If you’re thinking about raising chickens in your backyard, you’re not alone — according to National Public Radio, backyard poultry has only grown in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when homebound families brought home chickens to supply meat and eggs, keep kids busy and bring a little happy noise into their backyards.
Before you bring any chickens home, check local ordinances and neighborhood rules to make sure that you’re allowed to have chickens on your property. They may be prohibited entirely, or you may be limited in the number you can have or the type of coop you can build.
Once you know for sure that chickens are allowed, it’s time to do a little homework. Take a class, read a book, or find an online course. Chickens aren’t difficult to keep, but you should take the time to learn about daily care, health issues, behavior, and safety. During your research, you may realize that chickens aren’t for you after all.
Next, figure out where you’re going to keep them. Chicks usually require a heat lamp and a smaller enclosure, so identify a place where they can safely stay until they’re big enough to go outside.
Once outside, chickens require shelter and protection from predators, including family pets. You can purchase or download plans to build a coop yourself, or purchase kits or already-built coops from farm supply stores, hatcheries, and other vendors.
Before you pick out what kinds of chickens you want to bring home, think about your intended use for the birds. Some chickens are prolific egg-layers, while others offer plentiful and tasty meat.
Some birds can be used for both eggs and meat, while others, such as tiny bantam chickens, are mostly just fun to watch. Contact your local hatchery or farm supply store to find out when different breeds will be available, so you can place an order.
Lastly, as the Centers for Disease Control has repeatedly admonished Americans, under no circumstances should you hug or kiss your chickens. Chickens are notorious salmonella carriers, so keep your lips away from your birds, and if you must touch them, wash thoroughly with soap and water after.
How to choose a birdcage
Do you want to adopt a pet bird? Before visiting your local pet store, ensure you know what to look for in a suitable cage. Your bird’s health and well-being depend on it. Here are a few tips for choosing the right cage.
The cage should be large enough for your bird to fly around but not so big that it feels lost. The ideal cage size depends on your bird’s size and whether you plan on housing one or several birds in the same enclosure.
The shape of the cage depends on the type of bird you adopt and its flying preferences. For example, most birds fly horizontally. Therefore, long cages are most suitable. On the other hand, tall cages are more suitable for birds that like to climb, like parrots and parakeets. It’s also good to look for a cage with several perches.
Make sure the spacing between the bars isn’t too big. Your bird shouldn’t be able to stick its head through. If your bird likes to climb, choose a model with smooth bars. Finally, make sure the door has a secure latch.
Visit your local pet store to find a cage your new feathered friend will love.
Things to know before adopting a shelter pet
Maybe your house feels a little lonely after losing a beloved old cat, or perhaps your single dog could use a friend. Bringing a new pet home is exciting, but before you jump on a pet adoption site or head to your local animal shelter, make sure you know what to expect while searching for your new best friend.
- Shelters are not the same as rescues. Shelters can be privately or publicly owned, and the adoption process is usually relatively quick and inexpensive. Rescues are usually private organizations that provide temporary foster homes for needy animals, with a more expensive and involved adoption process.
- Many shelter animals arrive without known history, so don’t be surprised if staff cannot tell you about previous behavioral or medical issues.
- Shelter animals are stressed-out and terrified, which makes it hard for them to be on their best behavior. Try to see past that — if you can’t, you might miss a great pet for you.
- Pet adoption websites often have tons of great pet profiles, but don’t get your heart set on one specific animal. Your dream pet might have a new home by the time you contact the shelter, but there are always more animals who need loving homes.
- Don’t be surprised if there’s no honeymoon period when you bring your new pet home. Moving is stressful for animals, too, and it may take a little time for them to relax enough to bond with you. Let your new pet take the lead.
- Make sure you have the right supplies and have pet-proofed your home before you adopt.
- Be ready for some accidents — it’s normal as pets adjust to their new homes.
Shedding in dogs: what you need to know
Most dogs shed twice a year when the temperature changes in the spring and fall. This process is characterized by increased fur loss from exposure to outside light. Here’s what you need to know.
