Reduce Returns: Pick the Right Dog for Your Personality

Many animals adopted are returned to shelters by their adopted parents. Often potential pet parents aren’t prepared for the commitment that comes with adopting an animal. It’s important to consider a number of factors before adopting, including picking a pet personality that matches yours. With careful consideration, you can make a match that will last a lifetime.

Reduce Returns: Pick the Right Dog for Your Personality

by Sloan McKinney

Many people may not know that up to 20% of animals adopted are returned to shelters by their adopted parents, many within the first few weeks or months of ownership. There are a variety of reasons for relinquishing a pet that have nothing to do with the animals themselves.  Often potential pet parents aren’t prepared for the commitment that comes with adopting an animal, and surveys have shown that often the reason give for a was “unwanted/incompatible” (12%). To reduce the number of returns, it is important for potential pet parents to carefully consider the type of pet personality and activity level that will best match theirs.

Activity Levels

Dogs, like children, require attention and engagement. It is important to consider the type of activity level you are looking for in your new companion before adopting. When looking for a specific breed, know that some are more active than others.

Big dogSize Matters

While it would seem that smaller dogs wouldn’t need as much exercise as a larger ones, that isn’t necessarily true. Dogs sleep many hours during the day, but studies have shown that some larger canines are actually among the laziest. Sometimes referred to as “mat dogs” for their seemingly endless naptimes, breeds like the Mastiff, Newfoundland, Pyrenees and Saint Bernard, can sleep more than the average 12 to 14 hours per day.

On the other end of the size spectrum, smaller dogs, like the many types of terriers, have often been called “little terrors,” when not exercised enough. Other smaller breeds that are considered high-energy dogs are the Australian Shepherd, Beagle, and Poodle.

Age Considerations

When looking at younger dogs versus older dogs, it’s important for potential adopters to consider their age, as well, when making their selection. Puppies require a lot more attention and training than senior dogs. They are very active, require work with potty training, and need a lot of play and training. Many senior dogs have already been housebroken and have outgrown their need for constant attention and activity. Many senior dogs are healthy and will make great companions for years to come, but sometimes matching a senior human with a senior dog may require more consideration. Some senior dogs could develop health issues that an older person may not be able to handle.

Some dogs are more comfortable as lap dogs and would pair nicely with a senior citizen. Canines that are content to relax on a lap include:

●      Bichon Frise

●      Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

●      Chihuahua

●      Maltese

●      Pomeranian

●      Shih Tzu

●      Yorkshire Terrier

Grooming RequirementsPoodle

While some people enjoy the pomp and circumstance involved with having a poodle that needs a great deal of grooming, others don’t want a dog that needs that much attention. All dogs need some regular grooming, but a long-haired dog, like a Lhasa Apso, will require far more grooming than one with a short coat, like a Dachshund.

Life Span

The vast majority of the time, large breed dogs age much faster than small breeds. Compare the average life expectancy of an Irish Wolfhound at around six years to that of a Chihuahua that could live eighteen years or more. While some may not want the grief associated with losing a dog before it’s tenth birthday, others may not want to commit to caring for a pet for two decades or more.

Making the decision to adopt an animal means making a commitment to care for a living creature throughout its lifetime.  That is a commitment that should not be taken lightly. To reduce the potential need to return an adopted dog because of incompatibility, carefully consider your own lifestyle, age, and exactly what you want from your new animal. There is a perfect match for everyone, and the rewards of saving a life are endless.

Healthier Choices for Treating & Feeding Pets

Like the parents of two-legged children, pet parents are often concerned about feeding their furry friends a healthy diet.Puppy carrot v2 If you’ve ever struggled to find nutritious snacks to feed your pet, rest assured there are many healthy, pet-friendly foods from which to choose. Some of them just might surprise you.

Healthier Choices for Treating & Feeding Pets
by Sloan McKinney

For parents with two-legged children, sometimes it can be difficult to ensure they consume enough healthy foods in their diets, especially fruits and vegetables. The same is true for parents of our four-legged friends. Many families struggle to find healthy treat and food options for their pets.  With weight gain and obesity a growing problem for today’s pet population, feeding and rewarding them with healthier, less fattening food and treat options is a good choice. What might be surprising is just how many healthy choices your pets may enjoy.

Treat Them with Veggies

When it comes to treat time, change things up with a few veggies. For example, some dogs think carrots are actually a flavorful chew toy and will gnaw on them until there’s nothing left. Giving your cat some steamed broccoli florets to chew is an option to distract them from chewing on your leafy houseplants.

