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Take a Flight! A Rundown of Airline Pet Policies

If you have a flight booked and want (or need) to take your pet along, one of the first questions you have is likely about airline pet policies. Thankfully, lots of airlines are pet friendly. Read on for a summary of the pet policies of each of the major United States airlines.

General Rules & Reminders About Bringing Your Pet on a Plane

Each airline has different rules and regulations when it comes to traveling with pets, but here are some common things to keep in mind:

– Many airlines only allow pets on flights that are less than 12 hours long.

– Each airline has rules about kennel sizes, which may vary depending on whether your pet is in carry-on or cargo. Generally, their carrier should be big enough for your pet to move around in.

– Pets will not always be allowed on your flight if you’re making a connection.

– Snub-nosed cats and dogs may not be allowed onboard. Examples:

– Pets should be at least eight weeks old, but some airlines require them to be older.

– There may be a specific number of animals allowed on a flight, so book your pet’s spot ASAP!

– Each destination (especially international destinations) has its own restrictions and requirements. When flying internationally, check with the country’s embassy to ensure you follow their rules for bringing in pets. Hawaii, for example, has specific requirements, as does Australia.

– Service animals are allowed on all flights, but double-check with your airline about their guidelines.

What to Bring When You Fly with a Pet

airline pet policy

American Airlines

The pet policy from American Airlines® (AA) allows you to carry-on or check cats and dogs for flights to and from specific destinations. They do not allow pets on transatlantic flights.

No matter how you would like to fly your pet, they must be eight weeks or older.

Carry-On Guidelines

If you wish to bring your pet with you onboard, they must be under 20 pounds. Their kennel counts as your carry-on bag and costs $125 each way. American Airlines restricts the total number of pets allowed as carry-ons, so reserve your pet’s spot as soon as you know you want to take them along!

Checked Guidelines

You can check up to 2 pets for $200 each. You must have their health certificates with you and register for their spots at least 48 hours in advance. If you are transporting your pet because you’re moving or adopting them from somewhere else, they’ll need specific documentation and preparation.

AA will not transport pets to certain cities during the summer due to heat.

Learn more about American Airlines’s pet policy: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/special-assistance/pets.jsp

Delta

Delta’s pet policy allows you to bring cats, dogs, and household birds on flights up to 12 hours. Your pet must be 10 weeks old for domestic travel and 16 weeks for international. Space is limited, so it’s essential that you notify Delta about your plans as soon as possible.

Carry-On Guidelines

The fee to carry your pet on a flight is $125. Their kennel should fit under the seat in front of you and counts as one of your two allotted carry-on bags. Although only one pet is generally allowed, if you have a nursing mother with a litter, the litter can come along.

Checked Guidelines

Checked pets must fly with Delta Cargo. This requires a separate ticket. Note that your pet may not be on the same flight as you if you choose Cargo.

Learn more about Delta’s pet policy: https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/special-travel-needs/pets.html

Frontier

The airline pet policy for Frontier allows for small pets on domestic flights, including:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Small birds
  • Rabbits

Only dogs and cats are allowed on international flights.

You can only bring your pet on as a carry on. Frontier no longer checks pets.

Carry-On Guidelines

To carry your pet onboard costs $75 per flight. Frontier Airlines advises that you pay in advance, during your booking. You may have to pay more if you wait until check-in.

Learn more about Frontier’s pet policy: https://www.flyfrontier.com/travel-information/family-pets

JetBlue®

Small pets, including dogs and cats, are allowed to travel as carry-on baggage with JetBlue. Their baggage areas are pressurized, which means you don’t have the option of checking your pet as cargo. Space is limited onboard, so book your spot as early as possible.

Their free program, JetPaws, makes flying with your pet easier and more comfortable.

Carry-On Guidelines

JetBlue requires that all pets have their vaccination and documentation with them. The fee is $100 each way.

Learn more about JetBlue’s pet policy: https://www.jetblue.com/traveling-together/traveling-with-pets/

Southwest® Airlines

Southwest welcomes cats and dogs to fly with them. Because Southwest experiences high temperatures in their baggage area, furry friends are only allowed to travel as carry-ons.

Carry-On Guidelines

Each flight costs $95. While you’re only allowed one carrier, you are welcome to bring two pets within the kennel. Southwest only allows pets on domestic flights and does not request health certificates. Only six pets are allowed on each flight, so ensure you book your loved one’s spot early.

Learn more about Southwest’s pet policy: https://www.southwest.com/pets/

airline pet policy

Spirit®

If you’re traveling with your pets and flying on Spirit Airlines, you can bring along dogs, cats, and birds, as long as the kennel remains under 40 pounds. They’re only allowed in carry-on and primarily only on domestic flights, although you can bring your dog or cat with you to Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

Carry-On Guidelines

Spirit’s fee to fly with a pet is $110 each way. They only allow four pets per flight, so book your furry friend’s spot as quickly as possible. You won’t be asked to produce a health certificate, but your pet should be eight weeks or older.

