Foster-Adopting a Pet

Just like children need the comfort and help a foster home offers until a permanent home can be found, pets can also benefit from fostering. Many rescue groups are looking for good pet families that are willing to foster a pet and save it from being euthanized.

Adopting a pet, even if temporary, is a great way to keep pets from overcrowding shelters and to improve their socialization skills. A more socialized and well-behaved pet is much easier to adopt, and once adopted permanently, more likely to remain in the household.

Pets in shelters are under more stress than when with a private family where they can be trained, socialized and taught proper manners. My own dogs and cats are so used to foster pets coming and going in our household, they accept them readily. We foster dogs to help them find just the right home. Here are some tips for foster adoption:

If you have pets, always introduce the foster dog or cat in neutral territory and allow them to get used to each other slowly. DO NOT simply bring them home and have them meet the “clan” as I call it. This is simply too stressful and may lead to fighting and long term intimidation. Cats may require longer introduction and socialization periods.

Do not shower the foster adoption with affection, because it may cause a problem when the normal household routine and interaction return.
Be patient – ensure a slow introduction where both the regular pets and the foster pet are able to interact without fear or intimidation. It might be hours or days, but very seldom a few minutes (as most introductions are performed.)

Work with the foster pet on leash training, obedience, basic commands and utilize gentling techniques as presented by Dr. Tripp on this site. Never use physical punishment.

Be certain the foster pet was vaccinated for all the normal contagious diseases that can be prevented and checked for parasites. You do not want to bring a contagious disease or internal or external parasites to your own pets.

Review the veterinary exam for any special health problems.
Be happy when the “right home” is found and spend some time with the new owner on the foster pet’s personality, behavior and needs.

Establishing House Rules for Newly Adopted Adult Dogs

Set house rules from the first day and be consistent. Not being consistent confuses them and only leads to bad results and frustration.

Only greet when they sit. Do not greet or allow jumping on people.
Only allow or not allow on certain pieces of furniture with no exceptions.

They must request permission to exit the house by sitting or waiting before actually exiting.

They must allow any amount of gentle stroking on any part of the body.
Submitted by Dr. Rolan Tripp of the Animal Behavior Network. Visit www.animalbehavior.net to learn more.

How Dangerous is the Dog Flu Virus?

Not long ago, avian flu made international headlines. More recently, swine flu became a major concern. But have you heard of the dog flu? Unlike the avian or swine viruses, this dog virus does not attack people—it’s out to get man’s best friend.

How serious is the Dog flu virus? Could it kill your pet? Yes, there have been some fatalities associated with the dog virus (technically called the H3N8 Canine flu) but they are relatively few.

Should you be concerned about it? Maybe not. It is a particular threat to certain dogs—those with pug-like snouts, including Bulldog, Pekingese, and Shi-Tzu—because it makes it hard for the dogs to breathe.

And although it is described as “highly contagious,” mostly spreading through dog-to-dog contact in kennels and animal shelters, it’s become a serious issue in just a few areas of the country, including Florida, Philadelphia, Denver, and the Northern suburbs of New York City.

But a new vaccine could offer hope to pets at risk from the dog flu virus. According to Veterinary Practice News, just this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted a conditional license to Intervet/Schering-Plough for the first Canine Influenza Vaccine.

VPN says the vaccine, which must be administered by your veterinarian, has been “demonstrated to reduce the incidence and severity of lung lesions, as well as the duration of coughing…” If your dog is infected, the vaccine could also make them less contagious.

In a New York Times article, Dr. Cynda Crawford, credited with discovering the virus, explained that the dog flu virus is often mistaken for kennel cough. Both can cause coughing and gagging, but dogs with canine flu may also have high fevers and runny noses. “A few will develop pneumonia, and some of those cases will be fatal,” said Crawford, adding that antibiotics and fluids reduce the rate of fatality.

While Pets Best Insurance does not cover the Dog Flu Virus vaccine, if your veterinarian recommends it, we strongly urge you to follow the recommendation.

Adopted Pets Replacing Children

More and more people are replacing having children with pets. According to recent survey, more people are choosing not to have children. Many seniors who have raised families are finding that pets can replace that void that hits them after children leave the family. Studies have shown that pets decrease feelings of loneliness, help fight depression and keep seniors more active.

Who needs children when research has shown that certain hormones that increase when we cuddle children also increase when we cuddle our pets. The hormones Oxytocin and Prolactin increase when we play with or pet dogs, as shown from studies where blood samples were drawn prior to playing with a dog and afterwards. The hormones, which are high in pregnant and post birthing women, increased in the blood stream of men and women after petting a dog in one study and playing with a dog in another study. Both Oxytocin and Prolactin play a critical role in the birthing and bonding process of humans and all mammals.

These hormones are found to dampen stress, combat depression and reduce feelings of anxiety. So save a pet by adopting, and feel better in the process!

Animal shelters? No-kill shelters? Rescues?

So you’ve decided to adopt a dog or cat? Good for you! Each new adoption helps to curb the crisis of animal overpopulation in America.

But when it comes to pet adoption, where do you start? An animal shelter or no-kill shelter? A rescue organization? What’s the difference, anyway?

Let’s start with traditional animal shelters. Most communities have one, working on the front lines to fight the problem of animal overpopulation. Faced with an overwhelming number of homeless pets and a limited amount of space and resources, these shelters keep dogs and cats for a certain amount of time. Those that are not adopted are humanely euthanized, or “put to sleep.” Animals that are very old, seriously ill, or have behavior problems may be euthanized sooner than the healthy ones that have a better chance of being adopted.

As an alternative, no-kill rescue shelters do not euthanize. They may send dogs to foster homes to be raised and looked after until a permanent living situation can be found.

Both local animal shelters and no-kill rescue shelters take good care of the pets that end up there. They bathe, feed, and administer any medications the animals need until adoption. However, no-kill shelters often make sure that animals get love and human interaction, keeping them well socialized, while traditional shelters might not.

Animal rescue groups, also known as animal rescue organizations, usually specialize in a specific breed (such as Siamese cats or Greyhound dogs) or type of pet (such as toy dogs or hunting dogs). While these may be a great option for people who are set on a specific type of animal, don’t forget that you can find plenty of purebred animals in any shelter.

No matter what kind of shelter you choose, don’t assume that the animals are there because they are “bad.” The majority of shelter cats and dogs are there because of bad circumstances, whether their owners died, or had to move, or could not care for their pet anymore. But one thing is certain—with so many animals to choose from, you’ll be able to find a loving pet that will be perfect for you and your family.

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