Variation in intensity
Dogs typically shed the most in the spring when a short, light one replaces their thick winter coat for summer. In the fall, this cycle is reversed. Dogs shed their summer coat to make room for a heavy protective one for winter. However, this can vary from one species to another. For example, shedding is more pronounced in long-haired dogs. The amount your furry friend sheds can also depend on its lifestyle. If your dog lives indoors, it may shed consistently throughout the year since temperature variations are less likely to affect it.
You can control how much your dog sheds by taking good care of its coat. Brush your pet regularly and limit shampooing to once a month. Make sure you use a product specially designed for dogs. In addition, shedding treatments can help remove dead hair more quickly.
Keep an eye out for excessive or abnormal shedding, which is often a disease symptom or a nutrition problem. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian.
Preventive care: How to keep cats and dogs healthy
Preventive care is the key to providing your pet with a happy and healthy life. Here are six things you can do to keep cats and dogs in tip-top shape.
1. Provide regular health exams
It’s important for your pets to have annual checkups with a veterinarian. This will ensure health problems are identified and treated before they get worse.
2. Make sure to spay or neuter them
Sterilizing cats and dogs can curb unwanted behaviors, impede infections and prevent certain types of cancer. It also helps keep pets out of animal shelters.
3. Offer a healthy diet and ample exercise
Adequate nutrition and weight management will help your pet look and feel its best. Talk to your veterinarian about your cat or dog’s diet and exercise plan.
4. Keep their vaccinations up to date
Cats and dogs should be vaccinated to protect them from contagious and deadly diseases like rabies, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and canine hepatitis.
5. Take care of their teeth
Pets aren’t immune to dental problems. They should receive regular teeth cleanings and dental exams to prevent cavities and gum disease. Daily brushing is also a must.
6. Offer adequate parasite control
Fleas, ticks, mites, worms, and mosquitoes can transmit diseases to dogs and cats. Investing in parasite control treatments is imperative for preventing your pet from getting sick.
Schedule an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for a personalized preventive health-care plan tailored to the unique needs of your dog or cat.
5 tips for driving with your pet this summer
Do you have plans to take your cat or dog on a road trip this summer? Here are five tips for a safe and comfortable ride.
1. Wear your pet out
Before you embark on your road trip, take your pet for a walk or engage in a long play session. This can help make your pet feel more rested and hopefully sleep for a portion of the trip.
2. Create a comfortable space
Purchase a pet hammock and harness to keep your pet safe and save your car’s upholstery from fur and claw marks. Alternatively, you can keep your furry friend in an enclosed crate if they’re likely to move around and become a distraction while you’re driving.
3. Pack the essentials
Always travel with your pet’s necessities, including food, water, treats, and bags for pet waste. You should also bring a few toys to keep your pet busy and prevent them from chewing on your car’s seat belts or headrests.
4. Take frequent breaks
Like you, your pet needs to take breaks after being cooped up in the car for hours. Consequently, it’s a good idea to stop every two hours to play with your pet and allow it to relieve itself.
5. Never leave your pet alone in the car
A parked vehicle can quickly turn into a hot oven during the summer, even with the windows open. On top of risking heatstroke, leaving your pet alone in your vehicle also makes it vulnerable to theft.
Lastly, ask your veterinarian about remedies you can give your pet to prevent nausea and motion sickness while you’re on the road.
What you need to know about head pressing in pets
If your cat or dog suddenly starts to press its head compulsively against a wall, it’s not because it wants to play hide-and-seek with you. This behavior is known as head pressing and indicates a serious health problem that shouldn’t be ignored.
When pets press their heads against a wall, they’re often trying to soothe a severe headache or are very confused. In fact, this behavior may indicate that your pet is suffering from a brain tumor, encephalitis, or a stroke.
Your pet may also behave this way if it has a liver problem or sodium imbalance. Alternatively, your pet may have taken a blow to the head or been exposed to a toxic substance.
One thing is certain. Head pressing requires prompt intervention. If in doubt, consult your local veterinarian.