Aug 4 2017

Back-To-School Tips

When August comes around, we start thinking about school. Either the back-to-school sale, school supplies list, making sure everything’s ready, or just dreading the upcoming semester. What we might not always think about is how our furry friends in the home might understand what August means. I’m going through some tips and explaining what our pets feel like during those different schedules after summer.

Not all animals will feel this way when people start going back to work and school, but some will experience sadness and loneliness. They might mope around or sleep more. Maybe your dog starts chewing on things they shouldn’t, or maybe your cat becomes more vocal or pees in the litter box. Many people will not connect this to back-to-school time. Like some people, animals like having routine because it makes them feel secure. During the summer, if kids are playing with them all day, and suddenly they go away for long hours, it can cause confusion and stress.

There are so many ways that we can prepare for to curb this anxiety your pet might feel, and it is a great teaching moment for your children! Here are some tips that can get you through this transition.

1. Transition Time

If you prepare at least one week before school starts, the animal can mentally prepare for your absence. This could be leaving your dog inside during the early hours of the morning by themselves. Only for about thirty minutes or so, and that should help simulate school time. Another good trick is to start breaking out lunch boxes or school supplies that your dog would see when you leave them. They can get used to the items and desensitize them around it, making for an easier transition. 

2. Come up with a routine.

As mentioned above, animals are all about routine, and without it they can have severe depression or separation anxiety. To avoid that, you can start a new routine for all year round, that can benefit the children, you, and your animals. The schedule should include but is not limited to feeding, bathroom breaks, walks, and exercise/play time at set times each day. You could plan for a morning walk before or after school, and cuddle time in the evening, depending on what your schedule looks like. Coming up with a routine will reduce the stress on your animal.

3. Turn on the TV/music before you leave.

I do this with my animals, because I think they worry more when it is completely quiet. We used to turn on the radio, but now we turn on the TV for them. I usually put it on cartoons because they make the most noise and they can hear happy music. Human voices or calm music helps them adjust from seeing and hearing you all day to just nighttime.

4. Prepare special toys for the environment.

With you and the kids gone, the animals have lost their favorite playmate. If you provide toys throughout the day, and switch them out to make it fun, they will be able to transition. You can also provide food puzzles so they have to play and think while eating their food. We personally hide treats around our living room so they can have that to do as well. Some people will fill a puzzle feeder or Kong toy with peanut butter or cream cheese for an extra treat. Save those “favorite” toys for when the kids come home so they can enjoy it a little more.

5. Think about Daycare.

Sometimes dropping your dog off to daycare will help them make new friends and be busy all day. Cat daycares are few and far in-between, but you can always check to see if someone does that, but cats will not be as upset as dogs will. This will allow your dog to expend some energy, while being in good care and the company of others.

6. Quality Time

It is important to re-connect with your pet at the end of a busy week. With school back in session, your dog may not get as much time playing with your family as during the care-free days of summer. Remember that even though your pet wasn’t at work or school all day, he still needs time to unwind. Consider activities like: Long walks at the park, Lounging around on the couch, Daily walks, even as the days get shorter, A weekend picnic, A weekend hike, A visit to a restaurant or establishment that allows dogs, and A special weeknight brushing.

There aren’t that many tips for keeping your pet calm and collected while going back-to-school, but this is really all it takes. August can be a stressful time for you and your family, but don’t forget about your furry friends!

Come visit Wayside Waifs!

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: Noon-8pm
  • Thursday: Noon-8pm
  • Friday: Noon-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn


Jul 14 2017

Poe: Happy Tails

Being employed with Wayside Waifs is a very rewarding experience, and volunteers have the same feeling. Sometimes you get those special cases with cats or dogs and you cannot help but root for them. Poe is one of those cases. Pictured above is the day Poe came in, with a staff member assisting her with snuggles.

I work in our Admissions department, and I was working the day Poe came in our shelter back in February. She was an owner surrender who originally was found as a stray, and the surrender socialized her so she could be brought in for our adoption program. Below is a photo of Poe when she first came in.

I know what you are thinking. “Awe she is adorable with her stocky legs and big eyes! She must be a Munchkin cat!” Actually, Poe is a regular Domestic Shorthair, but her looks provided a different kind of answer. Every animal is required to have a blood test taken unless it has already been done recently. We drew Poe’s blood, and we noticed something different.

First, there was concern with potential neurological disorders. Our veteran foster Annie Hughes fostered her for a few days to test her vision, hearing, brain power, and litter box usage. The results were positive, as she could track and follow objects with her eyes, she listened well, had a very quirky personality, and she was going just outside of the litterbox, but that wasn’t a huge concern because she was only a kitten. At that point the relief vet decided to draw blood again, but this time, for thyroid issues. She tested positive for Hypothyroidism.