Learn more about Spirit’s pet policy: https://customersupport.spirit.com/hc/en-us/articles/202096926-Does-Spirit-Airlines-allow-pets-on-board-

United®

United offers pet owners several options for traveling with pets. Small animals are allowed to fly, including:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Rabbits

United recently partnered with American Humane to ensure their transportation service, PetSafe, gives your pet the best flight possible. The team is made up of professionals, and the program has climate-controlled vehicles. If you have a long connection, PetSafe provides onsite and offsite accommodations. Customer service for their program is available 24/7.

Carry-On Guidelines

The number of pets allowed to be carried on a United flight is only six, so make sure you save your pet a spot. The fee is $125 and may be more if you have long connections.

Checked Guidelines

If you wish to check your pet, you’ll need health certificates and have to meet specific crate requirements. The fee you pay is based on the weight of your pet and carrier.

Learn more about United Airlines’s pet policy: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/animals.html

If you’re traveling with your pet, it’s important to do your research into your airline’s pet policies but also the requirements of your destination, especially if you’re flying internationally. Each airline is slightly different, so speak with the agents to ensure you meet the rules for your pet. Learn more about any airline’s rules, restrictions, or requirements on their website or by calling their customer service line.

If you’re traveling with your dog or cat in the near future, your airline may require vaccination records or a health certificate. We’re happy to help! Give us a call at 281-693-7387 to set up your pet’s pre-takeoff appointment.

And if you decide to keep your pet at home while you fly, we offer safe and comfortable boarding facilities. Learn more about them here!

What Is a Pet Microchip, and Why Is It Important?

When you take your new kitten or puppy in for their first checkup, you know to get the first round of shots: distemper, rabies, heartworm, kennel cough, etc. Your vet probably asked you about getting a microchip as well. But why does it matter?

If you’re not sure how a microchip works (or how the process of getting one works), or you’re just not convinced it’s that big of a deal, you’re not alone! Many pet owners don’t understand the importance of getting their new family members microchipped. Read on to find out all the ways it matters for the safety of your furry friend!

What Is a Pet Microchip?

If you are a new pet owner or haven’t had a pet in years (and look forward to bringing one home soon), you may not have heard of a microchip. Approximately the size of a grain of rice, the tool is used as electronic identification, like an ID card your pet never leaves home without. The information stored on the chip is saved on a database. With the swipe of a scanner, any veterinarian’s office or animal shelter can retrieve your pet’s information straight from the microchip.

Microchips aren’t only for dogs and cats! They can also be used for ferrets, horses, and other small mammals that become part of human families.

Note: The information stored on a microchip can only be accessed if the animal is brought to a shelter or vet and scanned. They don’t act as GPS trackers.

Why Would You Want Your Pet to Have a Microchip?

There is a big, glaring reason to microchip pets: To recover those that get lost. Shelters take in about eight million animals each year. Many of them are lost pets, and few owners ever find them. About 15% to 20% of dogs are picked up by their owners from shelters, and only 2% of cats return home.

Fortunately, most animal shelters and veterinarians have the scanners needed to read microchips’ information. When a shelter worker or vet tech passes the scanner over the microchip, they retrieve whatever information is on it. Usually, it contains the pet owner’s contact information, including:

  • Name
  • Pet’s name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Sometimes email

Some microchips also include the veterinarian’s contact info as an extra precaution if the owner’s information is not kept up-to-date.

If your pet gets lost, you don’t have to wait around for a vet or shelter to call you! Notify the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip. Some manufacturers have a system in place to contact all shelters, rescues, and vets to notify them of your missing animal. Check out this post for even more tips for finding your lost pet.

Need a bonus reason to have your pet microchipped? A microchip can’t get lost.

Collars can fall off or be ripped off. Cats are notorious for getting rid of them. But a microchip can’t be tossed!

Of course, that doesn’t mean your pet shouldn’t wear a collar. If a good Samaritan finds your lost dog or cat without one, they could believe he’s a stray and not approach him. A collar with ID tags is noticeable to passerby.

microchip pets

How Do You Get a Microchip? 2 Simple Steps

Step 1: Go to the vet.

Microchipping a pet is very similar to giving them any shot or vaccination. Using a hypodermic needle, the microchip is implanted, usually between the shoulder blades. If you are getting your pet spayed or neutered soon, that appointment is a great time to schedule microchip implantation. Under anesthesia, your furry friend won’t feel a thing.

Step 2: Do your part.

There are steps you need to take after your pet is microchipped. In most cases, you will have to send a packet of information to the manufacturer of the microchip. This is extremely important. If you forget to complete this paperwork, the manufacturer may not have the information needed to contact you if your cat or dog gets lost and then found.

Don’t forget: This is also the case if you move. Review and update your information regularly to ensure your pet can return home.

If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, make an appointment with your vet to get one! Ask which microchips are commonly used in your area. Most shelters and vets use a universal scanner, which can detect any type of microchip, but some use only specific scanners, meaning your pet’s microchip could go undetected. You may also want to call the shelters in your area to determine if they’re using universal scanners. (If they aren’t, request that they get one!)

Losing a furry family member can truly bring heartbreak to the family. You can take preventative measures by keeping an eye on your animals, not letting them outside alone, and microchipping your pets. All these things can help them stay where they belong, but if they do get loose, don’t give up hope! Some dogs and cats are found days, months, or years after they disappear. One family was reunited after a whopping ten years all thanks to a microchip!

