It is nearly springtime again and along with hearing the birds singing and the bees buzzing it is a busy time for animal shelters to have many puppies and kittens brought in. The nice weather and warmer temperatures after a long winter encourage many owners to let their animals outside. This is wonderful for the animal too, unless they are not spayed or neutered.

Unfortunately, an estimated 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year due to overpopulation according to the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Even being a purebred dog does not give that animal a safe ticket to a new home as 25% of the 55% of dogs and puppies being put down are purebreds. 71% of cats and kittens entering shelters are put down each year. In the U.S. 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day compared to the 10,000 human babies born daily. There simply are not enough homes for each animal.

Spaying or neutering is the solution to this overpopulation problem. Consult your veterinarian to determine the age at which the spay or neuter process for your pet can occur. Spaying is for the female and it is the removal of both ovaries and the uterine horns. Neuter is for males and it is the removal of both testicles. These operations are not painful because the animal is under anesthesia. When the animal wakes up it is usually back to its normal activity within 24-72 hours.

There are many benefits to your pet’s health when you spay or neuter. For the female there will not be the heat cycles twice a year that can leave bloodstains on the floor and it will reduce shedding. There will be no chance of her developing Pyometra-a uterine infection that causes many deaths in unspayed females. Also her chances of developing breast cancer and mammary tumors will be minimal. For males, neutering keeps him from developing testicular cancer. This means less money could be spent on medical bills for your pet. There is also a reduced city pet registration fee for sterilized animals ($5 annual fee for spayed or neutered pet OR $100 not fixed) and the behavior modifications are rewarding.

Sterilization does not change your pet’s personality or cause weight gain as many myths suggest. Any changes brought about by spaying or neutering are generally positive. There is a reduction of many behavioral issues. Neutered male cats usually stop territorial spraying. This leads to a reduction of roaming and finding females in heat. Research shows that 80% of dogs hit by cars are un-neutered males. The idea that males do not need neutered because they do not give birth is misleading. While females can only have one litter at a time, male animals can impregnate many females each day. Males being neutered leads to less aggression and they are less likely to bite. Spayed and neutered animals make better pets and are more loyal to their families. Spaying and neutering also saves taxpayer dollars. It costs over $100 dollars to capture, house, feed, and euthanize a homeless animal and when your looking at over 7.5 million animals a year, it all ads up.

Spaying and neutering is not as expensive as many pet owners think. There are many communities with sterilization programs and one can usually find a low cost spay and neuter clinic in their area. Including SNAP, which stands for Spay Neuter Assistance Program. Asking your veterinarian about programs that provide aid is a good place to start. Encouraging friends and neighbors to spay or neuter their pets is beneficial to their animals and will also keep your pets safe.

No matter what pet you decide to adopt, be sure it’s the right pet for your family.

Do you have a busy lifestyle? Are you away from home a lot? Who will take care of your pet(s) if you are not there? What type of budget do you have to feed and care for your pet?

For those reasons and more, many families will make the choice to adopt a “small animal.” A small animal is typically a pet that will spend much of its time in a cage; a rabbit, ferret, hamster, guinea pig, parakeet, rat, mouse, or gerbil. Get a cage, fill it with bedding and give it food and water, what could be simpler, right? WRONG!

Did you know that small animals need just as much, if not more stimulation than many other pets? Because these pets spend much of their time in a cage, it is very important to be sure they are getting proper exercise, nutrition and attention. They are more social than many people think.

Some other important factors to consider are:

  1. How long will our pet live
  2. Who will be the primary care-giver for our pet
  3. How active is our pet
  4. What type of time commitment will I need to care for our new pet

Many small animals have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lifetime and need things to chew on so their teeth can remain healthy. Rabbits, guinea pigs and other small pocket pets will need appropriate outlets for their chewing!

Small pets are also sensitive to extreme temperature changes and can have delicate respiratory systems. Being sure that their bedding is appropriate for their species as well as keeping their living space clean and dry is critical.

Just like dogs and cats, small animals need food, water and shelter. They also need attention, mental/physical stimulation and veterinary care.

Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control has many small animals available for adoption including rabbits and small birds ($10), guinea pigs, mice rats, gerbils and hamsters (all $5 each) and ferrets ($50).

To see current availability visit www.fwacc.org and click the adopt link and choose other.

To learn more about what type of small pet would be right for your family, visit our website for Pet Care Tips.

The holidays are a great time for fun decorations, presents, and lots of good food.

Just remember that while the holidays are fun for you they can pose many un-suspecting dangers to your pets.

Christmas trees for example, can be very dangerous if your pet should ingest pine needles, ornaments, tinsel, or ribbon. If you use an additive in the water of a Christmas tree, cover the water with foil to keep your pet from drinking it. Always supervise your pets around decorations – especially those with electrical wires that a pet might chew or become tangled in.

Be sure to keep a close eye on doors leading to the outside. Many pets escape and become lost as the family come and go for festivities. Always keep a collar and identification tags on your pet for its safety.

After big family meals, be sure to seal the garbage and remove it from the home. Chicken, turkey, and ham bones are a real temptation and if chewed by your pet, could splinter and create an emergency situation. Food from the dining room isn’t the only danger waiting to make your pet sick. Many holiday plants can be poisonous, so be sure to keep them out of reach. All around avoid the temptation to indulge your pets. The best advice is to keep your animals diet the same as it is the rest of the year.

Presents are always nice, whether giving, or receiving. Just keep in mind that animals have a powerful sense of smell. If you give a gift of candy or food to some one with a pet, let them know that a pet might try to investigate it, so they can place the gift out of the pet’s reach.

Adopting a new pet can bring the best of holiday joy to any family. Discuss it with all your family members and think it through. An animal can have difficultly adjusting to busy schedules and excess activity, but for many families, the holidays can be about quiet time with those you love. Be sure if you are adding a new pet to your family this holiday season you do so knowing a new pet will do better with additional attention, learning a routine, and getting to know your expectations. Make the holidays a happy and safe experience for all – including your pets.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control.