Experiment With Different Choices

While your dog or cat might not like carrots, perhaps they’ll love cantaloupe. Both options have healthy rewards to offer them, but you’ll never know what they might enjoy until you try. Other “superfoods” and healthier feeding options for our pets include berries, apples (without the seeds), bananas, spinach, watermelon (again-seedless), sweet potatoes, and popcorn (with no added butter or salt). If your dog or cat doesn’t enjoy eating a certain type of fruit or vegetable when first handed to them, you can still introduce these healthier choices into their diet in other creative ways. You can add a bit of mashed, steamed vegetables or finely chopped fruits into their regular food supply and they’re likely to not to even notice the difference.

Foods To Avoid

Similar to chocolate and other toxins when it comes to our pets, some options that may appear to be healthy may be dangerous for our animals:

  • Grapes and raisins contain toxics that are dangerous for dogs
  • Onions and garlic should both be avoided for dogs and cats
  • Avocado
  • Acidic tomatoes don’t agree with canines or kitties
  • Mushrooms, particularly wild ones, aren’t good for animals to ingest
  • Nuts, especially macadamia nuts, are also toxic for pets

Avoid giving animals fruits with that contain pits, such as peaches, cherries, and plums. Not only are this bad for them in general, they also pose an obvious choking hazard.

Cat in GrassBegin With Moderation

Don’t give your precious pet too much of any one good thing right out of the gate. Start out with small doses at first, such as just one berry or a small leaf of spinach or lettuce. If your animal accepts it, wait a few days and look for possible reactions, including itchy skin or gastric distresses like diarrhea, constipation or flatulence.

You should always consult your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, but most will agree that healthier options are better. Just like their human companions, our pets will enjoy longer and happier lives with better, healthier trets and meals.

*Cats generally do not like fruit, as they lack the receptors for sweetness.

PetValu Delivers for DAWS…Again!

PetValu of Danbury continues to support DAWS as we work to find loving homes for animals in need.  On August 12, PetValu Kitty Litter Loading v2PetValu made a third donation of kitty litter to support the care of the cats in our shelter.  They also presented DAWS with a check for money raised during their recent Pet Appreciation Month fundraiser.

PetValu Delivers for DAWS…again!

On Friday, August 12, PetValu in Danbury made its third of four annual contributions of kitty litter to DAWS.  Every three months, PetValu stores hold litter drives to benefit local shelters.  In 2016, PetValu has already donated 400 bags or 13,200 pounds of litter to DAWS!  Store Manager, John Madaus said, “We’re doing great, and we still have one more drive to go this Fall!”

DAWS Operations Director, Judy Slason said, “In-kind donations greatly reduce our overall operating budget and help us free up money to adopt more lovable animals.  We are so grateful for our partnership with PetValu.”

When Judy arrived at PetValu to pick up the kitty litter, she also learned that DAWS was receiving a check for $2,840.16 from both the Danbury and Ridegefield stores as well!

PetValu Check Photo v2John Madaus said, “The money was donated as part of a fundraising effort that PetValu does every April. It’s called Pet Appreciation Month. The company allows stores to partner with a local shelter or rescue group. During the month, we ask customers for donations, sell bandanas, and have a dog wash fundraising weekend. One hundred percent of the proceeds from Pet Appreciation Month goes to the local shelter chosen, which in our case was DAWS!”

“We knew DAWS would be the recipient of the annual Pet Appreciation Month donation from PetValu,” said Judy. “We were surprised and thrilled to learn that BOTH the Ridgefield and the Danbury stores combined their fundraising efforts to support DAWS.  We thank the stores, and their wonderful customers for helping to save so many animals through their kindness and generosity.”

Safety Tips When Driving with Your Pets

While many pets enjoy going for a ride in the car, others would much rather avoid one. Regardless of the reason for
having our four legged friends along for a ride, it is important to follow a few safety tips to ensure our furry passengers are safe during the journey.

By: Sloan McKinney

When we think of driving with our four-legged friends, we often envision a dog with his head sticking out a car window as it travels down the road. While this image may conjure up happy thoughts in many of us, leaving your pet free to “roam” about the car while it is in motion is not safe. Whether you take your pets for trips in the car for fun or out of necessity, following a few simple safety tips can help ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely.

Front or Back?

