Adopter Resources

After Adoption

Dog Adoption Packet

Congrats on adopting a new pup to your family! This is such an exciting time. After adopting, we will normally send an email to you with a PDF adoption packet that will help transition your new friend into your home. If you can't find the email, no worries! You can click the link below to access the packet here! Adoption Packet

Cat Adoption Packet

Congrats on adopting a new cat to your family! This is such an exciting time. After adopting, we will normally send an email to you with a PDF adoption packet that will help transition your new friend into your home. If you can't find the email, no worries! You can click the link below to access the packet here! Adoption Packet

What vets do we recommend?

We have a lot of veterinarians that we work with and most of them will offer a free check-up within seven days of adopting your new family member! The vets are listed below: Auburn: All Creatures Vet Clinic Auburn Vet Hospital East University Vet Hospital MAC Animal Clinic Moore's Mill Animal Hospital North Gay Vet Clinic Parkway Animal Hospital Pet Vet South College Vet Clinic Village Vet Carefree Cats (feline only mobile veterinary practice) Opelika: Animal Health Center Countryside Vet Clinic Opelika Animal Hospital Tigertown Vet Hospital Thornton Animal Hospital Smiths Station: Smiths Station Animal Hospital Loachapoka: Nature's Oasis Animal Hospital Saugahatchee Animal Hospital Alexander City: Wayside Animal Hospital Columbus: Affordable Veterinary Services

What is the Two Week Shutdown?

The Two Week Shutdown is a model we ask people to remember when bringing home a new furry friend, particularly a new dog. One of the biggest errors people make is rushing a dog into a new environment and world too fast. A shutdown allows them to destress and take a couple weeks to learn about their new world. For the first two weeks (sometimes it can be longer!), newly adopted dogs like to take in the new environment they are living in. They are trying to figure out which human (or dog) is in charge and who everyone is in general. By throwing in too much, too fast, the dog will get stressed and feels like it must defend itself which can result in fights and bites. We stress that for the first TWO weeks, allow the dog to get used to the new routine. Don't let the dog meet anybody that doesn't live in the home and make sure to set up a routine with them (i.e. when they get to go outside to use the restroom, when they get to play, when you come home from work/school, etc.). This allows the dog to get used to the new environment at a slower pace and will make things better in the long run!

What is the Rule of Three?

We also ask people that when they adopt a new dog into the home, they should follow the Rule of Three to allow the dog to get used to their new home. The Rule of Three is as follows: Three Days: "The Detox Period" At this time, your new furry friend will be getting used to the new home they are living in and this can be a stimulating time for them. They now have more space to move than in the shelter and for dogs that have been in the shelter for weeks/months/years, it can be a lot to take in. During the first three days, your new friend will either sleep most of the time or be excitable at all times. He will want to check out all the new smells and investigate his new home. He won’t know what you expect, where to go potty, or whether he’s allowed on the furniture; he won’t know that your shoe is not actually a chew toy, or that the kitchen trash is not where he is supposed to find his dinner. Be patient during these few days. Stick to a routine and make sure to use positive reinforcement when they do something correctly. It shouldn't take them too long to follow into the routine as long as you give them time and patience. Three Weeks: At this time, your dog is settling into your routine. He knows when you come and go and learns when the next meal is coming. He will understand when you get up at the same time each morning for a walk and that he gets fresh air as well. His true personality will start to come out and you'll see less of the nerves/excitement he had when you first brought him home. At this time you should also be able to tell what behavior issues he has, if any, and you will be able to determine if he is in need of extra training. There will still be bumps in the road, but they will be less frequent. Three Months: This is when your dog finally accepts that he is "home". It is a process to get to this point, but as long as you show patience, a bit of humor and a whole lot of love, you're sure to have a wonderful relationship with your furry friend.

What do we recommend for pet emergency plans?

We highly recommend including pets in your family's disaster plans. Please don't leave pets behind to fend for themselves! What to do now:

  • Visit your vet to make sure all vaccines are up to date, get a microchip and make sure to have any needed medications (heartworm/flea preventative, allergy meds, etc.).
  • If you live in a county that requires pet registration, make sure that is up to date.
  • Obtain a sturdy cage or carrier large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in. (One per pet recommended.)
  • Contact friends and family members to assist in sheltering your pet if needed.
  • Make a list of boarding facilities, veterinarians, and pet-friendly lodging that is on your evacuation route.
Prepare your pet's disaster kit and I.D. Wallet Make a waterproof pet ID wallet from a large zip-lock plastic bag to duct tape to the outside of the cage or carrier. Include the following:
  • Name of Pet and recent photo with owner.
  • Pet owner's contact info, veterinarian contact info and emergency contact info (other family).
  • Important I.D. such as microchip number, county pet registration and vaccination information.
  • Any special care instructions (medical needs, feeding specifics, fears, comfort tips, etc.)
Pet Disaster Kit:
  • Dogs: leash, collar, muzzles, current rabies tag
  • Minimum 7-day supply of food and water (non-electric can opener if needed)
  • Sturdy but lightweight bowls for food/water
  • Kitty litter, newspapers and plastic bags for waste disposal
  • Paper towels, bleach and hand sanitizer
  • Pet medications and refills (flea/tick/heartworm preventatives)
  • Comfort items (blankets and toys)

How do you transition an indoor cat to an indoor/outdoor or primarily outdoor lifestyle?

Before transitioning your cat, make sure that all vaccines are up to date, make sure the cat is spayed/neutered (no accidental litters!), and make sure the cat isn't declawed (declawed cats have a harder time living and surviving outside). A slow start is key to transitioning your cat to outdoor living! Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Make sure the cat in acclimated to the indoor home first. Each cat is different, but you should give them 4-6 weeks to acclimate to your home (whether that be inside or in a garage or barn.).
  • Feed your cat indoors and on a regular schedule. (Feeding outdoors can attract more cats as well as other wildlife. Feeding on a schedule helps establish a routine.)
  • Start with slow increments of time outside, starting with ten minutes. Keep an eye on them and don't leave them unsupervised.
  • Then bring them inside. Feed them a treat right after coming back inside. The tastier the treat, the stronger desire for them to come back when it's time. You can also use verbal cues such as a whistle or "It's time to eat." when feeding them to help associate meals with those words.
  • Develop a routine for letting them out during the day and bringing them back inside at night. Unless it will be a primarly outdoor cat, don't let your cat stay outside at night.

Need help with a recently adopted pet?

If you’re experiencing difficulties related to your pet, whether the problem is behavioral, financial, or otherwise, our pet owner outreach team would love to talk with you. To reach our pet owner outreach team, contact and provide a summary of your situation and questions that you have. Please keep in mind that we are not licensed veterinarians, all advice given is general, and our volunteer team is unable to verify if we can take in your pet or set up appointments for owner surrender.