Hypo- or Hyper- thyroids can be in people and animals. Poe has Hypothyroidism, which is an under active thyroid. Hyperthyroidism is in turn an overactive thyroid. Hypo is where the thyroid gland is not producing enough of the hormone that effectively produces iodine. Without that, it can cause a number of symptoms, such as poor ability to tolerate cold, a feeling of tiredness, constipation, depression, and weight gain. Most people and animals with hypothyroidism symptoms and confirmed thyroxine deficiency are treated with a synthetic long-acting form of thyroxine, known as levothyroxine. Poe looks the way she does because her body is gaining more weight than it should be. With those results, she was put on levothyroxine and sent to foster again with our outstanding volunteer Annie Hughes.

After four doses of her medication, Poe transformed into a different kitty! According to her foster mom, “She runs, jumps, climbs, plays, takes toys to her lair, uses the litterbox every time, covers her poop, covers her uneaten food, communicates normally, grooms herself, solves problems, lounges around, gets picky about food, and expects me to do things her way.” Here are some pictures of her thriving in her foster home. 

 

 

 

 

 

Poe’s foster mom even included a video to showcase Poe’s funny walk. Because of her shape, she had a special kind of strut. You can watch the video here.

She continued to do well in her foster home, and they rechecked her thyroid levels on the twenty-first of March, and everything was back to normal. Poe’s body started to regain it’s normal shape and she started to grow more. Originally there was concern of a hernia that needed to be repaired, but they later dismissed that as her body filled out and she exhibited no pain. After tests confirmed there was no hernia, she was cleared for adoption. However, there was a twist. Her foster mom wanted to adopt her. The picture below was Poe’s ‘gotcha’ day with her new mom! Annie does a lot with our shelter. She fosters, she is in charge of our Waif Runner program, she works with our energetic dogs, and she assesses our cats’ personalities. She does a little bit of everything, and we are eternally grateful. She also fostered my current kitty, and is always happy to cat sit for me, which is amazing. Poe is a lucky girl, and so is Annie! Here are some pictures of Poe now, in her forever home!

 

 

Poe is thriving, and it is stories like this that makes what we do worthwhile. Please send us updates of your furry friend, we love seeing them in a home!

You can meet others like Poe during our adoption hours:

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: Noon-8pm
Thursday: Noon-8pm
Friday: Noon-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm

We have a special going on until Sunday, learn more about that here.

Written by Teryn

 

 

 


Jul 7 2017

Inside Scoop: Feline Care Department

I have worked at Wayside for almost three years now, and something I’ve noticed is whenever I speak to the general public about working here, they are interested in the animals, but they are also curious about the inside jobs of staff and volunteers. Today, I’ve decided to highlight the Feline Care Department. Kitten Season is a time when shelters see an increase in pregnant adult cats and many young kittens who need extra care. During the summer months, kitten season is at an all-time high, but the feline care team are prepared for anything.

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This is Sarah, a previous adoptions counselor who switched departments because it worked better for her schedule. Here she is pictured caring for Ford, who is sick with a mild upper respiratory infection. We were discussing her favorite part of the job, and as soon as she opened Ford’s door, he went in for snuggles.

“This. This is the best.” Sarah went on to say that, “In Adoptions, we knew the big picture of taking care of the animals, but I didn’t know there was this much that goes into it. It’s nice to see their journey and to help them along the way.”

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I asked Sarah what the feline care team is doing to prepare for kitten season.

“Honestly, we are going with the flow for now. We have space still, so we are always prepared for something different everyday. We also are watching for illness more than the usual amount. With moms and kittens, their immune systems are weakened, so I look for signs of illness immediately.”

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This is Lauretta, another previous adoptions counselor turn feline care technician. Lauretta switched departments for a full-time position, and is enjoying the new job. Here she is getting a fresh litter box for some kittens in our Kitten Nursery ward. That room is usually designated for pregnant or nursing mothers and kittens. Lauretta typically worked in cat adoptions, but she enjoys seeing their journey throughout their stay.

“I honestly like seeing how they grow throughout their stay here. They either need help with their shyness or they need medical treatment, or maybe they just want cuddles. I like seeing their progress.” She also thinks cats in general are pretty great!

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This is less than half of our other feline care technicians. We also have team members Shannon, Chris, Sheila, and the feline care manager Bonnie. They are all fantastic in what they do and give 110% in caring for our cats. Bonnie had some insight as to what it is like managing such a wonderful department, and what her favorite part is!

“I would have to say when staff thinks outside the box or takes initiative to do more or to find a way to improve a process. Growth for them.”

