The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too

Friday, February 12, 2016

Why You Should Never Wake Your Dog from a Dream

Those mournful wails and yips let loose by our sleeping dogs tug on our heartstrings so hard that it can be impossible to resist waking our dreaming pets. The same goes for when their four legs get to moving and we wonder if they are happily bounding after squirrels or if something big and scary might be chasing them. Even the heavy-duty doggie snoring sometimes sounds like it can’t be a good thing. But should we wake our dogs up from a dream?

The hardline answer is: Probably not. Dogs dream and sleep much like humans, with similar REM patterns. Although most dogs sleep 14 to 16 hours a day, they still need some of the deep, uninterrupted sleep we do. So, if you have a dog that seems to dream a lot, constantly waking your pup may be unhealthy for him.

But…what if you just can’t help yourself?

No Touching

The aforementioned mournful wailing and heartstrings being tugged upon pretty much guarantee that we’re going to awaken our pet anyway. You may want to hug his crying away. Which is exactly what not to do, at least not until your dog is fully awake.

No matter how loyal, well-trained and loving your pet is, awakening them by contact can get you snarled at or even bit. Remember that you are bringing your dog back from a dream state, where the dream is reality.

Use a Gentle Voice

Our natural instinct can be to wake our pet as quickly as possible, even sometimes by shouting their name, as we too are distressed for them. Taking that tone, however, can put your dog on the offensive. He will think something is wrong upon waking and go into protection mode.

Imagine an alarm clock that goes off sounding like the panicked voice of the person you love the most. That would be more than a little stressful to wake to. For these reasons, use a soft and loving tone to coax your dog out of a dream and into a safe environment.

Lay On the Love

Once your dog has successfully been retrieved from the Land of Nod is when you can finally soothe them by touch. Give comforting hugs, rub their head and give that favorite spot a quality petting. Talk to your dog and let them know everything is safe – basically everything comforting you would want after being abruptly woken up.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League Merger Event: Visit Our Flickr Page!

Get a behind-the-scenes look at yesterday's Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League  merger on our Flickr page.

To view the pictures, click here:


Tiny Monkeys No Bigger Than a Thumb Are Being Sold Illegally in China and Used as Accessories by the Country’s Nouveau Riche

Tiny monkeys no bigger than a thumb are being sold illegally in China and used as accessories by the country's nouveau riche.

These little primates are thought to be pygmy marmosets, the world's smallest monkey, they are being priced at up to 30,000 Yuan (£3,140), reports the People's Daily Online.

Pygmy marmosets are native to rainforests of Western Amazon Basin in South America, but they are becoming increasingly popular as exotic pets in China especially as gifts to celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

According to the report, the tiny animals have been given the nickname of 'thumb monkeys' in China and they have become the new star pet among wealthy people in the country.

One such man surnamed Chen is the owner of a jewelry business.

He showcased what he referred to as a 'New Year mascot' on China's Twitter-like social media platform Weibo.

His post said: “Snow skin leopards and red-crowned cranes have nothing on my New Year's gift. Please meet Xiao Shen.”

A wave of comments among his friends on WeChat came after the post.

The monkeys are smaller than mice and cling on to a person's thumb as if to be hugging it.

An official expert who was not named spoke to local reporters: “Buying and selling are certainly not legal. Not only one governmental bodies are supervising this.”

The official also said the monkey is not native to China, so it not only involves the protection of wildlife, but also quarantine.

They have to be able to adapt to the environment, as pygmy marmosets are native to the Amazon, survival in China could be extremely difficult.

What You Need to Know About Pygmy Marmosets:

  • Pygmy marmosets are the smallest monkey's in the world.

  • They average about five inches, with a tail that grows to about eight inches.

  • Native exclusively to rainforests of Western Amazon Basin in South America.

  • They like to eat grasshoppers and make high pitched clicks, squeaks and whistles.

The pygmy marmoset is becoming increasingly popular as an exotic pet, but they are very hard to keep.

International Union for Conservation of Nature's have listed them on their red list of endangered species.

They are undergoing some localized declines, due mainly to habitat loss in the rainforests and international trade.

Source: International Union for Conservation

The tiny monkeys are becoming increasingly popular as exotic pets for their cuteness and size but they are very hard to keep.