Solving Barking Problems

It's perfectly normal for dogs to bark from time to time, but continual barking is a symptom of a problem that needs addressing--from the perspectives of your neighbors and your dog. First, you will need to determine when and for how long your dog barks and what causes him to bark. Talk to your neighbors if it is happening when you are not home, you can take a drive/walk around the block and listen for a bit or set up a camera/tape recorder when you leave. Listed below are common reasons your dog is barking so much. Social Isolation/Attention-Seeking This type of problem can occur when your dog is left alone for long periods of time without interacting with you, when he doesn't have toys or companions, if he's a puppy without an energy outlet or if he's an active breed (herding/sporting types) who needs to be occupied to be happy. Some recommendations to help with this type of problem:

  • Walk your dog at least twice daily.
  • Teach them fetch and practice as much as possible.
  • Take a dog training class with your dog.
  • Provide them with "busy" toys such as Kongs filled with treats.
  • If he is barking to get your attention, make sure he has sufficient time with you daily (playing, exercising, grooming, etc.).
  • If you have to leave your dog for an extended period of time, consider taking him to a "doggie day care" or hiring a pet sitter to come walk and play with him.
Territorial/Protective Behavior This type of issue may be the problem if the barking occurs in the presence of "intruders" (mail carriers, runners, people walking other dogs) or if when your dog barks, his posture appears "threatening" (tail held high, ears up and forward). Some recommendations to help with this problem:
  • Teach your dog a "quiet" command. In the middle of him barking, spray him with water or shake a can. This will momentarily stop the barking and you can pop a treat into his mouth and say "good, quiet". The water/noise shouldn't be punishment but rather a distraction. You can also try a toy if your dog is scared of the water or shake can.
  • Desensitize your dog to the cause of the barking. Teach him that those "intruders" are actually friends and good things happen when these people are around. Give them treats when they are quiet when people pass the house or when they come up to him.
  • Having your dog spayed/neutered can also help decrease territorial behavior.
Fears and Phobias This could happen when your dog's barking occurs during loud noises (thunderstorms, fireworks, construction) or if your dog's posture indicates fear (tail held low and ears back. To help with this type of problem, identify what is frightening your dog and try to desensitize him to it. It's possible that you made need professional help when doing so. You can talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications while you work to desensitize him. Make sure not to coddle your dog when he expresses fearful behavior so he doesn't think he is getting rewarded for it. Separation Anxiety This usually occurs when the barking takes place while you aren't home and usually starts right when you leave the house. Sometimes, this can be resolved usuing counterconditioning and desensitizing techniques. Successful treatment may also require anti-anxiety medications.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement involves giving your pet a treat or something pleasant (like toys or belly rubs) after they do something you want them to do. Your praise/reward makes it more likely that they will repeat that behavior in the future. Correct timing in essential when using positive reinforcement. The reward must occur immediately or your pet may not associate it with the proper action. Consistency is also essential. EVeryone in the family should use the same commands. Some of the most common commands are "sit", "stay", "down", "off", "come", and "leave it". Using Positive Reinforcement Positive reinforcement can include treats (food), praise, petting, toys or games. Food treats work especially well for training your dog. The treat should be enticing and should be a very small, soft piece of food. You want them to immediately gulp it down and look at you for more. Some examples include cheese, cut up hot dogs, cooked chicken and commercial treats. You can experiment to see which works best for your pet. Carry the treats in a pocket or small bag you can wear. Make sure to couple each food treat with a verbal reward ("Good dog!") in a positive, happy tone. *If your pet doesn't like treats, use pets or small amounts of play time as rewards.* When learning a new command, make sure to reward your pet every single time she does the behavior. Once they have learned the behavior, you can use intermittent reinforcement. As time goes on, reward your pet 75% of the time, then 50%, then 30% until you're only rearding them occasionally. Make sure to continue to verbally praise them every time. Your pet will soon learn that if they keep responding, they will get what they want (your praise and an occasional treat). The Pros and Cons of Punishment Punishment can be verbal, postural or physical and it means to give your pet something unpleasant immeidately after they do something you don't want them to do. To be effective, the punishment should be delivered while your pet is "caught in the act". If it is delivered too late, your pet will not associate the punishment with the behavior. Punishment delivered by you could dismantle your pet's trust which means you should use a shake can, air horn, keys, etc. so that it doesn't draw attention to yourself. When your pet perceives the "environment" to be delivering the punishment, they are more likely to not do it while you're away. If you have tried punishment and it doesn't work, you should stop using punishment and use only positive reinforcement. Never use physical punishment that can result in discomfort or pain. It will likely lead to your pet biting people to defend themself.

Puppy Mouthing and Play Biting

Is it a Puppy or a Shark? Just as we, humans, use our hands to explore, dogs use their mouth A LOT to explore, occupy themselves and interact. Canine mouths are equipped with sharp teeth and powerful muscles and it is very important for them to not only exercise their jaws by chewing on things, but also to learn how to control pressure to avoid hurting us and each other when they play. Puppies are the ones who bite and chew the most as they are learning how to play and eat. Sometimes, teething discomfort can be the cause of excessive chewing/biting, but puppies will normally play with their mouths to help them determine how gentle they need to be with their teeth. What should you do if your puppy mouths on you? If your puppy is younger than 18 weeks, mouthing is actually encouraged as it can help teach them how to be gentle. As long as the "bites" are relatively soft, you can let your puppy mouth on your hands, but when you notice harder bites, yelp like a hurt puppy and say "ouch" in a high-pitched voice. Immediately stop playing and leave them alone. After the short "time-out" you can resume play. If you continue to repeat this, your puppy will learn that biting too hard will result in the end of any fun and interaction for a short while. Later, after your puppy learns to be gentler with their mouth, you can yelp and stop play EVERY time they put their teeth on you. Important Tips

  • DO provide a wide variety of chew tows and redirect their attempts to chew if they try to chew inappropriate items (clothes and shoes).
  • DO use toys when playing. Using toys when you interact will help them develop habits of not tugging on clothes and/or hands.
  • DO provide opportunities for your puppy to play with other healthy, vaccinated puppies and adult dogs.
  • DON'T yell at your puppy for trying to mouth on you during play. They're only doing what's natural for puppies to do.

Destructive Chewing

A dog's favorite way to take in new information is by using their mouths and sometimes that can result in items being damaged. Fortunately, chewing can be directed onto appropriate items. Until your dog learns what they can and cannot chew, you will need to manage the situation as much as possible so they don't have the opportunity to chew on unacceptable objects. Taking Control

  • If you don't want something in your dog's mouth, don't make it available. Keep it out of your dog's reach.
  • Don't confuse your dog by offering them shoes and socks as toys and then expecting them to distinguish between your shoes and theirs. A dog's toys should be easily distinguishable from household goods.
  • Until your dog learns the house rules, confine them when you can't keep an eye on them.
  • Give your dog plenty of time and attention. They can't learn which behavior is unacceptable if they are playing by themselves.
  • If you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn't, interrupt them with a loud noise, offer them an acceptable chew toy and praise them when they take the toy in their mouth.
  • Have realistic expectations. It takes time for a new dog to learn the house rules.
  • Learn the reasons behind why your dog is chewing.
Boredom or Social Isolation Solutions
  • Play with your dog daily in a safe, fenced-in area. Playing fetch is a great way to use up your dog's excess energy.
  • Go for a walk. (Something longer than just a "bathroom" walk.)
  • Increase opportunities for mental stimulation. (teach them commands and practice them.)
  • Provide lots of appropriate toys
  • Rotate toys to refresh their interest.
Attention-Seeking Solutions
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of positive attention every day.
  • Ignore bad behavior (as much as possible) and reward good behavior.
  • Teach them "drop it" so when he does pick up something off limits, you can use this command and praise him when he complies.
Fears/Phobias Solutions
  • Provide a "safe place" for your dog.
  • Don't comfort or coddle when he's behaving fearfully. Try to get him to play with toys or practice commands that he already knows and praise him when he responds to you rather than the fear stimulus.
  • Don't crate your dog unless they consider their crate a safe place. If he isn't crate trained and you place him in there, he may injure himself or destroy the crate.
What NOT to Do Punishment is not effective in resolving destructive behavior problems and could possibly make the problem worse.