Just like our two-legged children, the front seat is actually the worst place for them to ride. In the front seat, your pet is at risk from being injured from the possible deployment of an airbag. Additionally, they are more likely to be a distraction for the driver. When traveling in the car, the best place for your furry friend is in the back. Here are more safety tips to follow when transporting your best friend:

The Great Crate Debate

Some people and animal rights organizations don’t agree with the concept of putting an animal into a crate, but it is still the safest way for them to travel. Crate training your dog or cat is actually a relatively simple process, and many animals actually enjoy their own space. There are so many reasons they’re much safer in these homes with handles when they are in a car. Here are just a few:

  • Flying objects inside a vehicle can cause serious injuries in the event of a crash
  • If a collision does occur and you’re unresponsive, emergency personnel can quickly remove and contain your animal
  • Another danger resulting from a car accident is your animal escaping through a broken window where they could be struck by a passing motorist

If you’re completely against the concept of putting your critter into a crate, at the very least they should be harnessed and buckled in, just like other passengers. As a matter of fact, more states are beginning to institute laws and fines when it comes to pet transportation and distracted driving statutes when they’re travelling inside our vehicles.

Car Kit

Just like you may put together a kit for yourself to have on hand in the car, having some pet essentials on hand is always a good idea when traveling with your furry friends. Along with plenty of fresh drinking water, be sure to bring along a first aid kit, some toys, treats, and bowls for food and water. You shouldn’t feed your pet while the car is in motion, however, as this could cause them to become ill or develop motion sickness.

ID and Paperwork

Even if your pet is microchipped, be sure they have a proper identification tag with all of your contact information. When travelling across state lines, you should have your animal’s vaccination records on hand, especially showing their current rabies shot. Although this usually isn’t an issue in most cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Dogs in CarGraduate To Longer Journeys

Even if your animal is accustomed to driving to the nearby veterinarian’s office, before taking a long-distance journey, get him acclimated to driving greater distances. Gradually increase the time he spends in your vehicle before taking him on a cross-country adventure.

In closing, we all know better than to leave an animal alone in a parked car, not even for a few minutes, regardless of the outside temperature. Along with the risks associated with a vehicle that is too hot or cold, your precious pooch or friendly feline could also be stolen. Do whatever is necessary to keep your beloved pets safe whenever you’re travelling with them in tow.

A Spotlight on DAWS Volunteers

The July 8th edition of the Newtown Bee featured an article focused on Newtown residents who are also loyal DAWS volunteers.  This fantastic article provides great insight into the vital role that volunteers play at DAWS and highlights the dedication volunteers exhibit day in and day out.

The Newtown Bee highlighted the great work of volunteers at DAWS!  In a three-part series focusing on local animal organizations, contributor Alissa Silber shows readers of the Newtown Bee how their neighbors are choosing to make a differnece in the lives of animals in need.  The first article, published on July 8th, featured an article about Newtown residents who are also loyal DAWS volunteers.  This fantastic article provides great insight into the vital role that volunteers play at DAWS and highlights the dedication volunteers exhibit daily to making a difference in the lives of animals.  Check out the article!

Revised Legislation Protects Animals

On June 22nd, President Obama signed a revision to the Toxic Substances Control Act which includes a decree to minimize animal testing and create a clear preference for the development and use of alternative methods and strategies.  This is a great step forward in reducing animal testing and protecting animals of all kinds from inhumane treatment.

President Obama Signs a Measure That Will Reduce Animal Testing

On June 22, President Obama signed a revision to the Toxic Substances Control Act, a 40-year-old law that provides the EPA with authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures.  The Act had not been updated in 20 years, but now this revision includes an explicit decree from Congress to minimize chemical testing on animals and requires the EPA to create and promote a database of alternative methods and strategies for testing.

The EPA will have two years to create and implement a specific plan to develop alternative testing methods that may include in vitro methods to test isolated human cells against chemicals, the use of computer modeling to understand a chemical’s effects on cells, and creating a database to better identify the chemicals we know are safe.

The portion of the bill relating to animal testing was championed by Cory Booker (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA).  President Obama’s signing of the bill is a step in the right direction to transition away from outdated animal testing, thus sparing countless animals from suffering.

Read more about this important change in legislation.

Recognizing the Signs of Heatstroke in Pets

Spending time outdoors with our furry friends is a fantastic summertime activity. As thetemperature outside increases, so too does the risk of heatstroke.  Heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature elevates dramatically, creating a medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated promptly and properly.  Recognizing the signs of heatstroke in our pets is important to averting potentially deadly consequences.

