forgiving with kittens.”

Shared objects between cats also can help with connecting pets. “Switch up scratching posts periodically so they get used to the other cat’s scent,” adds Wieber.

“If you are mixing a cat and a dog within a home, it very important to look into the breed first. Terriers, hounds, dachshunds and greyhounds are trained to chase and lock in. So if your dog is a chaser, a cat may not be a good idea. It might just force the cat to scratch to defend itself.” says Wieber.

The most important thing to remember is that you are considered a “resource” for your pets. You give affection, food and security so if they feel they are losing a resource, they may start to guard you – which can cause problems. So just be mindful of making sure all pets feel loved! And the little bit of extra work to balance pros, cons and behavior is worth it if you really love animals and want a healthy, happy home.

cat sleeping on dog

How do you manage things in your multi-pet home?

Photo credit, header photo: Francisco Marquez

Fort Collins Critter Events April 25th – May 2nd

Asuka the adoptable cat

It’s a big music weekend in town featuring FoCoMX, which means lots of foot traffic in Old Town. Be sure doggies feel OK about being around lots of people and stay fed and watered! This week’s featured adoptable is Asuka. She’s a 6 month old female short hair dilute calico. She’s house trained, spayed and current on her shots. Just look at that sweet face and the spot on Asuka’s nose. Adorable! You can adopt her at the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic.

Saturday,  April 26th 

11th Annual Fast and Furriest 5K run/Walk

When: 9 a.m.

Where: Colorado State University’s Oval

The race will feature chip timing on a certified course, doggie demos, awards, and giveaways. There will also be a 1K fun-run for children featuring music and face painting. Proceeds raised will support the Companion Care Fund, which helps community members with financial needs to pay for procedures performed at the CSU Vet Teaching Hospital and by the Professional Veterinary Medicine of Biomedical Sciences at CSU. A small amount of the funds go to the Class of 2015 and 2017 scholarship fund.

The Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic Staff Training and Loveland Adoption Event

All locations will be closed for a staff training day. Volunteer adoption counselors will have kittens up for adoption at a Loveland location during a yard sale fundraiser for People for Underprivileged Pets.

When: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: Home State Bank in Loveland, 300 E. 29th St. branch

Sunday, April 27th 

Rocky Mountain Raptor Program will be at the Food Co-op Earth Day event at Mountain Avenue and Old Town Square featuring some of the raptors. Rain or shine!

Thursday, May 1st 

Early bird deadline ends for the Run Fur Fun 5K for Animal House Rescue and Grooming. For more details on the event, check out the website. The race takes place on May 18th.

Save the Date: 

Saturday, May 3rd 

Fort Collins Cat Resuce & Spay/Neuter Clinic and New Clinic Hours 

The pet spay/neuter clinic will now be open for surgery every other Saturday. This is great news for people who are unable to take their pets for these procedures on a weekday. CALL 970-484-1861 to make an appointment. DOGS & CATS, as young as 8 weeks old (depending on weight). Upcoming open dates are as follows: Saturday: May 3, 17 & 31.

Volunteer Training for Rocky Mountain Raptor Program 

When: 10 a.m. – 11:15

Where: 720 East Vine Drive

Cost: Free





Luxury Care for Pets in Fort Collins: Four Paws Pet Hotel and Resort


Four Paws Pet Hotel and Resort is one of the newest pet boarding facilities in Fort Collins and it’s definitely one-of-a-kind. Located on South College as part of the Pet Wellness Clinic, Four Paws draws on the benefits of sharing key services across the two facilities to offer a level of pet care that spans health and wellness to luxury care.

Personally, I wanted to talk with co-owner and Veterinarian Dr. Brenda McClelland about Four Paws because it definitely raises the bar in terms of what pet owners can expect in a quality boarding facility, not to mention a pet hotel sounds so cool! She co-owns Four Paws with her husband and fellow vet,  Dr. Mike Jewell.


During the tour the first thing that popped into my mind is that Four Paws isn’t just a place to leave your pet while you take a vacation – it’s where you take your pets FOR a vacation.

The idea behind Four Paws is to mimic exactly what people get when they check into a hotel except the focus is on luxury for pets. McClelland said she wants pets to have what’s important to them and their owners, including comfortable lodging with a range of sizes, luxury grooming, privacy, day care, and specialized, hands-on handling that includes an itinerary unique for the needs of each pet guest.


One of the luxury options for pet guests, full grooming.

Four Paws Pet Services and Accommodations

When McClelland first got the idea for Four Paws, she made sure she did a good amount of research before jumping into business.

“I called and talked to other pet hotel owners in California, Florida and New York to see what they were offering at their facilities. Their insight was so helpful in planning Four Paws and making some of the big decisions about how we wanted to set things up,” says McClelland. “I also paid close attention to what my vet clients wanted in a boarding facility. Every person I talked to wanted 24 hour care, so that was first priority.”

cat boarding

Collection of cat rooms for boarding including a cat playroom in the center.


private cat boarding

Here is a view of a private cat boarding room, complete with private camera access.