Many shelters are already full, but kitten season promises to be as lively as ever. Consider brushing up on your city’s animal control policies and contact shelters to see their availability. Be cautious if you have a raised deck, and check under your car before driving and around the tires. Mother cats often try to find hard to reach places to protect their litter. Most importantly, stay cool out there!

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Adoption Hours:

 

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: Noon-8pm
  • Thursday: Noon-8pm
  • Friday: Noon-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn


Jun 30 2017

Heat Wave

While we are having a grim end to the month of June, July, as usual, promises to be the hottest month of the year for Kansas City. Our summers are hot, muggy, and wet, while our winters are chilly, dry, and windy. Being in the midwest, you get a little bit of everything here, apart from tsunamis and hurricanes. You can learn a little more about weather in this metro area here. You can also view the weather monthly here. With the upcoming heat wave, we figured now would be a good time to provide tips for protecting your pet from those harmful rays, while giving suggestions for safe fun in the sun!

1. Visit the vet for an early spring or summer checkup.

My animals coincidently have their appointments in the summer, but it helps me out because I can see how bad allergies are and my dog always gets her yearly heart-worm test. These worms are spread from host to host through mosquito bites, and are more common in the summertime. It’s also recommended that you get monthly prevention if you are in an area that has a high mosquito rate. Your vet will have the prevention to purchase at their office.

2. Always keep fresh, clean water at the ready.

This should be nothing new, but always provide a nice clean bowl of fresh water for your pet. I personally have two bowls of water in the house and one outside on our patio, if my dog wants to lay in the shade outside. If it is too hot, only take them outside for necessary potty breaks, and no need to over-exercise. We wouldn’t want you or your pet to get overheated!

3. Know the symptoms of heat stroke in your pets.

Excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse are all symptoms of heat stroke. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. You’ll want to watch out for these during our high heat and humidity days! Do not leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle, it can cause a fatality!

4. Be careful about grooming your pets.

Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

5. Check the pavement before you go on a walk.

Before you head out for a walk, touch the pavement. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw pads. Walk on the grass and stay off the asphalt. You also might want to try booties for your dog so his paws don’t burn. You can still go on walks, but staying in shaded areas of grass is really the only way to go in the heat.

Now for some fun ideas in the sun that will be both entertaining and safe for you and your furry friend!

1. Kiddie Pools

It’s summertime, and some dogs love being in the water, so why not invest in a kiddie pool?! My dog is forty-five pounds of love, and on Sunday we usually get her pool out and she has the time of her life. Always supervise your animals near water, but it’s a cheap and fun way to stay cool outside! Our first picture above is a Waif here that is enjoying their kiddie pool!

2. Ice Treats

This is always fun to make, and you can do it at home! Instead of soda flavors or fruit, you can freeze peanut butter or dog treats and give it to your pet on a hot day. It gives them something to work on, and it tastes great to them as well! Some people even freeze their toys for some extra fun times. Just make sure all the food is dog/cat friendly. 

3. Anything you can throw or toss. 

Now is the time to break out that frisbee or rope. Keep in mind that during the heat of the day, you and your dog should be inside for safety reasons, but two or three throws wouldn’t hurt. You can even do this indoors if you have the access. That way they can get ample amount of playing time while still staying cool, and you as well!

4. Sprinkler toys

Once again, some dogs really enjoy the water, and sprinklers are a cheap entertainment option. There are sprinklers you can purchase for your yard, there are dog specific sprinklers, so many different kinds! If your dog isn’t a fan of the water, they may want to sit this one out, but sometimes the price is worth it!

There you have it! Hopefully these tips for surviving in the heat and enjoying the summertime with your furry friend! Always check the weather so you nor your pet will have to suffer in the heat! Follow the links above to check Kansas City weather patterns. From all of us here at Wayside Waifs, enjoy your summer, and have a safe Fourth of July!

Adoption Hours for our campus are below. Let Freedom Ring for the animals at Wayside Waifs! It’s a grrr-eat time to adopt! Join us for our Let Freedom Ring adoption promotion starting this Wednesday, June 28 through Sunday, July 2! Half -price adoptions* for all adult dogs & cats (5 months and older), and all kittens! Adopt one kitten and the adoption fee is waived for a second kitten adoption! Hundreds of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are ready for a second chance and a forever home! All of our adoptable pets are spay/neutered, current on age appropriate vaccinations and microchipped. You can meet all of our adoptable pets on our website. Be sure to check back daily as more animals are cleared for adoption.
*This promotion excludes puppies under 5 months of age.

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: Noon-8pm
Thursday: Noon-8pm
Friday: Noon-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn


Jun 23 2017

Fourth of July Safety Tips

It’s the time of year to celebrate Independence Day! It is an annual Federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and registering as a country, the United States of America. We typically celebrate with family, friends, fireworks, and good times. However, our furry friends don’t enjoy the holiday as much as we do, so we here at Wayside thought it would be helpful to provide tips on Fourth of July safety for our four-legged family members.