If your pet isn’t yet microchipped, we suggest you make an appointment as soon as possible. If your pet gets out, it’s important they can get back home. Give us a call at 281-693-7387 to learn more about keeping your pet safe today.

How Old is My Puppy? How a Veterinarian Makes Their Best Estimate

If you just adopted a new dog, you may be asking yourself, “How old is my puppy?” It can be difficult to tell on your own, but it’s must-know information. Not only will half the people you meet on a walk ask you, but your dog’s age can have a big influence on his:

  • Activity level
  • Required medications
  • Dietary needs

You don’t have to guess! Your veterinarian can give you a close estimate.

If you brought home a new fur baby, it’s time to schedule an appointment! A check-up is a must for any new pet. Give Cinco Ranch Vet a call at 281-693-7387 to see how healthy your dog is, get his first shots, and receive an age estimate.

First Steps to Determining a Dog’s Age…

Start with the Information You Were Given

If you’ve adopted from a shelter, were given a dog by a family member, or adopted from Craigslist or a flyer, it may be possible you know exactly how old your dog is already. The family member or original owners can likely tell you, and shelters often keep detailed records on dogs dropped off by previous owners or that came in from other shelters.

This is information you can relay to your vet to help them make their estimate.

Know How Dogs Age—by Breed and Size

Different sizes and breeds of dogs age differently. Larger dogs stay in puppyhood longer. They tend to be considered puppies until they are 2 years old, while smaller and medium-size dogs are thought to be adults by 15 months at the latest.

It’s also important to look at just how long different-sized dogs live. Large dogs have shorter lifespans; Saint Bernards, for example, tend to live between 8 and 10 years. English Springer Spaniels—medium-sized dogs—generally live 10 to 14 years, and Yorkshire terriers reach the age of about 16. Knowing these ages and when your pup might reach senior status can help you determine his age now.

how old is my puppy

 

How Your Vet Estimates the Age of Your Puppy

Determining the exact age of a puppy is much easier to do than estimating the age of an older dog.

Teeth

Teeth provide a wealth of information! For example, milk (or baby) teeth only start to appear at one month old. Your pup’s permanent canine teeth arrive at about five months, and the rest of his teeth, including back molars, will come in over the next two months. As your pup nears one year old, ridges and bumps will be visible along their incisors, but these will wear down as they age.

Behavior

Puppies, in general, are easy to spot due to their rambunctious nature.

Physical Features

Large paws and ears, loose skin, and, of course, small size are all signs that a dog is still in puppyhood.

How Your Vet Estimates the Age of a Dog Past Puppyhood but Not Yet a Senior

As a dog gets older, it can be a bit more difficult to pinpoint his age.

Teeth

Tooth wear is a great indicator: The ridges of a one-year-old are about half worn away by four years old. By seven years, those ridges and bumps will be completely gone.

Dental disease can also be an indicator, but breed type and size come into play here. For example, smaller dogs tend to be more prone to dental disease than large pups. This isn’t an exact science, however. Although tartar tends to build up starting around age four, some dogs won’t get tartar until they’re seniors.

Looking at changes in your pup’s teeth and behavior can help narrow down his age, but during this time period, it can be hard for even a vet to have an exact answer to the question, “How old is my dog?”

How Your Vet Estimates the Age of Your Senior Dog

Breed and Size

For each breed and size of dog, there is a different year at which they reach “senior” status. For example, a larger dog that doesn’t live as long as a smaller dog may hit senior status at only age six.

Physical Signs

Signs of a senior dog that a vet looks for include:

  • Hearing or vision loss
  • Fat pads on the lower back or elsewhere on the body
  • Fur turning white or gray
  • Decreased muscle
  • Cloudy eyes

Behavior

Less—or less enthusiastic—playtime can also be a big indicator of a senior dog.

At this age, special diet, medications, and extra care may be needed to ensure your pup’s health. If you notice cloudy eyes, a limp, indoor “accidents” even though he’s housebroken, or cataracts, make an appointment with a vet for your senior pup. Even though they are less active at this age, there are plenty of ways to help them be more comfortable in their golden years.

how old is my puppy

Why Age Matters

Knowing the age of your puppy is essential to taking care of your newest family member because age is vital to understanding their needs, from dietary to play! If you’re unsure what diet your dog may need based on their age, ask your vet for suggestions. Knowing how old your pup is can also help you prepare for his senior years when it comes to medication, comfort, and overall medical needs.

If you recently brought home a new puppy or dog, schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your veterinarian. We’ll help ensure your new pup is healthy, administer their first shots, spay or neuter them, and provide them with a microchip and an age estimation. Call us at 281-693-7387 to schedule your dog’s first appointment. We’re looking forward to meeting them!

4 Unique Houston Animal Rescues

There are thousands of pets across the country that are looking for homes. The Houston area is no exception! In addition to the typical rescue organizations that do great work, there are several unique, smaller animal rescues in town. You may find your next family member among them!

Here are just four of Houston’s most unique animal rescues. Learn what makes them so special.

