Choose to Adopt

In a perfect world, people would spay or neuter their pets. But not everyone does. I’m not getting on my soap box about that today, though. Maybe some other time. Instead, today I want to talk about adoption. Many people believe that shelter animals are damaged goods – that they either came from homes with severe neglect and are unsocialized or wild, or that they were behavior problems and that’s why they’re in the shelter. That’s simply not true.

Yes, there are animals that came from bad environments. However, many shelters will foster animals to experienced homes before making them available for adoption to help socialize them and bring out the pet’s real personality. There are other animals that have been given up through no fault of their own – financial reasons, allergies, change in family situations, etc. These pets are already housebroken, have been brought up in loving homes, and are just looking to be part of a family again! Some of them are even purebred!

My best friend’s cat passed away. She was really upset for a long time but then she decided she wanted another. She went back to the animal shelter where they had been so nice to her when they put her first cat down. They had another cat that had been in the shelter for so long, they gave her away for free! They said they had almost given up trying to find a home for her and maybe would have had to put that beautiful girl down, how terrible is that? My friend took her home and the cat, now named Tigger because she likes to pounce on things, are living happily ever after.

My little brother adopted a dog recently. He already has two but when he brought them to the vet, she mentioned that they were having a lot of trouble trying to rehome this one black lab whose owner was deploying for a year and then moving overseas and couldn’t bring the dog. My brother’s always wanted one, so he brought his other two dogs in to see what they thought of Shep. Everyone got along great, so now he has a three dog pack. They all get along so well that it’s hard to tell that Shep is new.

When I volunteered at a shelter, we heard stories like this every day. People would take home a pet and then either come in, email us, or send a note to let us know how well the new addition to their family was doing. It was the second biggest highlight of my day – after watching a pet go home with a new family of course.

Let me tell you, adopting a pet can be a great experience. I would know, that’s where I met Sydney. We are another one of those adoption success stories. She was just the saddest, sweetest looking little ball of fluff when I saw her and I knew she and I were meant to be a family forever.

There are humane societies, animal shelters, and websites that list pets available for adoption. Take a look. You might just find your new best friend!

Should You Make Your Own Pet Food?

I think I would need both hands to talk about all the pet food recalls in recent memory. With everything from plastic and metal to other euthanized animals (so nasty), it can be scary every time you walk down the pet food aisle! And you have to wonder, who can you trust?

Well, if you’re tired of the giant pet food corporations taking shortcuts and risking your pet’s health, you can actually make your own pet food. It sounds a bit scary, but it really isn’t. I do it for Sydney and we’re both pretty happy with the results. Here’s what you need to know in order to get started.

First, I recommend talking to your vet. They might tell you to avoid sodium or how many calories you need to be feeding them. Some pets need special diets due to health concerns. You’re going to need to be sure that you can either meet those needs somehow. Please don’t just find a recipe on the internet and start making it for your pet. There can be serious long-term consequences if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Remember that just because something is all-natural or safe for humans does not mean it is good for pets. It’s important to know that you’re meeting your pets’ nutritional needs without exposing them to scarier things. Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But did you know raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure? The additive xylitol, found in many human foods, can also be fatal. Nuts, too (peanuts are legumes). Onions, garlic, and chives are also terrible for dogs, but even worse for cats! There’s a whole list of things that people can be unaware of and unknowingly poison their pets with – I don’t know them all. So please, please, make sure you talk to your vet about that stuff, too.

That’s what not to do, sure. But you’re probably wondering what to do. Look for reputable recipes specific for your type of animal, You’ll want things that have very specific ingredients (ie “mashed sweet potato” vs “cooked vegetables”) to be sure that you are meeting your pet’s specific needs. You will also likely need to use a supplement. It’s hard to meet all of your pet’s food needs through diet. Lean meats should make up at least 50% of their diet (cats slightly more than dogs). Liver is actually a fantastic meat to use. Sounds gross but Sydney loves it!

Calcium is beneficial to animals. Meaty bones will work well for dogs, but bone meal might be better for cats (a word of caution – only use bone meal marked for human consumption, not the gardening kind). Some fats are helpful too, to promote a healthy skin and fur coat.  While most animals don’t eat carbs in the wild, you should include some in their food.

Also, sure, our pets’ wild relatives eat raw foods. That does not mean you should feed your pets raw food! Your pet’s wild cousins also don’t live as long as you want your pet to. I’m all for a natural diet but follow food safety measures to prevent food-borne illnesses and disease!

Know that if you have a growing kitten or puppy, or a pregnant or nursing animal, there’s a lot more to consider with nutrition – so again, please talk to your vet or veterinary dietician before you change their diet and start making your own food. Going natural can be a great option but please be careful and be sure you’re doing it right.