1. Have updated ID and photos of all your pets.

This goes without saying, but sometimes the animals get so nervous and scared they might try to run off and find a safe place. Having proper identification and updated photos greatly increases their chances of coming home sooner. At our store Whiskers & Wags, we sell a variety of collars and ID tags that you can purchase on campus.

2. Leave your pets at home.

To avoid something like a lost pet happening, and to ease your furry friends’ stress, consider leaving them at home for the celebration. Most pets do not want to be near fireworks when they are set off, and find the most comfort at home. Please do not lock them in the car either, because they could suffer from heat stroke and/or brain damage.

3. Don’t put insect repellant on your pet.

This also should go without saying, but if your family is having a get-together and you would like to take your pets before the fireworks show, do not put insect repellant or sunscreen on your pet. There are certain ingredients in both that are poisonous for animals, and will have effects like neurological disorders and lethargy.

4. Never leave alcoholic beverages unattended to where your pets could reach them.

Dogs and cats are naturally curious, and if a beer or cocktail is left on the ground, they might consider knocking it over and drinking it. If consumed, the animal can get intoxicated and very weak, and could even go into a coma. Put those drinks on coasters on a high-rise table so they are unable to reach it, and provide fresh water for them to drink instead.

5. Keep your pet on their normal diet.

This is the time of year when people are barbecuing more and more because the weather is nice. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea.

6. Don’t give your pet access to glow jewelry. 

Glow jewelry is that super popular item that people put in freezers and wraps around your joints in place of bracelets and necklaces. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

7. Don’t force your pet into a costume for the holiday. 

It may seem cute to dress them up in the red, white, and blue, but unless your dog (or even less likely, your cat) loves to play dress-up, don’t push the issue. If they have a medical condition, some sort of loose clothing is definitely acceptable. Also, if your animal shuts down during the fireworks, consider purchasing a thunder shirt, which can be found at our store Whiskers & Wags. They are proven to help make animals feel safe and secure, while keeping anxiety levels down.

8. Do keep matches and lighter fluid out of the animals’ reach.

Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. Keep those items on a high-rise table out of their reach, and all will be well!

9. Consider getting calming treats and Adaptil collars

Calming treats and Adaptil/anti-anxiety collars are both sold in our retail store Whiskers & Wags, and they have been helpful to ease stress for our animals here. The collar mimics the dogs’ natural pheromone that helps ease tension, and can help them relax during a fireworks display, as long as they are indoors. Calming treats will help do the same things, and will taste good as well!

10. Brush up on flea/tick treatment.

Ticks and fleas are more abundant than ever because of the mild winter we had. They will find a host environment in dogs and cats, and during a celebration it might go unnoticed. We also sell seresto collars which help battle unwanted visitors for up to eight months. They will help during that barbecue and high heated areas! They can be found at our retail store Whiskers & Wags.

These are just some tips that help our furry friends, and you, prepare for the celebratory holiday! Enjoy, and be safe! Our retail store Whiskers & Wags is open during our adoption hours, provided below.

Adoption Hours:

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: Noon-8pm
Thursday: Noon-8pm
Friday: Noon-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn


Jun 16 2017

Bert and Marla: Long-Term Residents

Wayside Waifs typically cares for 5,400+ animals per year, but some of our residents stay longer than what is expected. Sometimes the animals get extra medical treatment for maybe an upper respiratory infection, to something as severe as pneumonia. That can extend the stay of our friends here, and another reason they may stay longer is if they are involved in our behavior rehabilitation programs here. Every case is different, but these two long-term animals have the longest length of stay in the dog and cat categories. Bert and Marla are eager to find that fur-ever home, but here is a little background about them.

This is Bert, and he is a five-year old Basset Hound mix. His LOS (Length of Stay) is 184 days since he was returned from his previous adopter. Collectively, his LOS is longer than that. Bert was transferred to us back in August of 2016 when his previous shelter ran out of room for him. He came to us with a little upper respiratory infection, as well as being Heartworm positive. Bert received care for both conditions and is now healthy and ready to settle in a home.

Bert battled an infection on and off during his first few months here, and then he was medically cleared for adoption. Bert has a high reactivity to other dogs when on-leash, and he has been known to get stressed out around children. However he is a sweet boy, and very active! He LOVES going on walks and runs, and really loves to be outside when the weather’s nice. He loves toys as well, especially Kongs. The staff members and volunteers here have easily joined Bert’s fan club, as he is now a favorite throughout.

Jess, our Canine and Behavior Manager, speaks highly of Bert. “He’s a really fun guy, and if you’re looking for an active, lovable boy, Bert’s the dog for you.”

