Can your dog be a “therapy” dog?

Is your dog super friendly and absolutely wonderful with people? Do you love people too? If so, you may want to consider training to become a therapy dog handler!

Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and homes for disabled adults are always in need of volunteers who bring in therapy dogs to visit with the patients or residents. Hospitalization or living in nursing/care home can be stressful and many miss the companionship that pets provide. Therapy pets can brighten a patient’s day just by cuddling and accepting some love and attention. More highly-trained therapy dogs can be used in physical therapy and rehabilitation too!

To be a therapy dog, your pet must be well-trained and extremely well-socialized. Pets typically need to undergo a screening and training process. For instance, in the U.S., therapy dogs must obtain a good citizenship certificate; in some areas, they must have a therapy dog certificate.

If you’re interested in becoming a therapy dog handler with your pet, contact your local hospital to inquire about which local organisation oversees the therapy dog program. You can also call local humane organization or a local training centers to determine what certification is required. There are even volunteer organizations that coordinate local therapy dog programs; some hospitals may only work with one particular organization, so it’s good to inquire at the location where you wish to volunteer.

It’s a great way to share your wonderful pet with the world!


The benefits of owning a pet

We all know that dogs can help humans in lots of ways – they lead the blind, they assist the disabled, they work alongside police and military personnel, they bring joy to patients in hospitals and nursing homes and their powerful noses can even be used to sniff out everything ranging from drugs to cancer!

But your pet doesn’t need specialized training in order to help you live a happier, healthier life! Studies show that pet owners enjoy lots of benefits, both mental and physical. Consider some of these interesting factoids!

1. Pet owners have lower blood pressure, even during times of stress. Animal owners have also been found to enjoy lower rates of heart disease, as they have lower cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels.

2. Individuals who have suffered a heart attack have been found to live longer if they own a pet.

3. Spending time with your cat or dog serves to boost the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which result in feelings of contentedness, calmness and relaxation.

4. Pet owners are significantly less likely to experience depression.

5. In a survey of retirees age 65 and older, pet owners visited their doctor’s office about thirty percent less frequently compared to non-pet owners.

It’s not just cat and dog owners who enjoy these perks; even more “ornamental” pets like fish can bring benefits!


Fun Feline Facts

Cats have been kept as companions for thousands of years. They were revered by the ancient Egyptians and today, there are more than 500 million domestic cats worldwide. Consider the following fun facts about your feline friend!

There are more than 33 cat breeds; the smallest is the Singapore Cat, with males weighing around 3 kilograms and females weighing around 2 kilograms.

Cats can make more than 100 different vocalizations; that’s ten times more than the dog.

The skin patterns on the cat’s nose are completely unique and individual – as unique as the human fingerprint.

Even today, cats are employed by grain farms, museums and storehouses across the globe to protect these locations from mice and rats. According to some estimates, a single cat can kill enough mice to save more than 20,000 pounds of grains from getting eaten by the rodents!

The cat’s skeleton has more than 230 bones, whereas humans have just over 200. A cat can jump up a distance that’s more than seven times its height and it can sprint at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour!


Fun Facts About Your Dog

Dogs are our companions, our best friends, our furry children. But your dog is a fascinating creature! Consider the following fun facts about your dog!

There are more than 350 dog breeds in existence.

Dogs can make more than a hundred different facial expressions.

Some dogs literally show their teeth in a smile. It’s a behavior that many experts believe is an attempt to mimic the human smile. The reason? Only domesticated dogs smile and they only ever smile at humans; never to other dogs (when they smile at other dogs, it’s considered showing teeth.) Smiling is typically done as an act of submission.

Dogs cannot sweat through their skin, even hairless Chinese Crested dogs who are rumored to sweat like humans (they don’t.) The one exception? Their paws! Dogs do have a few sweat glands on their paws, but that’s not enough to keep them cool. That’s why dogs pant.

Dogs can get pimples and blackheads, just like humans! The most common locations are on the chin, elbows and stomach.

Your dog can get a sunburn, just like you! Generally, most dogs are protected by their fur, but hairless dogs and dogs with a really short, fine coat are prone to getting sunburned.

The average dog can run at top speeds of approximately 18 miles per hour.


Baby Pets

We see our pets on a daily basis and we often forget just how fascinating they really are! Well, it’s not just adult pets who are fascinating; those little baby pets are quite curious! Consider some of the following interesting facts about baby pets.

Dalmatians are not born with their spots. They’re born with pure white fur; the Dalmatian’s spots come in as the dog matures and enters late adolescence.

Ever wonder why some cats have a shorter-than-average tail? Sometimes, new mothers will confuse the kitten’s tail for the umbilical cord and she’ll accidentally gnaw off the baby’s tail instead.

Baby finches are not born with the ability to vocalize; they don’t start squeaking and vocally begging for food until they’re about three days old. Also, newborn baby finches require frequent feedings – every half hour, in some cases!

Think twice before breeding that pet garter snake. A garter snake can lay more than 80 eggs in one go!

Armadillo babies are all born the same gender. They’re also always born in pairs of four. Armadillo eggs always split into quarters, so each litter of armadillos is comprised of identical quadruplets. Incredibly, the female armadillo can store viable fertilized eggs for two years or longer when they’re exposed to a stressful situation.

Interesting facts about more exotic pets

While cats and dogs are among the most common pets, there are also lots of more exotic animals that are kept as companions, from iguanas to birds to snakes and beyond! Consider some of the following interesting facts about exotic pets!

A bird must consume more than 50 percent its weight in food each day. While at rest, a bird’s heart beat averages at around 400 beats per minute.

Hamsters aren’t the only pet that can store food internally (in its cheeks). Birds have a sack in their neck called a crop; seeds are stored in the crop prior to digestion.

Large birds like macaws and reptiles like tortoises can live as long as a human. Up to 70-80 years or even longer! And incredibly, a well-cared-for goldfish can live up to 40 years!

Rabbits can only breathe through their noses. And curiously, rats cannot vomit.

Many lizards can lose and re-grow their tails. This is a defense mechanism. The tail will break off when the reptile is threatened by a predator. The tail will continue to wiggle and move for a minute or two after it breaks off; this keeps the predator interested, thereby giving the lizard a chance to escape!


Are you having a difficult time coming up with a name for your pet?

Are you having a difficult time coming up with a name for your pet? Consider the following tips for naming your pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or exotic!

First, consider the pet’s personality. It can help to get to know the pet for a few days before coming up with a name. Often, as you get to know the pet, personality traits will become apparent; these personality traits often bring a specific name to mind.

You may also want to consider the pet’s appearance; this can often serve as naming inspiration.

Also, consider nicknames. Many people prefer names with lots of great nickname potential.

If you’re still stuck for a name, there are tons of wonderful pet name websites and books available. Bow Wow has a fantastic pet name site. If you’re deciding between two or three names, try out each name for a day or two. Often, you’ll find that the “right” name becomes apparent!

When naming a dog or cat, select a name that’s two or three syllables long. One-syllable words are traditionally used as commands, so differentiating your pet’s name from those commands can make it easier for the pet to learn both commands and his name.