1. Friends for Life

Friends for Life, known for running the Don Sanders Adoption Center, is the only no-kill, LEED certified animal rescue in Houston—and Texas!

The rescue provides:

  • Adoption
  • Spay/neuter services
  • Pet assistance
  • A medical clinic (coming soon)

Since 2008, Friends for Life has seen a 580% increase in adoption and is so proud of the 75% adoption rate for animals that were deemed “unadoptable” by other shelters. Dogs staying at the rescue until they find forever homes enjoy sniff holes and plenty of space. Cats are cage-less, with room to climb—even up to the skylights!

Beyond getting animals adopted, the shelter is committed to keeping families together, no matter the obstacles. For local families and communities that can’t afford to spay or neuter their pets, Friends for Life offers free fix services, in partnership with the Houston animal rescue, BARC. One unfixed female cat could potentially have more than 100 kittens in her entire lifetime. That could lead to 420,000 kittens in 7 years! To avoid cats being the most-killed animal in shelters, they need to be spayed or neutered. Friends for Life has done over 1,700 cat surgeries in just 3 years.

Friends for Life also understands that pet owners could potentially run into financial issues that make keeping their pets difficult. Their answer is offering assistance to ensure a lifetime with pets. This includes a food bank, assistance with animal containment and fences, grants for vets, and even free behavioral services. In the future, the Houston animal rescue will open a medical clinic to offer affordable pet care for those in financial straits.

2. Texas Wolfdog Project

The Texas Wolfdog Project is a newer Houston animal rescue, started in 2013. Wolfdogs are usually half-dog, half-wolf, but can be any combination of the two. Unfortunately, they are often subjected to misrepresentation, negligence, misunderstanding, and death.

While they’re certainly intriguing, wolfdogs don’t make good pets for owners who are uneducated about the breed. Many people who buy a wolf or wolfdog love the idea of owning one but are ill-equipped to handle the animal. When bored, wolfdogs can become destructive, especially with their increased prey drive, and can tear apart yards, homes, and more. Also, wolves howl, and a wolfdog is no different; it will howl at all hours of the night. The Texas Wolfdog Project hopes to educate the public about the care that this breed requires.

Often, when a breed is labeled “wolf,” it is automatically put down. The Texas Wolfdog Project steps in to help these dogs, giving them a second chance at life with more educated and responsible owners. The Project’s adoption process is lengthy and in-depth, so each dog gets its best chance.

3. K-9 Angels Rescue

A smaller animal rescue in Houston is the K-9 Angels Rescue. Focusing purely on dogs, it relies on a network of volunteers and foster families rather than its temporary adoption center. K-9 Angels Rescue does not accept animals from the public, but pulls adoptable dogs from kill shelters where they face death.

Each dog that is pulled from one of the area’s kill shelters remains with the rescue until it is adopted, often living in foster homes or with volunteers. K-9 Angels focus on finding the right family and the best match for each dog before adopting it out.

The mission of K-9 Angels Rescue is to ensure that as many of Houston’s dogs as possible do not face death just because they were abandoned, orphaned, rejected, surrendered, or neglected. The rescue is constantly looking for volunteers and eligible foster families.

4. CAP

One Houston animal rescue that Cinco Ranch Vet is proud to work with is CAP (Citizens for Animal Protection). Although CAP’s main mission is rescuing homeless animals and finding families for them, it also stands strongly:

  • Against animal cruelty
  • For the education of the public
  • For the respect of animal life

Since the 1970s, CAP has found forever families for Houston’s homeless, abused, and unwanted animals. Currently, it has one of the highest adoption rates in the country, and its program is award-winning. It also offers senior citizens the ability to adopt any pet over seven years old for free.

Unlike many shelters, where you choose a pet, CAP requests that all potential adopters fill out a “Pet Match” request card. This helps you and the rescue find the pet that fits your needs and lifestyle as well as the animal’s. In addition to dogs and cats, CAP rescues rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles, and more.

CAP is also extremely dedicated to raising awareness about the treatment of pets throughout the Houston area and the nation. Its mission is to create an aware and responsive community that shows compassion for animals. Thanks to CAP’s efforts, thousands of pets in our city have found families and loving care.

When looking for your new family member in the animal rescues around Houston, the best place to start is online. Through education and research, you can learn about the compassion, respect, and work that goes into saving homeless animals. If you’re on the search for a fur-baby, check out the four rescues mentioned here. There are hundreds of animals around our city just waiting for loving homes!

Why Exotic Animals Should Not Be Pets

Have you been to the zoo lately and dreamed of owning a tiger? How about a bear? Or a monkey? It may just be a fun fantasy for you, but there are many across the country who take their dreams of owning an exotic animal and make them come true. But most people are not equipped to own them.

What is an exotic animal? In the United States an exotic animal could be a(n):

  • Anteater
  • Leopard
  • Tiger
  • Elephant
  • Foreign domestic cow
  • And more

Here are just a few of the problems that arise when exotic animals become pets:

They require research and special care.

All pets require some type of research. What type of collar should you get your dog? How do you take your cat for a walk?