Fear of Thunder and Other Loud Noises

What to do:

  • Create a safe place. This needs to be a place they choose, not you. Make sure to watch where they go when they're frightened and if possible, give them access to that place. Think about using a fan or a radio in that place to help block out the noise. Try and help your dog associate positive things with that spot. Confining them when they don't want to be there will only cause more issues.
  • Distract your dog. This works best when your dog is just starting to get anxious. Immediately try and interest them in doing something they enjoy. Play with toys, practice commands that they know, etc. It may not keep the fearful behavior away the whole time, but it will help delay the start of it more and more each time you do it.
  • Use behavior modification techniques such as counterconditioning and desensitizing. They must be implemented gradually. They condition or teach your dog to respond in nonfearful ways to sounds/stimuli that previously frightened them.
What NOT to Do:
  • Do not attempt to reassure your dog when they are afraid. This could reinforce the fearful behavior and they will interpret it as a reward for being fearful. Instead, try to behave normally and act as if you don't notice the fearful behavior.
  • Do not put your dog in a crate to prevent hthem from being destructive. They will still be fearful in the crate and could likely injure themselves when attempting to get out.
  • Do not punish your dog for being afraid. Punishment will make them more fearful.
  • Do not force your dog to be close to the sound that frigthens them. This could make them more afraid and could cause them to become aggressive in attempting the escape.

How to Stop Your Dog from Digging

The reasons behind dogs digging can be varied. Your dog could be doing it for attention, entertainment, comfort, protection, escape, etc. The most effective way to approach the problem is to address the cause. Entertainment Solutions

  • Walk your dog at least twice daily.
  • Teach your dog to fetch a ball or frisbee and play as much as possible.
  • Teach your dog a few commands and practice them daily.
  • Keep interesting toys in the yard to keep your dog busy. Kong toys work really well for this.
  • For more "dedicated" diggers, provide an "acceptable digging area" with loose soil or sand.
Seeking Prey Solutions
  • Search for the sign of burrowing animals or insects and make your yard unwelcome to them. Make sure to avoid toxic materials that could be dangerous to your pet.
Seeking Comfort/Protection Solutions
  • Provide an insulated dog house with protection from wind and sun.
  • Try providing an "acceptable digging area" like mentioned before.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water in a bowl that can't be tipped over.
Seeking Attention Solutions
  • Don't give you dog attention when they dig. Remember that even punishment is attention.
  • Make sure your dog has sufficient time with you every day so they don't "misbehave" for attention.
Seeking Escape Solutions
  • Bury chicken wire at the base of the fence. Make sure to roll the sharp edges away from the yard.
  • Place large rocks, partially burried, along the bottom of the fence line.
  • Bury the bottom of the fence one to two feet below ground.
  • Lay chain-link fencing on the ground (anchored to bottom of fence) to make it uncormfortable, but not dangerous, for your dog to walk near the fence.

Calming the Fearful Dog

Fearful dogs have specific postures and other body languages that can help you determine when they are scared and what is causing it. Frightened dogs may lower their heads, flatten their ears, tuck their tails, pant, salivate, pace, tremble, etc. They could show submissive behaviors such as urinating on themselves, rolling over or even freeze and remain immobile. It is helpful to determine why your dog is fearful to begin with as it is easier to treat the behavior. However, if a dog is predisposed to general fearfulness or is not socialized correctly during a critical stage in growth, they will not respond as well to treatment as a dog who is fearful due to a specific event. Your first step is to rule out any medical causes of the fearful behavior. Then, you can try using either desensitizing or counterconditioning techniques. How to Desensitize

  • Begin by exposing your dog to very low amounts of whatever is causing their fear. For example, if they are scared of cars, start with your dog 100 ft away from a car.
  • Reward your dog for calm behavior and gradually move him closer to the car. As long as your dog remains relaxed, reward them with treats and praise. If they begin to show anxiety or fear, move them away from the car and go at a slower pace.
  • When they can remain calm beside a stationary vehicle, move them 100 ft away and have somebody drive by slowly. Again, gradually increase proximity and reward for calm behavior. Repeat the procedure as many times necessary, increasing the speed gradually.
  • This process can take upwards of days, weeks and even months. If you try to do it too quickly, you will not be successful
How to Countercondition
  • This is best performed in conjunction with desensitizing techniques.
  • While your dog is exposed to the fear stimulus, have them perform some obedience exercises such as "sit" and "down". Reward them for obeying and continue to have them obey as the stimulus is moved closer.
  • Don't ever use punishment or scolding to teach commands as you want your dog to associate pleasant things with the stimulus that frightens them.
Be patient with your dog as you work to calm them. It is likely you may need professional help if your dog begins to show aggressive behavior while trying to calm them. Medication prescribed by a veterinarian can also help for short periods of time What Not to Do:
  • Do not punish your dog for being afraid as they may become more fearful.
  • Do not try to force your dog to experience the things they are afraid of. For example, if your dog is scard of fireworks, do not take them to a fireworks show and make them stay while to show is happening.
  • Never punish your dog after they destroy or soil something out of fear. Dogs do not understand punishment after the fact. Punishment, in this case, will only do more harm than good.

The Canine Escape Artist

Dogswill escape your yard for a multitude of reasons such as social isolation, sexual roaming, fears, separation anxiety, etc. To prevent escapes, you need to determine how they are getting out of your yard and why. Social Isolation/Frustration Solutions Walk your dog daily. Play fetch. Teach them commands and practice daily. Keep your dog inside when you are unable to supervise them. If you must be away for an extended time, consider a "doggie day care" or ept sitter to give them attention during the day. Provide interesting toys such as Kongs or busy bones to keep them interested. Sexual Roaming Solutions Have your dog spayed or neutered. Studies show that having them fixed will lower the chance or roaming by about 90%. It is also a sure fire way to make sure no "accidental litters" occur with your dog or neighboring dogs. We have low cost spay/neuter options here. Fears/Phobias Solutions Identify what is frightening your dog and desensitize them to it. Keep your dog indoors if there is any chance they can encounter a fear stimulus outside (thunderstorms, cars, bikes, etc.) Provide a "safe place" for your dog. Separation Anxiety Solutions If your dog has been correctly diagnosed as having separation anxiety (displays strong attachment behaviors, escapes as soon as you leave, remains near home after escaping, etc.), the problem can be solved using desensitizing and counterconditioning techniques. Preventing Escape For climbing/jumping dogs: Add an extension to your fence. It doesn't need to make your fence much higher, as long as it tilts inwards at a 45 degree angle. You can also look at adding coyote-rollers to the top of the fence. For digging dogs: bury chicken wire at the base of the fence (with the sharp edges rolled inward) Never chain or tether your dog to a stationary object as a means of confining them. Tethering is not only cruel, but also leads to aggressive behaviors.