According to, when a baby pygmy marmoset is taken away from the family it can often die quickly due to depression.

What a spokesman from the World Animal Protection said about keeping these animals as pets:

“It is obvious to see why these incredibly endearing animals have appeal but people must remember they are wild animals and they must live out their lives in their natural environment – not as a curio for someone as a pet.

They have specific needs that cannot be met in a domestic environment and keeping them as pets is not only cruel but highly irresponsible.”

Pigmy marmosets are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list of endangered species.

They are listed as 'Least Concern' as the species has a relatively wide distribution range, and there are no major threats resulting in a significant population decline.

However, the report said they may be undergoing some localiSed declines, due mainly to habitat loss in the rainforests and international trade.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February is National Pet Dental Health Month: Tips on How to Improve Your Pet’s Dental Health

February is officially designated as dental health month for our pets.  We all take our pets’ to the vet to check their overall condition, but when is the last time you checked your dog or cat’s teeth?  Proper dental care can help avoid other health risks for our beloved cats and dogs.   And, as always, preventive care is the best care of all.

Below are six ways to check and improve your pet’s dental health.

Take a whiff of your dog or cat's breath

As appealing as that sounds, just get a quick sniff of your dog or cat’s breath (preferably not right after eating something stinky!).  Your pet’s breath shouldn’t be offensive or have an abnormally strong odor (doesn’t have to smell like roses either).  If it does reek, your dog or cat could have a digestive problem or a gum condition such as gingivitis and should be taken to your vet for a thorough exam.

Look out for tooth decay (discoloring) in your dog or cat

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a buildup your dog or cat’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss.  If your dog or cat’s teeth are discolored, it’s time to start a brushing program with a toothpaste to ward off decay.

Examine your dog or cat's gums (carefully)

If you want to look at your dog or cat’s gums, make sure he or she is facing you and then gently push back his or her lips and take a look. Your pets’ gums should be firm and pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling.  Their teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar, and none should be loose or broken obviously (they should look just like human gums)!

Peruse your dog or cat's mouth for anything unusual

If you see any of the following, there could be a bigger dental issue in your cat or dog’s mouth and you should take your pet to the vet: dark red line along the gums, loose teeth, pus or extreme salivation, difficulty chewing food, excessive drooling and/or excessive pawing at the mouth area

Learn how to brush your cat's or dog's teeth (if you don't do it already).

While most pets don’t love it, it’s important to brush your dog or cat’s teeth.  You’ll need a small toothbrush and a type of toothpaste formulated for dogs or cats.  You can also use salt and water. It really isn’t that different from brushing your own teeth and can be done quickly once you get the hang of it.

Buy chew toys for your dog or cat to strengthen their teeth.

Chew toys are great for your cats and especially dogs for so many reasons.  It keeps your pets’ occupied and can also make their teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help floss your pet’s teeth, massage their gums and scrape away soft tartar.

Make sure to take the time to check your dog or cat’s mouth regularly for any issues that might occur and try to implement brushing their teeth in your routine.  If you see anything out of the ordinary, make sure to schedule and appoint with your veterinarian as soon as possible. 


Want a Pet? Living on a Budget? Tips on How You Can Do it…Without Burning a Hole in Your Pockets

There are few things cuter than a puppy or kitten, but for those seeking a new pet without giving an arm and a leg might want to consider adopting from a shelter.

Read on for some tips on how to welcome a four-legged friend into your home without burning a hole in your pockets.

Q: How can I save on food, toys and supplies?

Buying pet food in bulk is a good way to save over time, but you'll want to make sure you're buying quality.

"Food isn't an area you want to skimp on," Scott Giacoppo of the Washington Humane Society said. "I wouldn't recommend buying the cheapest food the same way I wouldn't recommend someone to serve Oreos at their Sunday dinner."

Giacoppo said your vet or employees at pet supply stores like Pro Feed, Petco or PetSmart should be able to recommend food and other supplies for your pet.

Also, remember that you don't need to buy everything for your pet all at once. You might be able to start out with just bowls, food, a collar and a few toys, and then learn more about your pet to determine what else he or she needs. Of course, a dog will need a leash, and a cat will need a litter box, but you don't need to spring for top-of-the-line models.