If you’re buying a specific breed of dog, it’s important to know what to expect. For example, a border collie will require plenty of exercise (and then more on top of that), but a pug is a bit more relaxed.

The research that goes into safely and successfully owning an exotic animal is very different from owning a dog or a cat. Each animal—tiger, snake, monkey, etc.—requires special:

  • Care
  • Habitats
  • Enrichment
  • Diets
  • Maintenance

Many homes and yards are not equipped to safely house an exotic animal. Some owners attempt to avoid providing the proper care by declawing, chaining, or abusing. Just like any animal, if an exotic pet is not given the care it needs, it may become aggressive, depressed, or ill. Owners who have taken on exotic animals often become overwhelmed by the care they need, and the animals are given to zoos or sanctuaries.

They can be dangerous to you, others, and the ecosystem.

Another reason exotic animals shouldn’t be pets is the danger they present—to the owner and to the public. Since 1990, big cats have killed more than 19 people in the country. This does not include the hundreds of injuries that have been reported and gone unreported. Big cats, snakes, monkeys, and other exotic animals are wild, not domestic, and can be extremely dangerous. Often, they don’t adjust well to captivity.

Exotic animals are much easier to acquire now due to the Internet, and some estimate that there are almost 5,000 tigers kept by people across the country. Unfortunately, the animal attack rate has stayed steady over the last 20 years. Born Free USA, an advocate organization against the ownership of exotic animals, lists The Dangers of Keeping Exotic “Pets”, which include lions, tigers, wolves, bears, reptiles, non-human primates.

If an exotic pet escapes its enclosure, it can present a serious risk to the public. This is especially true if the exotic pet is kept in an enclosure too small for its needs and isolated from its kind or any interaction. In 2011, 49 animals were killed in Ohio after the man who owned them set them free and then took his own life. Some were put down by police and other law enforcement, a big cat was hit by a car, and one monkey—likely infected with the herpes B virus—was unaccounted for several days after the event. Witnesses described the animals showing aggressive behavior and lions attacking the other exotic pets at the preserve.

Snakes are a common exotic animal that are often released or escape from their enclosure, as seen in Florida. The Everglades is fighting a battle against the Burmese python, a snake that doesn’t belong in the state or even the United States. Some of the pythons may have gotten away from a facility after Hurricane Andrew, while others may have been released when they became too large to care for, or they simply escaped. Difficult to find, they are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem and have nearly wiped out the local raccoons, opossums, and rabbits.

They pose potential health risks.

Exotic animals can pose serious health risks to the community. Monkeys, for example, bite to show dominance, which may cause infection or bone deformities. Macaque monkeys often carry the herpes B virus, adding another layer of danger to their bites. Transferred through saliva, it is usually fatal for humans. Monkey pox, Ebola, and other illnesses can also be transmitted via monkey bites.

Reptiles, such as turtles and snakes, also have the potential to be a health risk; that’s primarily because 90% carry salmonellosis. It’s estimated that 93,000 cases of the illness in the country are due to reptiles, and the animals don’t show symptoms. To avoid catching salmonella, always wash your hands after handling reptiles, a reptile’s cage, or anything a reptile has touched. Never put a reptile near your mouth. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems avoid all reptiles.

Owning exotic animals could be against the law.

There are several federal, state, and local laws either prohibiting or regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals in Texas and the United States. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prevents the sale of endangered species but does not stop private possession. The Public Health Services Act prohibits importing primates for personal use.

Texas requires citizens to have a license or permit to obtain and possess an exotic animal. A person interested in getting a permit must submit several materials, including:

  • The location the animal will be kept
  • Photos of their enclosure
  • Liability insurance
  • Veterinary inspections
  • Fees

Each certificate must be renewed annually.

While it is not against the law to own exotic animals in Texas as a whole, that’s not the case in Houston. The city bans any animal considered wild by nature. This includes lions, foxes, gorillas, elephants, and venomous reptiles.

Spend time with exotic animals!

Almost everyone can agree that exotic animals are amazing to watch and learn about. While it’s probably not a great idea to own one, there are several places to see and even interact with them in a safe manner.

Check out:

  • Zoos
  • Aquariums
  • Sanctuaries

Owning an exotic animal may seem like a fun and exciting idea, but there are several reasons why they should stay in the care of very educated owners, zoos, or the wild, and the examples listed above are only a few. If you are still interested in owning an exotic animal, do careful research into every aspect of owning the pet, including your local laws and the animals’ needs, diet, and behavior, so you can ensure that you and your pet stay healthy and happy.

Microchipping and 3 Other Actions You Can Take, So Your Pet Never Gets Lost

As a pet owner, there’s no worse feeling than walking outside to check on your pet and realizing it’s missing. By taking the necessary precautions, you’ll never have to experience that horrible realization.

Here’s how to ensure your pet never gets lost!

1. Outfit your pet with a collar and tag.

Whether Fido is lazing around in your backyard or playing with his friends at the Katy Dog Park, you always need to make sure he is wearing his collar and tag. Not only will this help to make sure your dog is returned to you if he does get out of sight, it’s also the law.