Understanding Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

From a dog's perspective, there is always a reason for aggressive behavior. Because aggression can be so complex (dogs aren't always displaying
"vicious" behaviors when being aggressive), it is recommended that you get in-home help from a specialist if your dog begins showing aggressive behavior.
Types of Aggression: Dominance This is motivated by a challenge to a dog's social status or to their control of a social situation. If your dog perceives their ranking as higher in the "pack" than yours, they'll potentially challenge you in certain situations. A dominant-aggressive dog may growl if they are woken from sleep or if they are asked to move from their position on a couch or bed. Even friendly physical restraint can result in your dog responding aggressively. These type of dogs can be very friendly when not being challenged. Fear-Motivated This is a defensive reaction and occurs when the dog believes they are in danger of being harmed. You have to remember that it is your dog's perception of the event, not your actual intent, that is triggering the repsonse. For example, when you raise an arm to throw a ball, the dog may perceive that you are about to hit them and will react defensively. Protective/Territorial/Possessive These are all very similar and involve defense of valuable resources (food/toys/beds/etc.). It can also be associated with defense of property. Protctive aggression refers to aggression directed toawrd people/animals whom a dog perceives as a threat to the family. Dogs become possessively aggressive when it involves toys, treats, food, etc. Redirected This is relatively common but also very misunderstood by pet owners. If a dog is being provoked by another person or animal, but cannot attack, they may direct the attack onto someone else that is within reach. What You Can Do:

  • Check with your veterinarian to rule out medical causes for the aggression.
  • Seek professional advice. Aggression issues will not go away by themselves.
  • Take precautions. Your first priority should be to keep other people and animals safe. Supervise, confine or restrict your dog's activities until you can seek out professional adice. Consider a muzzle when taking your dog out in public. You are liable for your dog's behavior.
  • Avoid exposing you dog to situations where they are more likely to be aggressive.
  • If your dog is possessive of toys or treats, prevent access to those items and you'll prevent the problem.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Intact dogs are more likely to display dominance, territorial and protective aggressive behaviors.
What Not to Do:
  • Punishment will NOT help and will often make the problem worse.
  • Don't encourage aggressive behavior.

Submissive and Excitement Urination

Submissive Urination Dogs who are threatened and lack confidence may urinate out of submission. They may also urinate when they are being punished or verbally scolded, or when they are approached by someone they perceive to be a threat. Submissive urination may resolve itself as your dog gains confidence. You can help this by teaching them commands and rewarding them for obeying. You should also gradually expose him to new people and new situations and try to make sure all his new experiences are positive. How to know if your dog has a submissive urination problem:

  • They urinate when being scolded.
  • They urinate when someone approached them
  • They are somewhat shy, anxious or timid dogs.
  • They urinate whil in submissive postures (crouching, tail tucking or rolling over).
What to do if your dog has a submissive urination problem:
  • Take your dog to the vet to rule out any medical reasons for the behavior.
  • Keep greetings low-key.
  • Encourage and reward confident postures (sitting and standing).
  • Avoid approaching with postures they can read as dominant (avoid direct eye contact, get down at their level, pet under the chin rather than the top of the head, approach from the side and not the front).
  • Don't punish or scold as it will make the problem worse.
Excitement Urination This occurs most often during greetings and playtime and is not accompanied by sumbissive postures. This will usually resolve as a dog matures, but it can persist if your dog is frequently punished or if the dog is coddled after they urinate when excited. What to do:
  • Let your vet rule out any medical reasons for the behavior.
  • To avoid accidents, play outside until the problem is resolved.
  • Don't punish or scold them.
  • Keep greetings low-key.
  • When they get over-excited, ignore them until they calm down.

Cat Aggression toward People

Types of Aggression Play: Play-motivated aggressive behaviors are commonly observed in young, active cats who live in a one-cat household. Kittens may bat at, pounce on and bite objects which to them resemble prey. Aggressive behaviors can be identified as play based by the situation in which they occur, by the cat's body posture, and the types of behavior displayed. Playful attacks usually result in scratches and bites that do not break the skin and often occur when an unsuspecting owner comes down the stairs, steps out of the bathtub, rounds a corner, or moves under a blanket. This type of aggressive play can be initiated by either the owner or the cat. You can contribute to this problem if you encourage kittens to chase and bite your hands and feet. "Don't Pet Me Anymore": It's not uncommon for a cat to suddenly bite while being petted and usually this behavior isn't well understood (even by behavioralists). The bite that comes while being petted is a signal that your cat has had enough petting. Cats can vary in how much they enjoy being held or petted. To make these bites easier to detect and less likely to happen, become more aware of your cat's body postures such as restlessness, tail twitching, ears flicking back and forth, or turning their head toward your hand. When you notice those signals, cease petting immediately and allow your cat to sit quietly in your lap or get up on their own. Physical punishment can and will make the problem worse as your cat will become fearful. Fearful/Defensive: Fearful cats display body postures that appear similar to canine submissve postures (crouching, ears back, tail tucked, etc.). These cats are not submissive and may attack if touched or approached. Redirected: This occurs when your cat is aroused by another person or animal and then redirects that aggression onto someone completely different. Territorial aggression is not commonly directed at people and is usually directed ar other animals. (Cats are highly territorial animals--even more so than dogs.) What to do:

  • Seek professional help. Usually, an aggressive problem will not go away on its own and it's best to speak to a behavioral specialist.
  • Take precautions. Know your cat's body postures and keep everyone around you safe.
What not to do:
  • Never attempt to handle a fearful or aggressive cat. Cat bites and scratches can be easily infected. (If you do get bitten or scratched by an aggressive cat, clean the wound and contact your physician immediately.)
  • Punishment will NOT help and will make the problem worse.

Cat Aggression toward Other Cats

Types of Aggressive Behaviors Between Cats Territorial: This occurs when a cat feels that their territory is threatened by an "invader". Behavior patters include chasing and ambushing the intruder, hissing, and swatting Territorial problems often occur when a new cat in introduced into the home, when a young kitten reaches maturity, or when a cat encounters other neighborhood cats outside. Inter-Male: Adult male cats normally tend to threaten and fight with other males. This can occur due to sexual challenges over a female or to achieve a higher position in the "hierarchy". It involves a lot of ritual body posturing, staring, yowling, and howling. When fights break out, cats are not normally injured due to the nature of the fight. Neutered males are much less likely to be involved in this type of behavior. Defensive: This occurs when a cat is attempting to protect themselves from an attack they cannot escape. This happens in response to punishment from a human, an attack from another cat or any incident that makes them feel fearful or threatened. Cat's will assume defensive postures (mush like submissive postures in dogs). Continuing to approach a cat in this posture will likely result in an attack. What you can do:

  • If your cat's behavior abuptly changes, contact your veterinarian first thing to rule out any medical concerns. Cats will normally hide symptoms until they're seriously ill and any change in behavior could be a symptom of an underlying health cause.
  • Spay and neuter all animals in the home.
  • Start the slow introduction process over from the beginning and try talking to an animal behavior specialist.
  • In extreme cases, consider talking to your vet about medicating your cat while working on behavior-modification programs.
What NOT to do:
  • Don't allow fights to continue. Cats are normally unable to "work things out" and the more often they fight, the bigger problem it becomes. To stop a fight, make a loud noise, squirt the cats with water or throw something soft at them. Don't try pulling them apart.
  • Leave fighting cats in the same area of the house. Seperate the fighting cats and keep them seperated while you try to work on the problem.
  • Don't punish the cats involved. Punishment will make the problem worse.