Four Paws has someone on staff round-the-clock. That’s unheard of at any other boarding facility in the area. The hotel also has public access and private access cameras. Public access cameras are in doggie daycare, outside in the yard and in the main cat boarding room and can be viewed directly from the website. Private web camera access is available for an extra $5 per room so you can check on your pet at any time, day or night.


Holding room for pets arriving for hotel or doggie daycare.

As a vet, McClelland is also very aware of what animals need when they first arrive in a strange place. There is a designated holding area for any pets attending daycare or checking into the hotel, allowing for a bit of extra time to settle down before heading to daycare or their accommodations.

To help make things easier for injured or senior dogs, Four Paws has a motorized lift. This enables animals to travel easily and painlessly get to their room or daycare.


Motorized lift for injured or senior dogs.

Now let’s talk details on the dog accomodations! Four Paws offers shared rooms for animal families as well as private rooms. There are a range sizes available with scaled pricing – just like a human hotel. Each room has a bed that will host your pet in sheer comfort.

dog boarding, private rooms

One set of private dog hotel rooms.


dog bed, dog boarding

One of the dog beds available in a hotel room.

There are three sizes for dog rooms:

Standard: 25 X 30 square feet
Executive: 35 X 40 square feet
Presidential: 50 X 60 square feet

Rooms can be shared via a removable pet door for even more space.

There’s also a designated “flow sheet” kept in the mailbox outside of each private room and includes details like the pet’s name, food requests, exercises requests, required walk times, medications, favorite toys or any other special requests. Medication distribution is part of the flat rate charged for boarding, not an extra cost.

This is where the flow sheet for a pet is kept, tracking persona information, preferences and special treats.

This is where the flow sheet is kept, tracking personal information, preferences, medications or special treat add-ons.


More Little Extras that Set Four Paws Apart

It’s hard to believe, but there are even more extras!

Light, relaxing music plays all day-long in the facility and lights out is at 11 p.m. sharp. Owners can check in or check out pets at any time as there is always someone on staff.

Pets receive a treat on their pillow (similar to what we be a mint for humans) that’s healthy and locally sourced. You can request a “frozen special treat” as part of your boarding package and it will be added to the pet’s flow sheet.

If your pet is not feeling well, there is also a designated isolation area so they can recover in peace, quiet and luxury.

wall decoration in four paws

There are so many little touches!

And of course the most important part of Four Paws is the 24-hour surveillance monitored away from the pet rooms so they won’t be disturbed.

pet cameras

Staff can view all the feeds around the hotel.

Future Plans for Four Paws

“There are still some things we would like to add to Four Paws,” says McClelland, “including a doggie pool and a private area for small dogs complete with condos and a small dog daycare. We are also working on a VIP program for frequent guests,” says McClelland. “Plans are currently in the works to host private Skype calls between pets and owners.”

I think the best part for pet owners interested in using Four Paws is the availability of important services like vet care, urgent care and boarding, all in one location. Four Paws is very service oriented, and wants to make things as easy as possible for owners and pets while offering animals an experience of luxury.

Pricing starts at $20 per night for cats and $40 for dogs, with discounts for multiple pets. Other services are also discounted while your pet is boarding, including daycare, hotel baths and more. The staff can provide more detailed information on pricing based on your unique needs.

So would you leave your pets in luxury? Or would you be jealous?

sleeping dogs

Two guests, fast asleep.

Fort Collins Critter Events for April 18th – 25th



Woo hoo! The weather is finally shaping in Fort Collins! That means plenty of sunshine for your weekend and hanging outdoors with your pets. With the upcoming Easter holiday fast approaching, I thought I would share a picture of sweet little bunnies that are NOT adoptable. I want to remind everyone that a rabbit is not “holiday-only” kind of pet. Please only adopt one if you are prepared to care for it at least 10 years (the average life span).

OK, PSA over! Now onto this weekend’s events:

Saturday, April 19th

Colorado State University Vet Teaching Hospital Community Goat Symposium

If you’re a backyard goat farmer, plan to attend CSU’s first Community Goat Symposium on April 19. Gain vital information about goat health, husbandry and licensing requirements for city ownership. Presentations will be equally useful for larger and established goat farmers. The symposium is free and open to the public; it will be in the CSU Diagnostic Medicine Center.  The event is sponsored by the CSU student chapter of the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners! Additional information on the event is available here.

When: 8 a.m  – 4 p.m.

Where: CSU Diagnostic Medicine Center 

Low Cost Vaccine Clinic at Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic 

Vaccines including rabies are available for $15 each at our low-cost vaccine clinic!

When: 9 – 3 p.m.

Where: Main shelter, 2321 E Mulberry Street Fort Collins, CO 80524

There is an additional clinic on Tuesday, April 22nd, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but it’s appointment only.

Animal House Rescue & Grooming Anniversary Day at Snooze – the get 20% of sales! 