On the dog tag, you’ll want to include:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • Proof that your dog has been vaccinated for rabies

A lot of people include their dog’s name on their collar, but this might not be the best idea. Dog theft is a growing problem, especially of rarer breeds. If a potential dog thief knows your pup’s name, it can be easier for them to get your dog to follow them.

A collar or harness with a unique color or design is also a great idea. This will make your pet significantly easier to identify if it does get lost. It’s much easier to single out a dog in a pink-and-purple striped collar with rhinestones than a plain black one!

While it seems more obvious to outfit a dog with a collar and tags, they’re important for cats too, especially if Fluffly wanders around outside on her own.

microchipping

2. Embrace technology by microchipping.

Microchipping your pet is a MUST if you want to keep it safe and ensure that it never gets lost. Think of a microchip as your pet’s 9-1-1 call if it ever finds itself in a strange place, away from you.

A microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice, and it’s a quick and painless procedure to have it inserted under the animal’s skin. It’s placed in your pet’s back between its shoulder blades. The material of the microchip is harmless to your pet, and tissue will actually start growing around the chip about a day after insertion.

Once it’s inserted under your pet’s skin, your vet will scan the microchip and link it to your personal information. This process can take a few days to register with the identification system, so be extra careful to keep close tabs on your pet while your microchip registration is being processed. Once you’re in the system, all you have to do is keep your vet up-to-date with any new contact information.

The first thing that just about every shelter, vet’s office, and animal control office does when they find a lost animal is scan it for a microchip. It’s like your pet’s “get out of jail free” card; as soon as they run the microchip, they’ll call you right away, so you can bring your furry friend home.

3. Introduce your neighbors to your pet.

The vast majority of pets who get lost don’t actually go very far. The place that your pet is most likely to get turned around is right in your own neighborhood. Getting your neighbors acquainted with your pets will ensure that if they wander out of your yard and into a neighbor’s, they’ll be back on the right side of the fence in no time.

Make sure that all of your neighbors know your pet’s name, what it looks like, and any other information that might help to identify it. You might even go the extra mile and introduce your pet to all of your neighbors. If it gets lost and then found by a neighbor, your pet will already be familiar and comfortable with them.

4. Fence-in your yard.

If you don’t want your pet to get lost, one fairly obvious fix is to make it a bit more difficult for your furry friend to wander off. A great way to do this is to fence your yard.

Depending on the size of your yard, the size of your pet, and your budget, you have a few different options.

Wooden Fencing

Wooden fences are an attractive option if you have a larger pet that can easily jump over other types of fences. They can be built up to six or seven feet high, depending on your property. That’s tall enough to keep even the largest animals from clearing the top.

Be mindful that there’s a certain amount of upkeep associated with wooden fences. Just like any wood paneling or furniture, you’ll need to keep up with maintenance to prevent peeling or rotting.

Chain-Link Fencing

Chain-link fences are an easier-to-maintain alternative to wooden fences. They typically consist of a number of posts spread around the perimeter of your lawn, connected by chain links made with durable wire.

A chain link fence is significantly easier to maintain than a wooden fence. It’s also incredibly durable, so you won’t have to worry about your pet (or the elements) damaging your investment.

Electric Fencing

Electric fences are a great option if a physical fence won’t work on your property. An electric wire is installed underground. The place where the wire is installed creates the boundary of the “fence.” The electric wire transmits signals to a collar on your pet. If your pet gets too close to the border, the collar starts to beep. If the pet continues towards the border, the fence sends a mild electric shock to your pet, deterring it from getting any closer.

Keep in mind, this is a MILD electric shock. It’s not enough to do any harm to your pet. After getting “buzzed” a few times, your pet will learn the natural limits of the electric fence and won’t approach the borders anymore.

What if your pet does get lost?

If even after taking the necessary precautions, your pet gets lost, don’t panic. Stay calm, and alert Katy Animal Control (or the animal control nearest you) immediately. Let them know that your pet is missing. Then give them:

  • A full description
  • The last place someone saw your pet
  • Any medical issues your pet has
  • Any other helpful information to assist them in locating your four-legged friend

If your pet is tagged and microchipped, you should have it back in no time!

Our Top 6 Movie Pets -- Do They Make Your List?

There’s a pretty incredible bond between people and their pets. Never has that been captured so poignantly than in modern cinema. There’s something heartwarming about curling up in your chair with a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie about a man or a woman and their beloved pet.

What about the animals that go above and beyond on the silver screen, those that make us think, “I wish my pet could be like that?”

Here’s a countdown of our top six movie pets:

1. Shadow, Sally, and Chance — Homeward Bound

In Homeward Bound, three pets, Shadow (the wise golden retriever), Sally (the sassy Himalayan cat), and Chance (the mischief-making American bulldog), are left on a ranch while their family travels to San Francisco. Because of a series of miscommunications, they think that they’ve been accidentally left behind and take off to find their owners.