Desctructive Scratching in Cats

Cats scratch for many reasons: to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark their territory by leaving both a visual mark and a scent (they have scent glands on their paws), and to stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws. Scratching is a normal, instinctive behavior and you don't want to discourage it completely. Instead, your goal should be getting your cat to scratch acceptable objects, like a scratching post. What do cats scratch? Most cats are attracted to anything with a nubby, coarse or textured surface, or something they can really sink their claws into. When do they scratch? When they wake up from a nap, when they want to mark their territory or when they’re excited about something, like you coming home from work. How do they scratch? Some cats like to stand up against a vertical surface; others get horizontal and stick their butts in the air for a good stretch. Present alternatives Don't scratch here Once you've figured out your cat's preferences, you're halfway to the finish line. Scratching behavior depends mostly on texture, so cover off-limits spots with things your cat will find unappealing on their paws, like double-sided sticky tape or aluminum foil. Many cats don't like the odor of citrus or menthol. In cases with non-fabric surfaces, try attaching cotton balls soaked in cologne or a muscle rub to the places you want them to leave alone. You may have to keep these items in place for a few weeks or months, or until your cat is using scratching posts consistently. When the time comes, remove them one at a time. Cats just want to have fun Scratching posts and pads are available in all shapes, sizes and materials. But if you're feeling industrious, you can easily find DIY building plans online or try one a homemade alternative using these tips:

  • A sturdy, rope-covered upright post; a flat scratch pad of corrugated cardboard, the back side of a carpet square or a small log with the bark still on can make excellent scratching pads (just be sure that wood hasn't been treated with chemicals before bringing it inside)
  • A scratching object can be free-standing, lie on the floor or hang from a doorknob. Experiment to find out what your cat prefers or, even better, provide a variety of scratching objects in different places and positions.
  • Rub a little catnip into the post or attach a toy to the top to make it even more attractive.
  • Praise your cat for using the post or any other object that is acceptable for them to scratch.
Location, location, location Put the posts where your cat wants them — like next to their sleeping spot for a quick stretch after a nap or by the front door for a really intense session after they greet you. Place posts in prominent spots on each level of the house so they don't have to go far to indulge. Scolding your cat only works if you catch them scratching an off-limits object. If you try to punish them after the fact, they won't know what they've done wrong and could learn to fear you. Never yell at or hit your cat as punishment: they may start to avoid you altogether. Negative reinforcement isn’t the answer. If you do catch your cat shredding a "naughty spot," interrupt them by making a loud noise (clap your hands, shake a can of pennies or pebbles, slap the wall) and redirect their scratching to one of the acceptable items. Do this consistently to teach them "sofa bad, post good." Clipping claws Cats who are sedentary may not wear down their claws through exercise and their nails can become overgrown. Left untrimmed, claws can grow into your cat's paw pads, leading to infection, pain and difficulty walking or using the litter box. Check your cat's claws every couple of weeks to see if they need to be clipped.

Urine Marking and Spraying

Your cat isn't that far removed from their wild roots. They feel an instinctive urge to stake their claim by leaving their scent. While most territory marking is done through innocent rubbing or scratching, issues with urinating can also arise. The importance of scent Scent is the primary way that cats communicate. For example, when one cat comes home from the vet, the other cats in the household may treat them like a stranger at first, based on their smell. They'll have to get a good sniffing before they're part of the family again. Since cats can't be in two places at once to monitor their territory, they have many scent-based ways to leave their calling card. Marking by rubbing Felines have scent glands on their cheeks, paws and flanks and when they rub against something—a door, a chair, you—they put their own personal scent on that object. This leaves the message for other cats that they've been there and laid claim. Rubbing against you is a way of marking you as theirs telling other cats to back off. In a multi-cat household, all this rubbing helps to establish territories (at least temporarily) and to create bonds between the cats. When two cats in the house meet up, they'll sniff each other and one will start rubbing and maybe even grooming the other. This helps to ease tension between them. Marking by scratching When your cat scratches something, they're doing more than sharpening their claws; they're leaving their scent as well. Cats have scent glands on the pads of their feet and scratching is another way cats mark territory. Don't punish your cat for doing what comes naturally—just train them to use a scratching post and leave the furniture alone. Urine-marking takes two forms:

  1. Spraying urine on vertical surfaces
  2. Urinating on horizontal surfaces
Spraying is when a cat backs up to a vertical surface with their tail erect and squirts urine. Their tail often quivers while they're spraying. Regular urinating is when they squat to pee on the furniture, the floor, things lying on the floor or any other horizontal surface. Both males and females can (and do) spray and squat. Marking with urine is not a litter box issue. Why your cat is urine-marking There are several possible reasons your cat is urine-marking: Introducing new pets to the home If you are considering adopting a new cat or dog or other pet, be sure to give your resident cat plenty of time to adjust. The newly adopted pet should have a safe room to adjust to the home which allows your resident cat time to get to know them through a door or baby gate. Don’t require your resident cat to share a litter box with a new cat. Medical issues Medical problems can be another cause of urine-marking. Particularly with male cats, a urinary tract infection (or much worse, a blockage) may be at fault if your cat suddenly stops using the litter box or spends a lot of time trying to urinate and licking their genitals. Some cats will even urinate and cry right in front of you or try to urinate in the bathtub or sink to let you know something's wrong. Mating behavior The urge to spray is extremely strong in cats who have not been spayed or neutered, so the simplest solution is to get that taken care of by five months of age, before there's even a problem. If you've adopted an unneutered adult cat, get them fixed as soon as possible. Neutering solves most marking issues, even in cats who have been doing it for a while. However, the longer you wait, the greater the risk that marking behavior will be ingrained. Stress Cats are creatures of habit and many react badly to even the slightest changes in their environment. This can include everything from a new pet or baby in the house, to a caretaker’s absence, a strange cat in the backyard and other environmental factors we don’t fully notice or understand. Marking territory with urine is your cat's way of dealing with stress. They feel anxious and are trying to relieve their anxiety by staking out their boundaries. Leaving their urine scent is the most emphatic way to say, "I'm stressed." If you see signs of medical problems, take your cat to the vet immediately. Urinary tract problems are not only painful, they can be fatal. A cat whose urinary tract is blocked can die in hours or suffer irreversible organ damage from the buildup of toxins in their system. Urinary tract problems don’t clear up by themselves and require urgent attention. Ways to solve marking Finding the culprit Isolate one cat at a time to see if the inappropriate behavior stops while they're in isolation. This method isn't foolproof, however, because if the culprit's behavior is stress-induced, it may not occur if isolation has removed them from the source of stress. Another method is adding food-safe fluorescent dye to the cats' food (one cat at a time). The dye will glow in the cat's urine when a black light is held over it. You have your culprit. Now that we know who it is, what to do about it? Resolving your cat's stress is critical and requires time and plenty of patience and understanding from you. We have lots of tips to help you get your cat through their crisis. Here are a few:
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly. Don't use strong-smelling cleaners, because they may cause your pet to "over-mark" the spot.
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive. If this isn't possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat and play with your pet in the areas they're inclined to mark.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach. You should place items such as guests' belongings and new purchases in a closet or cabinet.
  • Restrict your pet's access to doors and windows through which they can observe animals outside.
  • A short course of anti-anxiety medication may help if your cat is feeling anxious during behavior modification. Speak to your veterinarian if your cat is acting anxiously.
  • Use a product like Feliway® to inhibit your cat's spraying.