Jess also mentions his restrictions with children and dogs shouldn’t necessarily be set in stone. “Honestly, he needs a patient person or persons to train him properly, as he never has had the proper training. Once he has a good pattern of behavior, maybe he’ll do good with kids and dogs. At the beginning, it might be too much for him.”

Elise, a Canine Care Technician, also had some great things to say about Bert. “He will make you laugh, he’ll go outside and roll on his back with a big goofy grin. It’s hilarious!” Elise works with Bert and all of our canine friends regularly, and has seen his progress firsthand. “He needs a special person that will see how unique he is, and that will be Bert’s perfect home.”

This precious boy is looking for his big break, and who better to tell you about Bert than Bert himself?! If you want to watch his video, click here.

“Hi there, I’m Bert! I’m an adorable, 45-pound dog who’s looking for a place to call my own. After being transferred here by my shelter when they ran out of space for me, I’m ready to move on with my life and get things started with my new family! I’ll do better in a home without small children. Sometimes I forget how strong I am! I’d love to meet the whole family before heading home, so bring everyone out to meet me! I’m affectionate and loving with people! I like to stay active because being healthy is so important. I have great leash manners when I use my easy walk harness so taking walks together will be so much fun! Being outside is one of my favorite things so I hope we can spend some time bonding over the exciting sights and smells of this world. I also love to keep my brain sharp so teach me everything you know! I’ve already got the commands sit, down, and come covered but I know I can learn even more with your help. Oh, and I can even army crawl! I think that’s pretty cool. Get me extra motivated with fun toys or yummy treats! I’m so handsome and have a stellar personality. I’m one happy boy who doesn’t know a bad day! I’ll be sure to put a smile on your face whenever you’re around me. I hope you’ll come meet me soon so you can fall in love with my bubbly personality and handsome smile! Love, Bert”

This is Marla, and she is a three-year old tabby cat. Her LOS (Length of Stay) is 136 days straight. Back in February of this year, Marla was rescued from a hoarding case, and had no major signs of illness. With hoarding cases, we test for FIV and FELV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia Virus respectively. Being around all those cats in certain conditions can bring life-altering illnesses. Marla was the only one out of ten in her group to test negative for both, she is resilient!

Even so, she did contract ringworm after staying her for almost a month, and was put in our isolation ward to treat her patches of hair loss. She was shy through all of this, so she felt a little run-down. However, with quick treatment and our excellent TABBY program, To Achieve Best Behavior Yet, she became the wonderful cat she is today! Our excellent staff and volunteers worked with her everyday to allow her to come out of her shell. She is a staff and volunteer favorite as well, mainly because of how independent she is.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Becky is Marla’s Waif Watcher, which is an advocate program to help promote our waifs. “I love how independent she is, but she also will come up for pets. She will enjoy playing with someone, and playing by herself. She’s the perfect cat!” Becky used to work in our Feline Care Department as well, so she also got to know Marla through there. “When she started to come out of her shell, we noticed how playful she is, and it’s adorable to watch. She is also unique looking for a tabby, so that is a positive too!”

Bonnie, our Feline Care Manager, also has some nice things to say about Marla. “I love seeing a really shy cat make a huge turnaround and become who they really are. The day Marla started to play with me was a great day!” Bonnie founded our TABBY program and it has helped cats like Marla become more confident. “Marla gives good signs when she either has had enough or if she wants more attention. She’s a smart girl!”

This gorgeous gal is looking for her fur-ever home, and that might be you! She would love to tell you about herself, and you can also watch her video here. Please note this video is earlier during her stay here, come meet her to see how much she has grown! Here is how Marla is now!

“Hi I’m Marla! I’m a pretty tabby cat with plenty of love to give. My friends at Wayside call me a Private Investigator. That means that I might spend some time behind the scenes while I make sure everything in the house is in order. I might be a little shy at first but I’ve been known to give purrs and headbutts. I love mice and wand toys! I will need a home where I am the only cat and there are no children under the age of 10. I’ll need someone to be patient with me and give me the private space I need to adjust to a new home. Once I’m comfortable, I’ll be your best friend. I can’t wait to have my own furever family!”

You can meet Bert and Marla at our facility during our adoption hours:

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: Noon-8pm
Thursday: Noon-8pm
Friday: Noon-8pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn


Jun 16 2015

Beat the heat! Keep your pet cool this summer.

Spending summer days with your furry friend can be a lot of fun but the weather conditions aren’t always suitable for your pet. The rising temperatures and extreme humidity that the summer brings can be fatal for your animal if you aren’t aware of the dangers they can bring. On a really hot day your pet probably prefers a cool, air conditioned environment, but if you take on the outdoors with them there are a few things to remember.

