10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash

A retractable leash is not so much a leash as it is a length of thin cord wound around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle. The handles of most retractable leashes are designed to fit comfortably in a human hand. A button on the handle controls how much of the cord is extended.

Retractable leashes are popular primarily because they aren’t as confining as regular leashes, allowing dogs more freedom to sniff and poke around on walks. But unfortunately, there are many downsides to this type of leash.

10 Reasons Not to Use a Retractable Leash:

1: The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable leash is often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make uninvited contact with other dogs or people.

2: In the above scenario, or one in which your pet is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It’s much easier to regain control of – or protect — a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he’s 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string.

3: The thin cord of a retractable leash can break – especially when a powerful dog is on the other end of it. If a strong, good-sized dog takes off at full speed, the cord can snap. Not only can that put the dog and whatever he may be chasing in danger, but also the cord can snap back and injure the human at the other end.

4: If a dog walker gets tangled up in the cord of a retractable leash, or grabs it in an attempt to reel in their dog, it can result in burns, cuts, and even amputation. In addition, many people have been pulled right off their feet by a dog that reaches the end of the leash and keeps going. This can result in bruises, “road rash,” broken bones, and worse.

5: Dogs have also received terrible injuries as a result of the sudden jerk on their neck that occurs when they run out the leash, including neck wounds, lacerated trachea, and injuries to the spine.

6: Retractable leashes allow dogs more freedom to pull at the end of them, which can look like aggression to another dog who may decide to “fight back.”

7: The handles of retractable leashes are bulky and can be easily pulled out of human hands, resulting in a runaway dog.

8: Along those same lines, many dogs – especially fearful ones – are terrorized by the sound of a dropped retractable leash handle and may take off running, which is dangerous enough. To make matters worse, the object of the poor dog’s fear is then “chasing” her, and if the leash is retracting as she runs, the handle is gaining ground on her – she can’t escape it. Even if this scenario ultimately ends without physical harm to the dog (or anyone else), it can create lingering fear in the dog not only of leashes, but also of being walked.

9: Retractable leashes, like most retractable devices, have a tendency to malfunction over time, either refusing to extend, refusing to retract, or unspooling at will.

10: Retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven’t been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature, retractable train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.

Six Benefits of Fostering a Dog in Need

Looking for a way to help a dog in need? Do you love dogs, but aren’t quite ready for the lifelong commitment of ownership? Interested in forming a relationship with your local shelter? Fostering might be the perfect answer for you.

What exactly does fostering mean? It means bringing a homeless dog into your home, caring for them, providing them with affection and socialization, until a permanent family comes along who will love them forever.

The benefits of fostering are numerous, and not only a wonderful thing for the dog and shelter or rescue, but can be beneficial to the one doing the fostering in so many ways!

1. FOSTERING SAVES LIVES:

Many times rescues who have no central facility, rely solely on foster homes to determine how many dogs they can pull from county shelters, who may be long term residents and/or at risk of euthanasia due to overcrowding. Shelters also rely on fosters to provide a change of environment for long term residents or those dogs who may be having a hard time adjusting to a kennel atmosphere. Fosters are crucial to shelters and rescues ability to help expectant female dogs, by affording them a quiet and comfortable atmosphere to deliver puppies and care for them in those first weeks of crucial development.

2. YOU HAVE A HAND IN HELPING MAKE THE DOG MORE “ADOPTABLE”:

Often times, certain dogs may not “show” well in a kennel environment due to excess energy, or jockeying for attention as potential adopters walk by. While fostering a dog, you are able to provide exercise and stimulation, which in turn creates a calmer dog in the kennel which in many cases may be closer to what their behavior will look like in a home environment. In addition you can work with the dog on leash training, house training, or other basic command training, that potential adopters will find attractive when looking for the perfect dog for their family.

3. YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE A DOG’S FUTURE:

Shelters and rescues often look to fosters for those dogs who may have endured a difficult past such as abuse, cruelty, neglect, under socialization, etc. As a foster you have the chance and opportunity to gain a dogs trust, show them human touch and love perhaps for the first time, provide an environment for them to feel safe, and watch them transform before your eyes.