Excessive Meowing/Yowling

Kittens meow to their mothers when they’re hungry, cold, or scared. But once cats get older, they use other vocalizations -- such as yowling, hissing, and growling -- to communicate with each other. Meowing is reserved for their communications with people. Some cats just seem to like to hear their own voices, while others seem to want to carry on a conversation with their owners. If your cat is talking a little more than you’d like, try to figure out the cause first. Once you know the reason, you can then work to get your cat to meow less. Why Does My Cat Meow So Much? Cats meow for many reasons, from the serious to the attention-seeking. They include: Illness. The first step is a thorough checkup by your veterinarian. Numerous diseases can cause a cat to feel hunger, thirst, or pain, all of which can lead to excessive meowing. Cats of all ages also can develop an overactive thyroid or kidney disease, both of which can result in excessive vocalizations. Attention seeking. Despite what some people think, cats don’t like being alone a lot. Cats often meow to initiate play, petting, or to get you to talk to them. If you want to cut down on attention-seeking meows, stop responding when it happens. Only give them attention when they are quiet. If they start to meow again, look or walk away. But don’t ignore your pet. Spend quality time each day with them, playing, grooming, and talking to them. A tired pet is a quieter pet. Wants food. Some cats meow every time someone walks in the kitchen, hoping to get a bite. And many cats become very vocal when it gets close to their feeding times. If this is your problem, don’t feed your cat when they cry. Wait until they are quiet to put down food, and don’t give them treats when they meow. If this doesn’t work, get an automatic feeder that opens at set times. Now kitty will meow at the feeder and not you. Greeting you. Many cats meow when their people come home, or even when they just meet them in the house. This is a hard habit to break, but look at it as kitty saying they are happy to see you. They are lonely. If you pet spends too many hours a day alone, think about getting a pet sitter to enrich your pet’s life. Put a bird feeder outside a window they can watch. Leave foraging toys out with food inside. Get them a kitty condo and rotate different toys that you leave out for play. A stressed cat. Cats that are experiencing stress often become more vocal. A new pet or baby, a move or changes to the home, an illness or the loss of a loved one can turn your cat into a talker. Try to discover what is stressing your pet and help them adjust to the change. If that’s not possible, give your cat extra attention and quiet time to help soothe them. Aging cats. Cats, just like people, can suffer from a form of mental confusion, or cognitive dysfunction, as they age. They become disoriented and often cry plaintively for no apparent reason, especially at night. A nightlight sometimes can help if your cat becomes disoriented at night, and veterinarians often can prescribe medications that help these symptoms. Cats that want to breed. If your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, then you’re going to hear a lot more noise. Females yowl when in heat, and males yowl when they smell a female in heat. Both can be maddening to live with. Getting your pet spayed or neutered will prevent this. What Not to Do

  • Don't ignore it without making sure there’s no problem. Although you don’t want to reward meowing, sometimes cats meow for good reason - they can’t reach their litter box, they’re trapped in a room, the water bowl is empty. Check on them when they meow to determine if it’s something you can safely ignore, or a problem that must be corrected right away.
  • Don’t punish a cat for meowing. Hitting, shouting, and spraying cats with water rarely work to quiet a meowing cat in the long run, but all those actions will make your cat distrust or even dislike you.
  • Don’t give in. If your cat is used to getting what they want from meowing, they are going to meow more, and louder, when it quits working. In other words, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Just keep rewarding quiet behavior and ignoring meowing, and eventually they’ll get the idea.

Lost and Found

How do you register the microchip in your adopted pet?

Registering your microchip is super easy! We use a brand called Michelson Found Animals for our microchips. They are a completely FREE service and registry and you won't ever have to pay an annual fee. When you adopt a pet from us, you will receive an email from Michelson Found Pets with a link to log in to your account and confirm all the pet's information. And then just make sure all of your information is up to date (phone numbers, addresses, etc.). You can continue to update the microchip's information as many times as needed and it will always be free! **If you did not receive an email or cannot find it, head over to to register the microchip!**

What is Finding Rover?

This is a brand new way to search for missing pets as well as post found pets. Finding Rover is a pet facial recognition service that you can use via computer or mobile app. To use it, register at, upload your pets' pictures and information as well as your contact information and continue keeping it up to date. If you find a pet, snap a picture of it and report it as "found" on Finding Rover. The system will then search for a match that has been reported as "lost". If you are missing a pet, upload a recent photo of the pet and Finding Rover will search its database to see if someone has found them.

What to do if you've found a stray...

If you have found a lost pet in the Auburn/Opelika city limits, you can bring it to LCHS during our regular hours: Monday 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday 8:30- 5:00 p.m We are not capable of picking up strays. If you are reporting an animal at large, you must contact your local animal control: • Lee County Animal Control - (334) 737-7013
• Auburn Animal Control - (334) 501-3090
• Opelika Animal Control - (334) 705-5480 If you have found a lost pet in the Auburn/Opelika city limits after regular operating hours and cannot hold the pet overnight, please call the Auburn Police Non-Emergency Number: (334)-501-3100. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If the animal was found outside of the city limits, you will need to contact the appropriate organization. You can view all animal shelters and rescues in the surrounding areas here! If found in Lee County but not within the city limits, you must contact Lee County Animal Control. They can be reached at 334-737-7013. Mon-Fri 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM Alternatively, animals may be dropped off at the Department of Environmental Services located at 100 Orr Avenue, Opelika 36804 Mon-Fri 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM. They request a call ahead of time so that an animal control officer can be there to greet you. Following this policy will help owners find their lost pets.

What to do if you want to surrender your pet...

**Please consider these alternatives to surrendering your pet to the shelter. With the following tools, you can rehome your pet without it ever having to experience the stress of shelter life, which can be very difficult for an animal used to living in a home.**

  • Place your pet with someone you know
  • ​Use social media to get the word out.
  • Be sure to ask for references before allowing someone to adopt your pet​
  • Visit Rehome. Rehome is a simple and free tool to help you find your pet a forever home. You will upload information about the pet, review applications, and finalize an adoption - all without the pet having to enter the shelter.​​
  • Search for breed-specific rescues​
  • Contact other rescues in our area such as:
    • Animal Ark Rescue (706) 569-6040
    • East Alabama Humane Society (334) 298-6446
    • Rescue K-911 (256) 896-4694
    • PAWS Humane (706) 565-0035
    • Animal Safe Passage​
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Owners who wish to surrender their pet to the Lee County Humane Society should call the shelter first. This will allow us time to prepare for the arrival of your pet. When you come to the shelter you will be required to:
  • Provide veterinarian records.
  • Complete a pet information form- remember the more information we have about your pet the better opportunity we can give them for finding a forever home.
  • ​Provide proof of residence in Auburn or Opelika (power or water bill is acceptable)

Can we come and pick up a stray pet?

Unfortunately, we do not have the means to go out and pick up stray pets. If you notice a pet running at large and are unable to pick them up, please contact you local animal control. Auburn Animal Control: (334-) 501-3090 Opelika Animal Control: (334-) 705-5480 Lee County Animal Control: (334-) 737-7013

What to do if you've found newborn/baby kittens...