Recognize the Signs of Heatstroke in Your Pets

Extreme temperatures put pets at risk for heatstroke. While any animal can suffer from heatstroke, those at particular risk include the very old, very young, those who are overweight, have heart or respiratory disease, or those who are not conditioned to prolonged exercise.  Dog and cat breeds with short muzzles, including boxers, pugs, shih tzus and Persians, are also more susceptible to heatstroke.   Heatstroke is a dangerous condition that can lead to organ damage or failure, and even death.  Recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke and treating it rapidly is key to preventing dire consequences.

Signs of heatstroke in cats include:

  • Restlessness as your cat searches for a cooler spot
  • Excessive grooming
  • Panting
  • Sweaty paws
  • Drooling
  • Redness of the tongue and mouth
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting

Signs of heatstroke in dogs include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Profuse drooling
  • Deep red or purple tongue
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Glazed eyes
  • Lethargy/Weakness/Unconsciousness
  • Lack of coordination/Dizziness
  • Seizure
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Diarrhea

What to Do?

Move your pet immediately to a cool area and start to cool him down to decrease his temperature.  Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, under the forelimbs, and in the groin area, or run cool (not cold) water over him.  Ice packs can also be applied.  Let him drink cool water or lick ice cubes.  Most importantly, take him directly to the veterinarian for care.



Summer Pet Safety Tips

cat in grass v2Summertime means fun and sun and an abundance of outdoor activities for most of us. But as much fun as summer can be, it is important to keep the safety of your pets top of mind so they stay healthy and happy all summer long.  Follow these simple safety tips to ensure a carefree season for the entire family.

Summer Pet Safety Tips

Adapted from The Humane Society of the United States and

The summer months can mean fun and sun for everyone in the family, including our pets, but they also can be uncomfortable and even dangerous due to the heat and humidity.  During the hot summer months, it is important to pay attention to a few key safety tips to ensure your pets remain safe, happy, and healthy throughout the season.

Never, ever leave pets in cars

Not even for a minute, not even with the car running and the air conditioning turned on. In the sun and warmth, your car acts like an oven and can heat up to excessive temperatures in just minutes, exceeding the temperature of the air outside. Many people think this only applies on hot summer days, but that’s not the case.  On a sunny, 72-degree day, the temperature inside a car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.  On an 80-degree day, a car can heat up to 99 degrees in just 10 minutes!  Rolling down the windows has no effect on the temperature inside a car. Exposing your pets to these extremes temperatures can lead to heat stroke and potentially irreversible organ damage or death.

Be mindful of humidity

It’s not just the ambient temperature that can affect your pets, it’s the humidity too.  Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, but when the humidity is high it is difficult for them to cool themselves.  This can cause their body temperature to rise dangerously very quickly.  Be mindful of this, and pay attention to your pet in the high humidity.

Provide shade and water when outside

Dehydration is a real possibility in the summer.  The signs of dehydration include dry gums, loss of skin elasticity, and excessive drooling.  To avoid this, it is important to provide plenty of shade and water anytime your pet is outside.  Tree shade or tarps can provide needed shade without obstructing airflow. Ensure that your pet has plenty of fresh water, and add ice to water whenever possible.  When playing outside, give your pets plenty of breaks and plenty of water. In the summer months, it is best not to leave your pet alone outside for more than a few minutes.

Limit exercise on hot days

Changing your exercise schedule, duration, and intensity level is key during the hot summer months.  On hot days, limit exercise to early mornings or evenings when it is cooler.  Take plenty of breaks, and have plenty of water available.  This is especially important for young kittens, senior pets, and short-nosed pets who typically have difficulty breathing. If your cat has just eaten, delay the start of playtime until she has had time to let her food digest.  Remember, asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.

Use sunscreen

Pets, like people, are prone to sunburn and skin cancer, especially those with light skin and short or thin coats.  Apply sunscreen if you and your pets are going to be outside for more than just a few minutes.  There are sunscreens available specifically for pets; you can consult your veterinarian about which is best.  Generally, they should be free of fragrance and contain UVA and UVB barriers.

Be wary of fertilizers and pesticides

Many lawns are treated with fertilizers and pesticides during the summer, which can be harmful to pets.  Find a safe spot for your pet to romp and play that is free from these harmful chemicals.