4. FOSTERING CAN BE GREAT FOR YOUR FAMILY:

If you have existing pets, introducing a dog can be a great experience for them as an additional companion, additional socialization, and an additional playmate! Children can benefit from fostering as a way to introduce responsibility, selflessness, a way to educate about animals, and is also a great way to “test” the idea of a permanent dog into the home in the future.

5. YOU BECOME PART OF A WONDERFUL “COMMUNITY”:

Fellow fosters from the same shelter or rescue will help guide you through the experience, give ideas, answer any questions, and may even become your friends! There is nothing quite like sharing experiences with those who do the same, and being part of a community of people who have like passions.

6. YOU WILL MAKE SOMEONE’S FAMILY COMPLETE:

When the day comes, that your foster finds that perfect home, the rewarding feeling you will experience is something very special. You will feel a sense of pride, in knowing what you helped that dog accomplish in his time with you. You will feel overjoyed, that he has found his forever family, and his happy ending that all homeless dogs so desire. And while certainly some goodbyes can be tough, knowing that a dog has found his happy ending, and that another precious life awaits to be afforded your gifts, is as a good of a feeling as there is!

So, change a life, save a life, and become a foster today!

Does My Pet Really Need Flea, Tick and Heartworm Preventives in the Winter?

Old Man Winter will be here before we know it. One benefit of the frigid temps that winter brings, you’d think, would be an end to the fleas, ticks and heartworms that plague our pets during warmer seasons. But, do you really need to keep giving those parasite preventives for pets all year long?

The short answer: Yes. Believe it or not, many of these parasites are still active during the winter months, no matter how cold it may get. And year-round parasite preventives not only help safeguard your pet from disease, but they help protect your family’s health as well.

Frustrating Fleas

Outdoors, fleas can survive in temperatures in the mid-to upper-30 oF range. They can also ride out the winter on dogs and cats huddled next to the skin where it’s warm. Also, the flea eggs that fell into your carpeting and furniture last summer may develop into adult fleas in the temperate environment of your home this winter.

On dogs and cats, fleas can cause uncomfortable itching, especially in pets with flea allergy dermatitis, which results from a severe allergic reaction to flea saliva. And once fleas are in your home, it can take months to get rid of them, and you run the risk of the people in the house getting fleas as well. Because fleas can contain tapeworm larvae, pets can become infected when they accidentally ingest a flea during self-grooming, and children can also contract these tapeworms. Why risk it when monthly preventives can help protect your pet and keep your house from becoming a flea gathering place?

Tenacious Ticks

Contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t die with the first frost. Some are just less active, while others search for a new host during winter thaws when it’s above freezing. Still others can live year-round in homes and kennels.

As the deer and wild turkey populations have expanded across the U.S., they’ve carried ticks with them to more geographic areas. And ticks aren’t just limited to woody areas. Landscaping in our suburbs and cities has attracted coyotes, foxes, raccoons and other wildlife, all of which can carry ticks into the urban areas. Ticks can transmit disease-causing agents to your pets. And ticks are equal-opportunity parasites: they’re happy to share infective organisms with you, too.

Hearty Heartworms

Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states of the U.S. This potentially fatal disease affects both dogs and cats and is very preventable. Mosquitoes, which transmit heartworms, can live year-round in many parts of the country. All it takes are a few days of temperatures above 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and the heartworm larvae can develop to the infective stage within the mosquito, ready to be transferred to pets with a single mosquito bite.

These insects can also live indoors and transmit heartworms, even in the winter. In fact, approximately 30 percent of cats that get heartworm disease are described as “strictly indoors” by their owners.

Worrisome Worms

Most heartworm preventives also contain medication to help eliminate intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms. Pets can become infected in the winter if they catch and eat an infected bird or mouse. Some parasite eggs, such as those from roundworms and whipworms, can survive freezing temperatures. If they’ve developed to the infective stage and the ground thaws, they can turn into larvae which pets can pick up from the environment or even at doggie daycare. If that’s not enough to cause worry, many of these intestinal parasites can be spread from pets to people.