During the spring and summer months, it is quite common to find a litter of newborn kittens (or just one kitten) seemingly abandoned by their mother. We understand wanting to help newborn kittens once you see them. They appear helpless and defenseless and instinct takes over. Before jumping to the rescue, please consider these few things: FIRST, Wait and Watch: Back away a considerable distance to watch the kittens. Mom will not come back if you are standing too close to them or are within plain sight. It may take minutes or hours. (It is common for mother cats to hunt for food and leave their kittens in what they perceive to be a safe place.) If you do not have time to sit and wait, you can always sprinkle flour around the kittens. When you return to check on them hours later, if the flour has been disturbed, it is likely the mother came back to check on them. If the mother returns, the best thing to do (as long as the area is safe and secure), is to offer food and fresh water along with shelter. (Make sure the food and shelter are at a distance from each other as the mother cat will not want other animals to find her kittens due to the smell of the food.) Six weeks is the optimal time to wean kittens from the mother. At this time, you should consider trapping both kittens and mother to help get them fixed and ready to be rehomed or TNR'd (Trap, Neuter, Return). If The Mother Cat Does NOT Return: If you discover that for whatever reason, the mother cat has not returned for her babies (an will not return inthe near future), you should remove the kittens from the area as it is crucial to their survival. **If you take them in/intervene, you MUST be prepared for bottle-feeding and around-the-clock care for the kittens.** If you do intervene and are unable to continue care for them, you can call our shelter and we can offer a few options: We can help with supplies for bottle feeding and neo-natal kitten care. (We can help supply milk replacement, pamphlets on how to bottle feed and stimulate, bottles, etc.) We can take them in and find experienced fosters for them. (Please note, that we would prefer you call ahead of time so that we can prepare to take them in.)


Should you declaw you cat?

We highly recommend not declawing your cat. It is commonly misconcieved as a procedure that just takes a cat's "nails" away. "Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat's 'toes'." (Christianne Schellind, DVM) This can be compared to amputating your fingers at the last knuckle. It is an extremely painful procedure with a painful recovery time. (During this painful recovery, your cat will still have to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box no matter how much pain they are feeling.) There can also be many complications that can arise:

  • Pain
  • Damage to nerves
  • Painful regrowth of deformed claw in the paw pad
  • Abscesses
  • Abnormal nerve growth (which can cause the cat to stop using the litter box as the scratching becomes too painful)
We can understand not wanting your cat to scratch up furniture or carpet, but there are other options--options that aren't as painful as declawing:
  • Nail Caps--These are little caps that you or your vet can glue onto a cat's nails. They are dulled so that your cat can't scratch or latch on to anything and can be removed whenever needed. They also come in many different colors! Check them out here: Kitty Caps (Amazon)
  • Trim your cat's nails often. Your vet can help teach you how to trim your cat's nails safely without hurting anyone involved. It's best to trim your cat's nails every other week.
  • Use other scratching deterrents like double sided tape, deterrent spray, sand paper, etc. You can also put a scratching post or cardboard scratcher next to the "illegal" item to teach your cat to scratch on those instead of your furniture.

FIV+ Cats

*It is important to note that we are not licensed veterinarians and can not give medical advice. If your dog/cat is experiencing any symptoms of any disease, it is recommended to get them to a licensed vet as quick as possible to get advice on treatment.* FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. What it does is weakens a cat's immune system, causing them to be more likely to get sick. It is compared to HIV, but cats are the only ones who are able to get FIV. How do they get it? Cats commonly get FIV through deep puncture wounds caused by an infected cat. It can be transferred via blood, in utero, and from the milk of a mother cat who is infected. It is not common for cats to get FIV through touch or shared litter boxes/food bowls. It is possible for FIV positive cats to live perfectly alongside FIV negative cats. What are the signs/symptoms? There are no specific signs of FIV in cats. The only problem FIV positive cats have is a weakened immune system which makes them more prone to sickness and infections.The only way to know for sure if your cat has FIV is through a blood test performed by a veterinarian. Kittens can have a false positive test when they are born from an FIV positive mom and should be retested once they are 6 months old once the mother's antibodies are gone. Treatment There are no know cures or treatments to get rid of FIV in cats. Most FIV positive cats handle the disease quite well and can live long, happy lives. The most important thing to do is treat any secondary infections or illnesses since FIV positive cats are more susceptible.

FeLV+ Cats

*It is important to note that we are not licensed veterinarians and can not give medical advice. If your dog/cat is experiencing any symptoms of any disease, it is recommended to get them to a licensed vet as quick as possible to get advice on treatment.* FeLV stands for Feline Leukemia Virus and only affects cats--it cannot be transmitted to any other species. The virus can be transmitted through blood and saliva with grooming and fighting being the most common ways for the infection to spread. Kittens can also contract the virus in utero or through an infected mother's milk. It can often be spread through healthy cats who don't show any symptoms. Symptoms

  • Pale gums
  • Yellow color in mouth and whites of eyes
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Bladder/skin/respiratory infections
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Progressive weakness
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Reproductive issues
  • Stomatitis
Diagnosis Your vet can diagnose the disease by conducting a simple blood test called an ELISA, which identifies FeLV proteins in the blood. A second blood test, the IFA, detects the progressive phase of the infection, and cats with positive results for this test are unlikely to clear the virus. The IFA test is performed at a laboratory, rather than in your vet’s clinic. In general, cats that are IFA-positive have a poor long-term prognosis. Treatment 85% of cats who are persistently infected with FeLV die within three years of diagnosis. However, regular vet check ups and good preventative health care can help keep these cats feeling well and can keep secondary infections at bay. Though, all FeLV infected cats should be altered (spayed/neutered) and kept indoors at all times. At this time, there is no cure for FeLV infections. You should treat secondary infections as they appear.

Heartworms and How to Prevent It

What is it and how is it spread? Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm that can inhabit the heart, lungs and associated major blood vessels. The worms then cause damage to the hearts, lungs and other organs. If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal. Heartworms are spread by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can bite an already infected animal and then spread it to others. Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Fainting episodes
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • (Towards the end) heart failure, blockage of arteries, caval syndrome (pale gums, labored breathing and dark urine)
**Caval syndrome is usually fatal unless emergency surgery is performed to physically remove the worms.** Treatment It is important to get your dog treated if they test positive for heartworms. If left untreated, the disease can be fatal. There are several steps to treatment and it is important that your dog's activity be restricted to leash walking only and kennel confinement at all other times. The American Heartworm Society has an established protocol for treatment that includes starting heartworm prevention, a course of an antibiotic called doxycycline, and then multiple injections with melarsomine, an agent that will kill the adult heartworms. Six months after treatment, dogs should be retested and it is important that they remain on prevention after treatment. It is also important to mention that heartworm treatment can get more expensive, the bigger the dog. This is why it is important to keep your dog on prevention at all times (it is cheaper to keep them on prevention than it is to get them treated.) Prevention Several types of prevention are available for both dogs and cats, including monthly oral preventive, monthly topical preventive and, for dogs, a long-acting injection given every six months. Prevention works by killing the immature worms, but is only effective against worms of a specific stage in their life cycle. After about 51 days, the worm larvae have matured so much that prevention is no longer effective, and those worms then mature into adults that cause heartworm disease. That’s why it is so important to administer prevention on time every month (or every six months for dogs who are given the long-acting injection). A few types of heartworm prevention are listed below:
  • Trifexis (dogs)
  • Revolution (dogs or cats)
  • Heartgard (dogs)
  • Tri-Heart + (dogs)