Keeping your pet hydrated is crucial. Make sure you provide fresh, clean water that your pet can access at any time.  Also, if you’re unable to keep them indoors make sure that they have a shaded area they can go to when they need to get out of the sun.  If they are outdoors in the sun for too long, your pet can become overheated.  If you are transporting them in a vehicle be sure to never leave them in the car while it’s parked. A parked car can quickly become way too hot for your pet, whether the windows are down or not. Leaving an animal unattended in a parked vehicle can be fatal for your pet so make sure you are able to keep them with you when you’ve reached your destination or just leave them at home so they can stay cool.

Another way to keep your pet cool is to trim their fur. If you have a breed that grows long hair, it can be beneficial to get their hair trimmed short in the summer time. This can keep them much cooler on hot, summer days. It also helps to brush your animal’s fur more often than usual.

Be sure to pay attention to the heat of the asphalt. If it is a hot day, chances are the concrete and asphalt have reached temperatures that can potentially burn your pet’s paws.  Don’t let your pet stand or walk where the ground might be too hot for their paws.

Taking your pet swimming is a great idea for the both of you to cool off.  If you decide to let your pet splash around in a pool, lake, or other body of water do not leave them unsupervised! Not all dogs are natural swimmers and may need help. Don’t just assume that they will be able to swim and take care of themselves while in the water.

It is important to know the symptoms of overheating so that you can know when there is a problem and when you need to take action. Some symptoms of overheating are excessive panting or difficulty breathing, an increased heart rate, excessive drooling, or mild weakness. When body temperatures get too high they can also experience seizures, diarrhea, or vomiting. Pay attention to the weather and be aware of the potential danger that the hot summers can bring. By doing this you can beat the heat and have a fun but safe summer with your furry friend!

 


Apr 24 2015

Dog Training Tips: Excessive Chewing

How to help your little chewer 

It’s not uncommon for dogs to enjoy chewing on different objects, regardless of whether or not it’s something they should or shouldn’t be chewing on, all dogs have the natural instinct to chew.  Dogs chew on things for different reasons, some of these include: they’re bored, they’re panicking due to separation anxiety, they’re teething, they’re exploring the world around them, they’re hungry, or they just naturally enjoy chewing as a daily activity.  It’s our responsibility as their owners to try to figure out why they’re chewing and ensure they have appropriate items for them to chew on.  Below is some additional information about how to manage a dog that likes to chew a lot.

  • Puppies go through two teething phases, one when their puppy teeth or “milk teeth” start to come in at about 3 weeks old and the second when their adult teeth start to come in at about 3 months old.  It’s not uncommon for young dogs up to two years of age to continue to want to chew a lot into their teenage phase even though they are no longer teething.
  • Generally speaking, younger dogs have a lot more energy than older dogs so as a result they are much more active and need to be given constructive outlets to burn off all that energy.  If they’re not given the appropriate exercise and mental stimulation for their age and breed, young dogs can become very destructive in your home.  It’s imperative that you make the time to exercise your young dog, train basic obedience behaviors to your young dog so that they learn some manners, and give them appropriate chew bones and toys.  A tired dog is a good dog.
  • Always supervise young dogs to ensure they are not chewing on inappropriate objects and to ensure they are not choking and/or ingesting parts of the toys you’ve given them to play with and chew on.  Baby gates, crates, or keeping your dog on a leash tied to your belt are all good tools for total supervision until you get to know your dog and his or her chewing habits.  Not all dogs can play with the same toys safely so it’s imperative that you monitor your dog when you give them a new toy for the first time.  Ingested toys can cause serious life threatening intestinal blockages and the surgery alone to remove the blockage can cost a few thousand dollars at a veterinary office.
  • You can ensure that your dog is not chewing on inappropriate objects by keeping your personal items picked up and put away.  Also make sure that rooms are safe for your dog and that things like plugged in power cords are out of your dog’s reach.  Closing doors to extra rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms will ensure that your dog is not sneaking off and chewing on your things or harming herself.  Remind your children that it is their responsibility to keep their items like toys and shoes put away if they don’t want them chewed on by the dog.  It’s not uncommon for dogs of any age to want to chew things that smell strongly of their owners like dirty socks, underwear, shoes, etc. so make sure they are out of your dog’s reach.
  • If your dog is chewing on an inappropriate item, always redirect their chewing to their dog toys and bones instead of scolding them.  Scolding them will not diminish their need to chew and do something mentally stimulating; it will just teach your dog to fear you.  Instead teach them what they should be doing by offering them toys or chews that they should chew on.  See the list below of toys recommended for excessive chewers.
  • If your dog is chewing on larger items that you can’t put away like furniture, you may want to try a taste deterrent spray like bitter apple spray.  However, the best option is always going to be supervising your dog when you’re home and then redirecting them to an appropriate toy when they feel the need to chew.  If you’re not home to supervise then you may need to crate train your dog or baby gate them in a dog proof room like a kitchen or bathroom.  Some people can safely give their dogs toys to chew on while they are away while others cannot because their dog may have a history of ingesting or choking on toys.
  • If your dog is excessively chewing when you are not home and is doing things like escaping out of its metal or plastic crate and then chewing up carpets, doors, or the molding around your doors or windows, you most like have a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety and should seek immediate help from your veterinarian and a behaviorist.  Please see our separation anxiety handout.  Your dog is experiencing extreme mental and emotional distress, akin to a panic attack. Do not continue to try to crate your dog; she may severely injure her body or teeth while trying to escape out of a crate.
  • Recommended dog toys for excessive chewers*:
    • Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or wet dog food and then frozen
    • Himalayan Chews
    • Goughnuts
    • Nylabones
    • Wholesome rolled rawhide bones
    • Deer, moose, or elk antlers
    • Bull horns
    • Bully sticks
    • Rope toys
    • Tuffy plush toys
    • Leather toys
    • Red Barn or Merrick marrow bones