Avoid antifreeze

Antifreeze is a danger to pets all throughout the year.  During the summer, cars have a tendency to overheat more often and leak antifreeze.  Pets find antifreeze a delicious treat, but it’s a deadly one. Be attentive when walking your dog or letting your cat roam outdoors.

Being aware of the dangers of heat and humidity in the summer months and taking precautions to safeguard your pets is incredibly important.  Following a few simple safety tips is key to keeping the whole family safe and happy all season long.

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month!

Each year DAWS finds homes for nearly 300 cats and kittens. This is just a tiny percentage of the estimated 3.4 million cats that enter U.S. shelters annually, of which, only 37% of get adopted. Celebrate Adopt-a-Cat month this June and help us prevent this CAT-astrophe!

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month 

It is estimated that there are approximately 70 million stray cats in the U.S.  Each year approximately 41% of the 3.4 milion cats that enter U.S. shelters are euthanized.  You can help prevent this CAT-astrophe by:

  • adopting a cat from DAWS or another local shelter
  • ensuring your cats are spayed/neutered
  • volunteering to support a Trap-Neuter-Return program
  • encouraging friends and family to adopt a cat

On behalf of all the cats at DAWS – happy Adopt-a-Cat month!

Environmental Enrichment for Cats

Your cat is a sensory-driven creature who needs an outlet for her energy. If she is faced with a boring environment and no means to release tension, the consequences may be detrimental. Creating an enriching home environment is something every cat parent should focus on to keep kitty happy and healthy.

Keeping Cats Enriched

Environmental enrichment is something that cat parents may not necessarily think of when bringing a new cat home, but it is incredibly important to the well being of any cat. The finely tuned senses of cats have helped them to survive outdoors.  When we bring them indoors, (which is really where we want them), into an environment where there is little to do, a cat may find a way to release tension that isn’t so beneficial.  A boring environment can contribute to destructive behavior, aggression towards other cats, anxiety, or depression. This manifests in a variety of stress-relieving behaviors such as over-grooming, chewing inappropriate items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation, over-eating, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior and loss of appetite.

Play = Hunting

Patch Play v2_0Cats like being in hunting mode.  Dopamine is released in a cat’s brain when she is hunting, creating a feeling of eager anticipation.  This feeling of eager anticipation makes it less likely for her to feel bored, anxious, or depressed.  By providing enough toys and playtime, we can create the same feelings in our cats that they feel when they are hunting.

Cats benefit from both interactive and object play. Interactive play involves you engaging with your cat by holding a fishing pole-type toy or laser pointer that mimics some form of “prey” your cat can hunt. When you move the toy or dart the laser across or away from your cat’s field of vision, her prey-drive is triggered.  Remember, no self-respecting prey would plop itself right in front of your cat and say, “eat me for lunch,” so she will be less enthused by you dangling the toy right in front of her face.

Object play involves any manner of small toy (or for that matter, ball of paper) your cat can bat around and jump on.  When you place these toys inside various objects or locations, you can stimulate your cat’s curiosity.  Try re-purposing an empty tissue box as a hiding place for a furry mouse toy, or place a small ball inside a paper bag for some added fun.

Tunneling for Fun

Adding a tunnel for your cat to play in or hide can also be a way to add enrichment.  Fabric tunnels can be purchased or you can make one yourself by taping paper bags or boxes together.

Getting Vertical

Cats live in a vertical world and will often seek an elevated location for napping, to seek refuge, or even for security, especially in a multi-cat home.  Giving your cat the opportunity to get vertical can provide additional enrichment.  Vertical space can be created with cat trees, catwalks, or cat shelves and perches.


Every cat needs a place to hide. Regardless of the confidence level in your cat, giving her an option for sneaking away to hide is a good thing.  Donut or “A” shaped beds are suitable hideaways, but even a simple box turned on its side and lined with comfy bedding will suffice.

Cat TV

Visual enrichment for your kitty can also be a great thing.  If you have window perches set up for your cat, consider adding a bird feeder near the window so that your cat can be entertained by the birds that come to partake of the snacks you’ve left for them.  If that is not an option, consider investigating entertainment DVDs that showcase prey for your cats to watch.  You can even log onto YouTube and search “videos for cats” or “entertainment for cats” and find a plethora of videos of birds, squirrels, and other assorted wildlife that can keep you cats entertained.

Finding ways to create enrichment for your cat will ensure she stays happy and healthy.  That’s not just good for her, but also for the whole family.