Adoption Tips: Dogs

So, after months of prodding from your children or a move out of that pet-free apartment or even a sudden desire for a furry friend, you’ve decided that your home would be more complete with a dog. That’s wonderful; dogs, or any pet really, have been proven to raise morale (source: webmd.com) and even keep you healthier. Before you go and bring Fido home, however, there are a few things you have to make sure of.

Are you prepared for a new pet?
Before you go looking for your new best friend, make sure it isn’t just a decision you’re making on a whim; dogs are a lot of work, and are worth all of that work, but only if you’re in it for the long run. If you have other pets, make sure that they’ll be alright with a new addition to the family. A few things you’ll need for Fido before you bring him home are:
– a collar (fitted with license and identification tags as soon as you can)
– a leash
– food and water bowls
– food (dry kibble is a good start)
– a crate
– baby gates (if you have spaces you want to keep your new friend out of)
– toys
– dog bed (optional, depending on if you want Fido in your bed or not)

What type of dog are you looking for?
This is a very important question, because there are a lot of factors to look into if you’re looking for a specific breed, such as temperament around children if you have any, allergen risks, etc. If you don’t have a lot of space, such as if you live in an apartment, a big, active Great Dane probably isn’t the right choice for you. Some key factors to look into when deciding on a specific breed are as follows:
– temperament, such as energy level, protectiveness, and intelligence
– size
– cost (such as grooming)
– allergies that would prevent you from certain dog fur exposure
– health problems associated with specific breeds (such as hip dysplasia in golden retrievers)
– compatibility with children and/or other pets (based on your individual situation)

How can you adopt safely?
Shelters are always the best and first choice for pet adoptions, and many shelters have specific breeds rescued from puppy mills or otherwise unclaimed that would be perfect for your family. If you aren’t looking for a specific breed, shelters always have plenty of mutts or breeds you may just fall in love with. If you’ve gone to local shelters and just haven’t found the right dog to take home yet, you can always wait and check back at another time, or you can look into finding a reputable local breeder. Looking into petfinder.com is also a good option, but stay away from websites like Craig’s List and pet stores, where more often than not the dogs are coming from cruel puppy mills that you don’t want to help fund.

Pretty In Pink?

Oi! Kitty from Flickr User Katie@!

Oi! Kitty from Flickr User Katie@!

In a new craze that has been sweeping the US, pet owners all over have been dyeing their pets’ fur- from bubblegum pink to berry blue. This practice of dyeing pet fur has been commonplace in China for many years and is now catching like rainbow wildfire in the United States and Europe. This practice may be catchy, but is it really good for your pet?

Pretty in Pink? 2“I read the instructions on the bottle of food coloring and there was nothing to say that it was harmful to humans or animals. We eat the food the dye is used on, so I knew it wasn’t toxic,” said pink fanatic Natasha Gregory of the UK. Oi! Kitty, the feline victim, was lost for a few days, attracting the attention of concerned animal welfare officers, whom were convinced that Oi! Kitty’s pink panther dye job was part of a “sick prank,” leading to widespread media coverage to find the culprit. After seeing her cat on the news, Ms. Gregory contacted animal welfare officials in an attempt to get Oi! Kitty back. “She didn’t seem to mind and I think she looked lovely,” claimed the self-titled ‘animal lover’ about the dyeing of Oi! Kitty.  Oi! Kitty is currently being held by veterinarian Penny Gillespie, who strongly disagrees with the process of dyeing pets and has “branded the dyeing of the cat as ‘cruel’” according to Daily Mail (UK). Despite Gillespie’s efforts, the RSPCA has said to Gregory that getting Oi! Kitty back “shouldn’t be a problem.”

While multicolored pets can be fun and cute, dyes are never a good thing. “Hair dye is actually intended for human consumption only”, according to Ashley Bennet of Cesarsway.com. “There are no hair dyes specifically made for dogs.” Hair dyes can have negative effects on humans, which means they can be double trouble for Fido. Dog skin is very sensitive and can be harmed from the harsh chemicals in dyes, and can cause itching, discomfort, and rashes. Side effects range from vomiting and blindness to even death, which is never a good price to pay for color.
Another thing to remember is that dyeing human hair isn’t the same as dyeing dog or cat fur. A dog or cat must have his/her entire body dyed, and there’s a constant risk of the harmful fluid getting in their eyes, nose, ears, or mouth.  Anyone who has dyed their hair knows that it sometimes causes irritation and burning, and for a pet, it isn’t just their scalp that is burning; it’s their entire body.

To a pet, the dye can even cause emotional hurt, for pets don’t have understanding of beauty enhancement, so they can’t understand why this treatment is being done to them. Because of the nasty side effects, they may even associate the person treating them with dyes as mean, and no pet owner wants their pet to fear them.
In many states, dyeing the fur of animals is illegal, as it should be. Pets are beautiful enough; with coats ranging from golden blond to smoky black. Isn’t that enough?