When: 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

144 W Mountain Ave Fort Collins, CO 80524

In addition, you can catch some adoptable dogs from Animal House featured at Natural Pet Market Place.

When: 12 -3 p.m.

Where: Natural Pet Market Place located at 2721 Council Tree Avenue, Suite 113. Ft. Collins, CO 80525

Thursday, April 24th

Foster Training for the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic 

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Main shelter, 2321 E Mulberry Street Fort Collins, CO 80524

Friday, April 25th

Today is the last day of early bird registration for the 24th Annual Fire Hydrant 5, 5K Walk/Run & Pet Expo at Edora Park hosted by Larimer Humane Society! The event is May 31st, but if you register by April 25th, it’s only $25. This is a great, family-friendly event you can enjoy with your pet! More information available on the LHS website.

Knowing When Hospice Care is Right for your Pet


Welcoming a new pet into your life is easy. Saying goodbye to a pet is truly heartbreaking, especially when you are the one deciding when they make the final transition. For owners, struggling to find the “right” answer can be even more painful than watching your pet suffer, so what is the best way to handle such a tough choice?

There is no right or wrong way, but there is an educated way – and that can make all the difference.

Making Tough Choices About a Sick Pet

No matter how much information and support you have as a pet owner, the decision to euthanize is always a tough one. Pet parents often struggle with the “right time” to let them go, especially if the animal is in a tremendous amount of pain.

“If you have to make some tough choices about a terminally ill or injured pet, it can help to consult with a vet or someone who specializes in hospice or palliative care for pets,” says Dr. Kathleen Cooney, DVM and Owner of Home to Heaven, in-home pet hospice and euthanasia services. “A consult can be so powerful. It helps owners feel calmer, relax about the process, and release fear around what’s to come.”

Aside from being very emotionally invested in the welfare of their pet, Cooney points out that pet owners can sometimes misread fluctuations in the animal’s condition or misinterpret what’s really going on medically. This misunderstanding can make pet owners uneasy, wondering if transition time is close. That’s why she suggests it’s best to have a vet help assess the situation.

“At Home to Heaven, we view euthanasia as relief and death as a side effect. It’s such a personal choice for a pet owner to make, and we want to offer people all the information and support they need to choose what’s best for their pet,” says Cooney. “Educating the family about what is normal or abnormal is one of the most important things we do. The more information a pet owner has, the better decisions they can make.”

“Home to Heaven has vets on call 24 hours a day so clients can call when the moment is close, and we can come to the home and assess the situation thoroughly and with respect,” adds Cooney.

What Pet Owners Need to Know to Prepare for Hospice or Euthanasia

With such a big decision to make and lots of variables to consider, it can help to have a general list of things to think about when considering hospice care for your pet. I’ve listed some key ones here:

What kind of diseases or conditions warrant hospice and/or palliative care?

According to International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, the following conditions often lead to the need for more advanced support:

  • Cancer
  • Organ failure [kidneys, liver and heart are common examples]
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cognitive dysfunction, or dementia
  • Senior pets approaching the end of life
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Any life-limiting condition that is contributing to an excessive burden of caregiving for a family, or treatments/interventions that are unacceptable to the pet

Make plans about how you want to handle a pet’s health situation before a crisis.

When there is a clear plan in place, you can spend time focusing on bonding with your pet, no matter what life brings. If your pet is suddenly facing a life-threatening injury, there’s not a lot of time to make decisions so having a plan in place can really help. Even when diagnosed with a terminal illness, some pets still don’t have a large life window, so a clear plan helps shift focus to the time they have left.

Make sure the family agrees on what needs to be done.

Plans about how you want to help a pet transition are a family decision that should be discussed and shared. Each member of the family has a different connection to the pet, and all opinions should be considered.

Double check medications and doses.

Sometimes the medication dose is insufficient. In fact, it’s a pretty common issue. With some cases, medical conditions can radically improve after an adjustment in medication, and the pet can live for many more months.

A peaceful, natural death still needs to be supported by a vet.

Pain control, management of infections, hygiene and other issues need to be closely monitored to ensure a pain free, peaceful passing.

Why At Home Care is So Powerful

The end of life for a pet is very personal and emotional. The animal has grown with you, shared wonderful memories and is such a large part of your life.

“The focus for Home to Heaven is to provide pet owners with the emotional and medical support they need to help pets through a peaceful transition, while giving them to opportunity to reflect on life with their pet in the comfort of their own home, says Cooney. “Each vet on staff is there to help with the medical assistance necessary, however, we also want to hear the story of your pet’s life and the joy you’ve shared. This is the personal support we truly enjoy providing through at home hospice care.”

If you aren’t sure about how to read some of the signs and symptoms that indicate when your pet is close to passing, check out more detailed information on the Home to Heaven site. Want more information on peaceful, end-of-life care, visit the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care  or look into additional providers in other states.

Photo credit: Talishu