This trio is so dedicated to their owners, that they face waterfalls, mountain lions, and all types of danger across the Sierra Nevada mountains just to be reunited with their family. Shadow, Sally, and Chance are one of the best illustrations in cinematic history of the indescribable bond between a family and its pets.

movie pets

2. Scooby Doo — Scooby-Doo

Scooby Doo is more than just a favorite movie pet; he’s an icon! Since 1969, Scooby has been happily eating Scooby Snacks and helping Mystery Inc.—Fred; Daphne; Velma; and his loveable hippie owner, Shaggy—solve mysteries.

Scooby and the gang get themselves into some pretty scary situations, complete with ghosts, zombies, and just about every other supernatural ghoul you can imagine. But no matter how afraid Scooby might be, he never leaves Shaggy’s side.

Scooby is an amazing movie pet because no matter what happens and what crazy situations the gang finds itself in, his loyalty to Shaggy and Mystery Inc. never wavers.

3. Lassie — Lassie

You can’t compile a best movie pet list without mentioning Lassie. Lassie is, quite literally, a lifesaver. From her debut in 1943 all the way through her most recent incarnation in 2005, Lassie has been saving children’s lives. Whether she’s pulling little Suzy out of the river before she drowns or leading a search party to little Billy who fell down a well, Lassie’s signature story is swooping in to save the day when all seems lost.

Lassie just goes to show that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes—even on four legs!

4. Zero — The Nightmare Before Christmas

Bear with us here…we do realize that Zero isn’t a REAL dog. As Jack Skellington’s loyal companion, he’s definitely a pet of the supernatural nature. But that doesn’t make him any less amazing!

Zero sticks by Jack through his misguided attempt at stealing Santa Claus and leading the charge for everyone in Halloweentown to take over Christmas. When the world turns on Jack after his “Christmas” goes awry, Zero is right there to help him pick up the pieces and make things right.

Ghost or no ghost, Zero is the perfect example of the unconditional love a pet has for its owner and its willingness to stand by them through the good and the not-so-good.

5. Skip — My Dog Skip

My Dog Skip is one of those movies that makes you feel like you traveled back to another time. Taking place in the 1940s, the film tells the story of Willie Morris, a shy, nine-year-old boy, and his first dog, Skip.

Because of his shyness, Willie is a social outcast, with few friends. When Skip comes along, he not only becomes Willie’s best friend, he also helps him come out of his shell and step out of his comfort zone. As his constant companion throughout childhood, Skip pushes Willie to become a better person.

Skip shows us that true friendship doesn’t exist only between people. The friendship between a boy and his dog is just as real and just as special.

6. Hercules (also known as The Beast) — The Sandlot

Hercules, or “The Beast,” as he was known on the baseball diamond, is a movie pet of mythical proportions. The Beast is one of the main antagonists of The Sandlot. He’s the dog that guards the yard right behind the baseball field, and he’s known for gobbling up baseballs and, legend has it, children as well. If a ball goes over the fence, it’s as good as gone with The Beast guarding it!

But, it turns out, The Beast isn’t a beast at all; he is just a sweet old English mastiff. The biggest danger you face around him is getting too much slobber on your face after he covers you in kisses.

Hercules just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover—or a dog by its size.

How do you turn your pet into a movie pet?

If these awesome movie pets have inspired you, and you’re wondering how to turn your pet into a star in its own right, there are a few things you can do!

Invest in training.

Getting your dog properly trained is an absolute must. If your pet is acting out, being disobedient, or not quite living up to “movie pet” standards, the problem could be that it doesn’t know how it’s supposed to act. Finding a great trainer and following through on their training instructions can help bring out the best parts of your pet’s personality, elevating it to “movie pet” status in no time.

Get your pet regular checkups.

Your pet isn’t going to be able to save the day, show you fierce loyalty, or do any of the other amazing movie-pet things you just read about if it’s not feeling well. Make sure to bring it to the vet for regular checkups, so it’s in top movie shape at all times.

Love your companion unconditionally.

Whether your pet is more of a Lassie (racing in to save the day) or a Marley from Marley and Me (racing in to destroy the couch), the number-one thing you can do for you pet is to love it unconditionally. Every pet is different, but each one has unique traits that will change you, change your life, and change your own little movie forever.

It's Time to Learn These Potential Signs of Animal Neglect and Cruelty

Every day animal are abused. Dogs, cats, and more are mistreated by their owners or living in horrible conditions where they may end up dying, either because they’re malnourished or because of wounds. Dogfighting rings exist around the world; innocent dogs are trained to harm each other for profit and entertainment.

Why someone would hurt pets, we may never know. The only thing pet lovers can do is intervene when we suspect that someone is abusing an animal. But what are the signs of animal neglect and cruelty?

What is animal abuse?

The words “animal abuse” get thrown around a lot, and it’s important to know what you are seeing and talking about when it comes to such a serious topic.

There are two forms of animal abuse: neglect and intentional cruelty.

Neglect

Neglecting an animal simply means that the owner isn’t giving their pet the things it needs. The owner doesn’t feed or water their pet enough, and the shelter they provide for their pet may not be adequate—without enough shade, warmth, or space.

Neglect is more than likely unintentional. The owner may not know how to take care of an animal, yet adopted one anyway. Sometimes all it takes to solve the problem is some education about proper care and compassion.