Sign up for deals websites such as Groupon, which often have deals on pet supplies and services -- just make sure you actually need the item; otherwise, you won't be saving money at all.

Also, search pet retailer websites for coupons or special discounts. For instance, offers 20 percent off for signing up to receive emails, and free shipping for orders of $49 or more.

Learn how to perform basic pet grooming skills yourself, such as nail clipping, to save on grooming fees. If you're able to, bathe your dog yourself in your bathtub or outside in the yard. If you can't, consider visiting a DIY dog-washing business, where you can use their shampoos and professional-grade tubs for about $20 -- still cheaper than paying for professional grooming.

Q: What are some preventative tactics I can take to avoid mishaps and large vet bills?

One way to cut costs before you ever see the vet is to adopt from a shelter, because "when you adopt, the animals are sterilized, they're up to date on vaccinations and they've been house trained," Giacoppo said.

If you buy a puppy or kitten from a breeder, you'll pay for these costs out of pocket. Sure, they're cute, but they can end up much pricier in the long run than adopting an older dog -- and by adopting from a shelter, you'll actually be saving two lives, not one (here's why).

The Washington Humane Society also provides one year of pet health insurance and low-cost spaying and neutering if your new buddy hasn't been altered already ($130 for dogs, $80 for cats).

Make sure to "pet-proof" your home so that any hazards or harmless substances are kept out of your new pet's reach. And remember that what's safe for humans might not be safe for dogs or cats. (See the Pet Poison Hotline's list here.) 

Q: Which breeds of dogs/cats tend to be cheaper to care for?

Generally, smaller ones. The cost of care for cats and dogs doesn't vary much based on breed (unless you have a breed that requires extensive professional grooming), but smaller animals simply tend to consume less food than larger animals. Same goes for items like toys, treats and beds -- larger ones usually cost more.

However, the best way to reduce costs is to take care of your pet well, both physically and psychologically. Giacoppo says Parvo, for example, is a life-threatening disease that can cost thousands of dollars to treat, but can be avoided for a small price.

"Take a Saturday once a year, wait in line for an hour and pay $10 for a shot that can save your pet's life," he said. The Washington Humane Society offers low-cost vaccinations Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Also, be sure that your pet has a social life and gets plenty of exercise. Leaving pets tied up or left alone leads to psychological problems and boredom, which can cause behavioral problems, damage to your home or property, and ultimately physical problems that need treatment.

Q: Where can I find affordable pet insurance (and is it worth it)?

Pet insurance can be tricky because there are a few different kinds, and it's not necessarily about what injuries or illnesses your pet could endure, as dog owner Sarah Kliff noted in a recent Vox article. Kliff pays $40 to $50 a month for pet insurance and says the real question is actualll "How much are you willing to pay to spend to save your pet’s life?"

For her, it would be a lot. "If I got a very large bill, I would likely pay it," Kliff wrote. "I would pay bills big enough to make it difficult for me to put a down payment on a house."

To sum it up, you might pay a premium for pet insurance that you never use to make a claim. But a few $400 trips to the vet or an unfortunate $3,000 surgery to remove your pet's favorite toy from its stomach could eventually surpass the price you paid for the insurance. Kliff also points out that many people pay renters' insurance and never file a claim, but the peace of mind can be worth it.

The website PolicyGenius advises people on which types of insurance they should buy, advising some pet owners not to invest in insurance at all.

Kliff writes that Jennifer Fitzgerald, the co-founder of the site, said the right consumer for pet insurance has "low ability to pay (to save their pet's life) but high willingness," so it's not for everyone.

Alternative options include pet wellness plans. For instance, PetSmart's Banfield Pet Hospital chain offers a wellness plan with a focus on prevention and early diagnosis, with potentially lower costs than traditional pet care services. Plans include a set number of wellness visits per year, may cover the cost of shots and offer discounts on other forms of care.

Q: If I need to travel, should I take my pet, hire a sitter or board at a kennel?

It depends. The cost of a travel crate can range from $30 to $100, and overnight care can be costly, too. Your best bet: Find friends or family member willing to do watch your pets. Or, get to know a pet-owning neighbor and offer to trade pet care: You'll watch their dog or cat for a weekend if they'll do the same for you another weekend.