Surviving Cage Rest for Heartworm-Treated Dogs

One of the medications your dog receives during heartworm treatment is an adulticide that works to kill the adult heartworms in the bloodstream. This comes in the form of multiple injections. From the first injection to the last injection, it is essential to keep your dog quiet and under cage rest. (This means keeping them in a kennel most of the time and making sure to restrict all activity.) If you don't, it can cause blood clots in major vessels causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Sometimes cage rest can seem extremely difficult, but no worries! Check out a few tips to help you and your dog get through the next few months with ease: 1. Give them companionship. Social interaction is key to your dog’s behavioral health. Replace activity with affection by keeping him close to you while you watch TV or read. Avoid visitors of both the two-legged and four-legged variety. You may also want to keep your dog away from windows if he’s prone to barking when he sees passersby. 2. Make mealtime last. There’s no need for quick meals, so try feeding toys like Kongs or puzzle feeders that require your dog to quietly play for hours in order to extract food or treats. You can put many different things in a Kong like peanut butter, spray cheese, veggies, dog treats, yogurt, etc. And to make it last even longer, you can freeze the kong overnight. 3. Let them chew. Dogs that are bored can be destructive to themselves or their environment. Longlasting, safe chew toys can channel this behavior and help keep your confined dog happy. 4. Train the brain. New tricks and games that keep your dog’s brain busy and body rested are perfect for eliminating boredom. Try a game of stationary catch or use a clicker to train him to follow quiet commands while he’s in his crate. It can be difficult at times, but with a little patience and a whole lot of love, you both can get through it together.

What do we recommend for flea and tick prevention?

While we don't have a specific Flea/Tick preventative that we use, we do recommend keeping your pets up to date with this prevention especially if you have pets that love to go outside and go on hikes with you! Some wonderful brands are:

  • K9 Advantix (dogs)
  • Frontline Plus (cats or dogs)
  • Nexgard (dogs)
  • Capstar (cats or dogs)
  • Bravecto (cats or dogs)
  • Comfortis (cats or dogs)

Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats

*It is important to note that we are not licensed veterinarians and can not give medical advice. If your dog/cat is experiencing any symptoms of any disease, it is recommended to get them to a licensed vet as quick as possible to get advice on treatment.* In a shelter environment, it is quite common for cats to get Upper Respiratory Infections (URI's) since it spreads so quickly and there are usually a multitude of cats in a shelter. We usually explain at the time of adoption that sometimes, you will hear your adopted cat sneeze at the beginning, but once you get them home and out of the shelter environment, the problem usually goes away on its own. URI's are very much like a common cold (it is a viral infection). Your cat will sneeze and will have runny eyes and a runny nose. There is no completely effective treatment for a URI and most of the time, you should ease their symptoms and let their immune systems do their jobs. Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Red and/or runny eyes
  • Sores on tongue, lips, nose or roof of mouth
  • Fever
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Decreased energy
If it seems to not be getting better after a few days in their new home (or if you cat catches a URI when it hasn't been in a shelter environment and symptoms are not going away), you can contact a vet and they can prescribe you medicine to help combat the sneezing, runny nose and fever. We also recommend feeding them wet food (preferably with gravy) because it can be hard for them to smell when they have runny noses and wet food has a stronger smell and will be more inticing to them.

Kennel Cough in Dogs

*It is important to note that we are not licensed veterinarians and can not give medical advice. If your dog/cat is experiencing any symptoms of any disease, it is recommended to get them to a licensed vet as quick as possible to get advice on treatment.* Kennel Cough (canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is exactly what you think it is. It will mainly occur in animal shelters and boarding facilities/doggy day cares where there is a high volume of dogs in a close environment. They can also "catch" it when they are around a lot of dust or cigarette smoke, in cold temperatures and via travel-induced stress. Symptoms

  • Persistent, hacking cough (It sounds a lot like a goose honking and is very distinct from the "reverse-sneeze" that dogs can do.)
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Runny eyes
  • It is unlikely that your dog will have a decreased appetite or decreased energy when they have kennel
Most cases of kennel cough can be resolved on its own, but you can get medicine prescribed by a vet to help speed up recovery and diminish symptoms. If you plan on leaving your dog with a boarder or are thinking about introducing them to doggy day care, it is important that they get a Bordetella (Kennel Cough) vaccine to help diminish the risk of them catching it.

Demodex and Other Skin Issues

*It is important to note that we are not licensed veterinarians and can not give medical advice. If your dog/cat is experiencing any symptoms of any disease, it is recommended to get them to a licensed vet as quick as possible to get advice on treatment.* Demodex, also known as demodectic mange, in dogs is a mite infestation on your dog's skin. The mites are tiny, eight legged, cigar shaped, and feed in the hair follicles and oil glands of the skin. Most cases of demodex are self-limiting, meaning your dog is able to stop the growth and reproduction of the demodex mites and will also repair the damage that was done by the mites. Symptoms

  • Hair loss in patches
  • Rubbing of the face and head
  • Redness or inflammation of the skin
  • Excessively oily skin
  • Crusting on the skin (looks like dry skin)
  • Swelling of the paws
Treatment Once your veterinarian has diagnosed demodex they will begin treatments to get rid of the overgrowth of mites. Anti-mite creams can be used as well as anti-inflammatory creams and corticosteroid creams. Your veterinarian may also recommend using benzoyl peroxide on larger areas. Your veterinarian will probably trim the hair around the affected areas. This will allow the prescribed creams to work more effectively on the affected areas. Some cases of demodex may require the use of anti-parasitic medications. Your veterinarian will prescribe the medications they feel will work best on your dog. Antibiotics may also be used in cases where bacterial infections from the demodex have occurred. Demodex is highly treatable with the right steps and with help from your vet.

Worms in Dogs and Cats

*It is important to note that we are not licensed veterinarians and can not give medical advice. If your dog/cat is experiencing any symptoms of any disease, it is recommended to get them to a licensed vet as quick as possible to get advice on treatment.* Worms and parasites can be found all over outside and it is important to keep up with yearly (bi-yearly for dogs and outdoor cats) veterinary visits so they stay as healthy as possible. Vets can check for worms and can administer the proper deworming medications. The most common types of worms found in your pets are hookworms, whipworms, roundworms and tapeworms. If your pet is experiencing rapid and random weight loss, diarrhea that isn’t remedied via diet modification, anemia, unexplained vomiting, severe bad breath that can’t be cured by regular brushing, or severe coughing, then it is recommended that you take your pet to a veterinarian – it is a very real possibility that your pet is experiencing some sort of parasitic invasion.

**If you’re experiencing difficulties related to your pet, and you cannot find an answer here, or if you need more information, our pet owner outreach team would love to talk with you. They can assist you with most problems, whether they are behavioral, financial or medical. To reach our pet owner outreach team, contact and provide a summary of your situation and questions that you have.  Please keep in mind that we are not licensed veterinarians, all advice given is general, and our volunteer team is unable to verify if we can take in your pet or set up appointments for owner surrender.**