*Items above are generally safer if they are made in the USA compared to products shipped in from overseas, particularly animal products such as rawhides and marrow bones.  Wayside Waifs does not receive any financial reimbursement for endorsing these products.  Wayside Waifs can also not be held liable should your dog have problems while interacting with these toys.

 


Mar 31 2015

Introducing Your Cat to the Litter Box

The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Some cats can be quite particular when it comes to where they eliminate.   Some guardians expect cats to just “know” what to do and where to go, when in fact, they don’t always.  If a kitten has been separated from its Mother or littermates too soon, it might not learn on its own.   Someone has to help them, and that someone just might be you.

When you first bring your new cat or kitten home, they should be given their own room for at least a couple of days.  They need time to acclimate to their environment, to you, and this will help them to understand where they are to potty as well.  Give the cat time to investigate the room, and they will find the litter box on their own.  Do not place food and water bowls beside the litter box, put those in an area away from the litter box.  If you don’t see your cat investigating anywhere near the litter box, you can place the cat in the litter box, but only if they are comfortable with you doing so.  Don’t force them, and do not help move their paws in the litter box either.  This has to be a positive experience for them.  It is best to give them time to investigate on their own.

Which litter box do you need?  Start with a basic litter box, without a cover.  Buy a standard sized litter box or a large clear Sterilite container that is 1.5 times an adult cat’s length.  Cats need room to move around! They should have enough space to be able to turn around comfortably.  If you do buy a covered litter box, it must be tall enough so the cat can comfortably stand up.  Most cats don’t like having a cover.  Imagine walking into a small space, going potty, cleaning up (covering up), and then exiting.  The litter box needs to be a positive experience for a cat and spending several minutes inside a dirty litter box is an unpleasant experience.  Also, if there are other cats in the home, some might use this as a chance to pounce on the unassuming cat when it exits the litter box.  Some guardians will purchase a litter liner, and this is something you might have to try out to see what your cat thinks of it.  If the cat doesn’t like that sound or feel of it, stop using it.

Which type of litter do you need?  Kittens should not be given clumping litter.  Kittens are curious, and may actually play or try to eat it.  Unscented is best.  Scented litter may actually cause your cat to not use the litter box.  Two inches of litter in the litter box is recommended.  Adults prefer unscented, clumping litter at a depth of 3-4 inches.

Where should the litter box be kept?  It should continue to stay in the room your cat started out in.  The general rule for litter boxes is to have 1 litter box per cat plus 1 more.  So, the 2nd litter box should be kept on another level in the home or another area for easy access whenever the cat has to “go”.  The litter boxes must be in a quiet, stress-free area, and where the cat can have easy access to it at any time.  If there are young children or other pets in the home, it is very important that they do not try to prevent the cat from getting to the litter box.

How often does the litter box need to be cleaned?  Litter boxes should be scooped at least on a daily basis.  Depending on the number of cats in the home, this may need to be done more than once each day.  Change the litter at least on a weekly basis.  This is also a great time to clean the litter box.  Soap & water is usually good enough for removing any stains or odor.   You can use an enzyme-based cleaner if the urine odor is very strong, but it’s usually a good rule to allow a little odor, because your cat is familiar with it. Also, sometimes a chemical smell will turn off the cat from using the litter box.  If the litter box is cleaned entirely of the cat’s scent, they may not use it.  Remember, you probably won’t smell anything once it’s been cleaned with soap & water, but your cat probably can.

What if the cat refuses to use the litter box?  Please contact your Veterinarian if your cat stops using the litter box and using other areas.  If your cat is not eliminating at all, contact your Veterinarian immediately to rule out any serious health issue.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.