If you're thinking of boarding your pet, check business reviews on a site such as Yelp. If you find several well-reviewed spots, call around to get the best rate. And don't be afraid to ask about any special deals: Will they give you a discount if you pick up your pet before a certain time, for example?

If you hire someone to watch your pet at home, beware of an apparent "bargain." Giacoppo said it's best to use a referral.

"You don't wanna hire someone who says they will just come over for five dollars," he said. "You have no idea how they will treat your pet."


The Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League Merger: Message from Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the First End-To-End Animal Care Organization in a Major U.S. City

From: Lisa LaFontaine

Washington is a city where history is made, and today it was made for the animals. Two iconic Washington-based animal welfare and protection organizations - the Washington Animal Rescue League and the Washington Humane Society - have announced a merger. 

The fact that I have the opportunity to serve as President and CEO of this united, strong organization is one of the great privileges of my career. I am grateful to a number of amazing colleagues who have collaborated over the years to make this possible. I cannot wait to work with our amazing team, our volunteers and boards, as well as my colleagues in other organizations, to move forward toward a day when all animals, in DC and beyond, are celebrated and treated with love and kindness.

Please Share!


Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League: We’re still Glowing from Today’s Historic Announcement, Marking Our Merger

We’re still glowing from today’s historic announcement, marking the merger of Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League.

At the end of today’s press conference, a ceremonial transfer featuring Daisy, a four-month-old pit mix puppy with a broken leg, arriving with WHS Humane Law Enforcement Officers to be admitted to WARL’s Medical Center. Daisy is a sweetheart and will feel better soon!

Please Share!


Great News! The Washington Humane Society and the Washington Animal Rescue League: Merging Together to Create the First End-To-End Animal Care Organization in a Major U.S. City

A major change for the animals in the metropolitan area!

The Washington Humane Society and the Washington Animal Rescue League today announced a definitive agreement to merge the two organizations to create the first end-to-end animal care organization in a major U.S. city. Founded in 1870 and 1914, respectively, WHS and WARL will bring together a comprehensive set of animal care and protection programs that touch the lives of more than 60,000 animals each year, including: Rescue and Adoption, Humane Law Enforcement, Low Cost Veterinary Services, Animal Control, Behavior and Learning, Spay/Neuter, Pets for Life and many other programs.

To read the official document, click here: WashingtonHumane Society and the Washington Animal Rescue Merger

Washington Humane Society

The WHS Mission

The Washington Humane Society inspires and creates a community where all animals have secure homes and where people and animals live together with joy and compassion.

About WHS

The Washington Humane Society (WHS), the only Congressionally-chartered animal welfare agency in the United States, has been the area’s leading voice for animals since 1870. As the open-access shelter in the Nation’s Capital, the Washington Humane Society provides comfort and care to over 51,000 animals annually through its broad range of programs and services including sheltering for homeless animals, a comprehensive adoption program and off-site adoption events to find new families for the animals in our care, low-cost spay and neuter for pet owners and other local organizations, an aggressive TNR (trap-neuter-return) program for feral cats (CatNiPP), investigations of each allegation of animal cruelty or neglect through the Humane Law Enforcement, lost and found services to help reunite lost pets with their families, pet behavioral advice to help resolve issues that lead to animals being relinquished to shelters, working with breed rescue groups to find more homes for more animals, volunteer and foster programs to allow other members of the community to help us help more animals and an award winning Humane Education program that teaches kindness to animals to the next generation of animal lovers.

Washington Animal Rescue League

For more than 100 years, the Washington Animal RescueLeague has rescued, cared for and adopted homeless companion animals in our nation’s capital.  The Washington Animal Rescue League is the oldest  animal shelter in the District of Columbia.  Its mission continues to evolve as conditions change and animals face new and different challenges, but the core of that mission remains unchanged:  to honor and strengthen the human-animal bond by providing the best quality care for homeless dogs and cats, and supporting companion animals in their homes through affordable veterinary care, community outreach, and education.

The Washington Animal Rescue League is known not only for its long history of compassionate care for animals, but for its innovative shelter, which is designed to promote the physical, emotional, and social healing of animals recovering from past traumas, and for the progressive programs that benefit animals and the community.

Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the Washington Humane Society, will become President and CEO of the combined organization.

Please Share!