While many of us have enjoyed warmer winters in the last few years, one thing’s for sure: Parasites are flourishing in the more temperate weather, too. To help safeguard your pets — and your family — talk to your veterinarian about the parasite risks in your area. He or she can recommend the right preventives to help keep everyone in your home safe and healthy, all year long.

IS PUMPKIN GOOD FOR DOGS?

Yes! For several reasons.

Humans may wait for the fall season to enjoy pumpkin-related treats, but one of the many benefits of being a dog is that pumpkin is on the menu all year round! You may see pumpkin flavored treats at the pet store, and for good reason — pumpkin for dogs can be a tasty, nutritious treat. Here’s how.

1. Pumpkin as a Nutrient-Rich Veggie

Pumpkins are chock full of nutrients. They contain loads of vitamin A, respectable amounts of vitamin C, and good quantities of other enriching minerals like potassium. Happily, it’s also low fat and low calorie.

2. Pumpkin as a Weight Loss Aid

Adding an appropriate serving of pumpkin to your dog’s food adds both volume and fiber to their diet. This can help fill them up while you’re trying to slim them down.

3. Pumpkin as Medicine

The fiber in pumpkin can serve to both loosen or tighten your dog’s bowels. It knows what it’s doing, and will magically (aka, scientifically) address whichever issue your dog faces.

4. Pumpkin as an Antioxidant

Pumpkin is rich in antioxidants from the carotenoid family. These carotenoids are very absorbable and sit in your dog’s cell membranes to fight oxidative damage. They’re considered some of the better long-acting antioxidants around.

5. Another Pumpkin Upside

Dogs usually enjoy the taste! So if you’re adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet for medicinal purposes, the sneaky pill-slipping tricks we often employ should not be necessary.

PUMPKIN FOR DOGS MEANS PUMPKIN FOR DOGS

Be aware of what you’re buying when you get canned pumpkin. Spiced mocha chai pumpkin, or banana pumpkin, or pumpkin pie filling, or any of the myriad human pumpkin consumables that also include cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices are not good for dogs.

Give your dog plain old canned pumpkin, or plain cooked pumpkin pulp. Always check the ingredients if you’re not sure.

Understanding the Risks and Benefits Associated with Microchipping your Pet by Examining the Top Five Fictions about Chips.

Fiction 1: Microchips are difficult to implant and can harm my pet.

Fact: Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are safely implanted like a vaccine is administered, by a needle in a fold of skin. For most pets, the discomfort is also like that of receiving a vaccine: mild and short-term. Since microchips never have to be replaced, it’s a quick, one-time shot. Plus, microchips are made of a biocompatible material that doesn’t cause allergic reactions. In the past, microchips ran the risk of migrating to another part of your pet’s body—but that’s no longer the case because of anti-migration technology added to the chips.

Fiction 2: Indoor cats don’t need microchips

Fact: Yes, they do! Even if you’re diligent about keeping your cat safely tucked inside, repairmen or visiting guests may not be as careful. Many indoor cats don’t wear collars with identification tags either. If your indoor pet slips out, having that microchip could bring her back home.

Fiction 3: Microchips are very expensive.

Fact: The average cost of a vet-implanted chip is $45, which includes registering your pet in the service’s database. However, if that cost seems prohibitive, keep an eye on your local shelter; many offer low-cost microchip services periodically.

Fiction 4: Microchips provide your pet with GPS-style tracking.

Fact: The microchip must be scanned in order for it to work. Microchips aren’t GPS technology; they’re Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. That means it doesn’t require a battery because it only works when it’s scanned—and draws the power needed to provide the scanner with the number from the scanner. Almost all shelters and vets offices in the U.S. have a microchip scanner on hand, and most are universal scanners, which means they can read numbers from just about any brand of chip.

Fiction 5: My pet’s collar tags will be enough to get him safely home.

Fact: A collar with up-to-date ID tags is important, of course. But, collars fall off and tags become indecipherable over time. While an ID tag is a critical first line of defense when your pet is lost, a microchip can’t get lost, fall off, or become unreadable.

The bottom line: A microchip’s benefits outweigh the drawbacks, many of which are unsubstantiated worries. Get your pet chipped, and keep the information updated. It’s the most reliable way to keep identifying information with your pet at all times, which significantly increases the chances that your furball will be reunited with you.