Mar 31 2015

Dealing with Destructive Cat Scratching

The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Scratching is a normal behavior for cats!  It serves many purposes, such as marking territory, relieving stress and excess energy, stretching, and removing the dead outer layer of their claws.  Cats need to scratch and this should not be taken away from them.  Cats that scratch on undesirable objects just need a little guidance as to what is acceptable and beneficial.

Choosing a scratching post

Every cat must have at least one good scratching post; preferably more than one, especially in multi-cat homes.  Figuring out which type of scratching post your feline will prefer might take a little bit of trial and error.  Most cats like to stretch upwards, so providing a tall cat tower that is at least 3 feet tall with a stable base is always a good idea.  Even if the cat doesn’t use it to scratch on, it provides a nice perch to survey their surroundings, look out windows, or to provide some solitude when needed.

A proper vertical scratching post needs to suit the needs of an adult-sized cat.  A kitten is going to grow quickly, so it’s best to get the proper height right from the beginning.  The taller the better, but ideally it should be tall enough for an adult cat to stand on the hind legs, and stretch all the way up as far as they can reach.  This gives the cat plenty of surface area to work on and a proper stretch.  The scratching post needs to be sturdy as well.  If it tips or falls over, it may scare the cat, and the cat may never approach it or use it again.

Some cats prefer to scratch horizontally.  There are scratch posts that provide this option as well.  Again, finding one that won’t slide around or tip is very important.  Place the scratch board on a carpeted surface or purchase a gripper mat to prevent movement. Texture is important as well.  Some cats prefer carpeted posts, some prefer sisal, and some prefer corrugated cardboard.  Sisal is the most preferred as it is durable and helps the claws to lose the dead outer layer.  Corrugated cardboard will need to be replaced periodically as the scratcher deteriorates from use.

Training your cat to use the scratching post

If you have a multi-cat home, you should have 1 scratch post per cat (or more).  Each cat might have a preference of where it is located as well.  If there is any conflict between your cats, if you recognize these conflicts re-occurring in the same areas of the home, place a scratch post in those areas.  Any of the cats feeling stressed can have easy access to an instant stress reliever.  Scratching posts should be placed in common cat traffic areas and near items that the cat has previously used for scratching. If your cat is scratching on your couch, for example, place the scratch post in front of that particular area.

Sprinkling or spraying catnip onto the tower will attract the cat to the tower.  Lure your cat to the scratching post by dangling a favorite toy on the scratcher to encourage exploration and use of the scratcher.  Always praise your cat when the scratcher is used even after the training phase is over! Once your cat is consistently using the tower, you can begin to move it a few inches at a time until it is in the location you would like it to be. Be patient and allow the cat time to consistently use it after each move.

If you see the cat about to scratch on an undesirable area, do not frighten the cat or punish the cat.  Distract the cat by dangling their favorite toy near them and guide them with the toy to the scratching post.  Continue to play with your cat by dangling the toy high up on the scratching post so your cat jumps or stretches to catch it.  This will show the cat that the scratching post is stable and feels good to scratch.  Interrupting a cat who is already scratching can be done with a distracting toy or an aversive sound.  When the cat uses the scratch post, be sure to praise and reward with an extra tasty treat.

Alternatives to Declawing

Declawing is a procedure where a veterinarian amputates the end digit and claw of a cat’s paw.  Declawing should never be an option unless it is for medical reasons (ie:  injury).  Declawed cats are more likely to suffer from painful arthritis and behavior issues. Declawing a cat also takes away one of its first defenses.  This can result in a cat biting more than it might have if it still had its claws.  Declawing can also lead to litter box problems, as it can be painful for a cat to rake its paws through the litter. There is a product called Soft Paws that is a wonderful alternative.  They are plastic caps that fit right over each claw.  A cat can scratch, and there won’t be any damage.  Groomers and veterinarians can help apply these if you need any help putting them on. The caps can stay on for several weeks before needing to be replaced.

Keeping your cats nails trimmed on a regular basis will also help to prevent you from getting scratched, or the cat getting its nails caught on something, possibly causing damage to the item or to the cat.  Clip off the sharp tips every two weeks or so.  Work on desensitizing your cat to make this a tolerable interaction.  Petting her paws or legs and providing treats at the same time will help the cat to associate the touch as a positive interaction.  You can then begin to increase the pressure with gentle squeezes.  Eventually you will need to do this to extend the claw in order to trim them.  When you extend the claw, you should be able to see the pink or “quick” inside the claw.  This is a small blood vessel, and you want to be sure you do NOT cut in that area, or it will bleed and be painful.  This will help to dull the claw and prevent some damage to furniture or to you.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.


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