Intentional Cruelty

Intentional cruelty occurs when an owner deliberately harms their pet. Hurting or maiming a pet counts as intentional cruelty. So does forcing an animal to fight other animals and intentionally starving a pet. These people need to be brought to justice, or, at the very least, get help.

Signs of Animal Neglect or Cruelty

Chained Dogs

Restraining a dog to an object is also known as tethering. Many people tether their dogs without realizing that it might be doing their pet harm.

Dogs are social and mobile animals. Every dog craves attention, and the owners of chained dogs may forget that the dog is there—out of sight, out of mind. Dogs need to roam around. When a dog is restrained, it may become mentally scarred, perhaps aggressive.

Most owners who chain their dogs don’t do so out of malice. Some chained dogs may have longer leashes, allowing them more space to roam, but the risks still remain. Tethering tends to be more common in rural locations, and an owner may do it because it’s tradition or convenient. The owner may not want to keep their dog indoors all day and cannot build a fence, or tethering might be done because the owner doesn’t want the dog to run away.

 

If you see a dog being tethered consistently, keep an eye on its physical state to determine whether it’s being neglected.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition occurs when an animal doesn’t get enough food or water. A malnourished dog will likely have an oily, dull coat and appear to be skinnier than it should be. A malnourished dog may also have diarrhea or vomiting, hair loss, and flaky skin.

For cats, the symptoms are mostly the same but also include poor coordination, neuroticism, caved-in claws, and swollen gums.

Note: An obese pet may be suffering from neglect, too. Dog obesity can lead to a slew of health problems, including diabetes, failing joints, and an early death.

Physical Signs

An abused animal may have unusual scars and other wounds on its body.

Behavioral Signs

The animal may appear nervous around its owner, cowering, whimpering, or displaying other strange behaviors.

Signs from the Owner

Observe the owner’s behavior. Do they strike their animal whenever it does something wrong? We’re not talking about a bop on the nose, but rather hitting the animal with full force. If you suspect the owner to be involved in dogfighting, look for training equipment, like treadmills and fighting pits.

If the owner has a history of domestic abuse, they have a higher chance of abusing animals. About 70% of battered women reported their abuser hurting their pets as well.

What Should You Do?

First, look at the laws, which may vary depending on your state. In Texas it is a felony to abuse animals.

For an animal that has been neglected out of ignorance, try talking to the owner and explaining how their animal is being neglected. Be factual, don’t be condescending, and have evidence ready. That may be all it takes for the owner to correct their mistakes and give their pet a great life.

Of course, some people don’t like being told they’re wrong. If you feel like the animal is in immediate danger, or if you feel uncomfortable approaching the owner, contact your local law enforcement immediately. The report you file should be confidential.

If you don’t believe the animal is in immediate danger, fill out a Texas SPCA animal cruelty report here.

Adopt!

If an animal has been abused, and you have room for a pet in your life, give it a second chance! While some abused animals may be afraid of humans, with a little love, you’re likely to turn them into loving pets.

For those who live in the Katy area, click here for a list of animal shelters. You can search for an animal’s history and give an abused animal the love and compassion that its owner could (or would) not

Why Birds Make Great Pets!

Having a pup or a feline around the house is ideal for many people, but not everyone can have a furry companion. Maybe your apartment has a strict policy against furry friends, or perhaps you’re allergic to dogs or cats (though it is still possible to own a pet while being allergic). Or perhaps you need a pet that’s lower maintenance and doesn’t require so much money.

You’re in luck! The perfect pet for you might just be a bird. While pets such as iguanas, hamsters, and fish are fun to own, birds deserve appreciation too! Here’s why.

Birds are low-maintenance and inexpensive.

You don’t typically have to worry about whether you’re spending enough time with your bird. A bird doesn’t need constant petting, doesn’t have to be taken outside every day, and you don’t have to groom a bird in order to avoid shedding.

You do have to clean out a bird’s cage once a day, if that. Feeding it is a breeze, and bird food doesn’t break the bank, either.

Birds are quite intelligent.

Parrot

When we think of intelligent animals, we often think of crafty cats or a dogs that have learned many tricks. However, your feathered friend can be trained to learn some neat tricks; it’s anything but bird-brained. While Fido can howl in a way that resembles human speech, a bird such as a parrot can learn human speech to a T.

Birds can be quiet.

Many dogs bark at anything, even their shadows, and many cats will yowl for food. You may think that Polly will keep you awake with her cawing, but you only need to do one thing to make sure she doesn’t wake you up. Just cover the cage, and your bird will be quiet. And when the cage isn’t covered, many birds sing beautiful songs.

Birds may not cost extra rent money.

If the reason why you don’t want a dog or cat is the pet deposit at your rental home, consider that with a bird you may bypass those fees. Many apartments don’t consider birds to be pets; however, always talk to your landlord or landlady to make sure Polly’s good to go.

Birds are lifelong pets.

It’s sad how short a dog’s life is compared to a human’s. If you don’t want a pet because you hate the idea of outliving it, a bird may be a good pet to get. Some birds can live as long as humans, if not longer. Different kinds have unique lifespans, but birds such as the macaw can live up to 100 years!

Now you know why birds make great pets. Consider getting a bird today!

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