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Pet care and behaviour help topics


Pet care & behaviour

Most antifreeze is made from ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol-based antifreeze tastes sweet but is highly toxic to both humans and animals. To help protect pets, wildlife and children, the provincial government passed a regulation that requires the addition of a bittering agent to all antifreeze sold at the consumer level in British Columbia. The regulation, the first of its kind in Canada, took effect in 2011.

It is hoped that the addition of a bittering agent will make antifreeze less appealing. While this is a step in the right direction that will undoubtedly save lives, consumers should still be encouraged use antifreeze made from propylene glycol instead. Propylene glycol-based antifreeze is slightly more expensive, but is non-toxic to pets and wildlife.

Antifreeze facts

All cars, trucks, buses and farm tractors use antifreeze to help prevent their engines from freezing over in the winter and overheating in the summer.

Antifreeze is the yellow-green liquid that is poured into radiators and circulates through engines to keep them operating at safe temperatures. Conventional antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is very poisonous to people and animals.

Many animals like the sweet taste of antifreeze and will readily consume it when given the opportunity. However, antifreeze, even in the smallest amounts, can have a very harmful and often fatal effect on your pet. A single teaspoon will kill a cat and a tablespoonful will kill a 10-pound dog. Thousands of animals (pets and wildlife) die each year from antifreeze poisoning. Antifreeze leaks from automobiles and is spilled in garages and onto pavement due to careless fluid changes. In other instances antifreeze has been used to deliberately poison animals as an act of cruelty.

If you suspect your animal has ingested antifreeze, seek veterinary aid immediately. YOUR PET WILL NOT RECOVER ON HIS OR HER OWN. Time is critical as within minutes your pet will begin to experience kidney damage. Read more about what to do if you think your pet has ingested antifreeze.

Use animal-friendly antifreeze

Fortunately, there is a less toxic alternative to the ethylene glycol-based antifreeze that is most commonly used. Pet-friendly antifreeze is propylene glycol-based and is now available at some retail outlets or through your local automotive centre. If your mechanic isn’t using pet-safe antifreeze ask them to special order it for you. It may cost a few dollars more but it could save animals’ lives. You can download our campaign poster and provide it to others to explain why they should make the switch.

Animal-friendly antifreeze has anti-corrosive properties, is biodegradable and is recyclable, making propylene-based antifreeze a better choice for the safety of pets and wildlife, personal health, vehicle engine protection and the environment. Make the switch today!

Pet- and wildlife-friendly antifreeze is available in Lordco locations throughout the province. Uni-Select Automotive also offers these products nationwide and supplies them to more than 2,000 automotive centres.

Customers can request propylene glycol antifreeze from their automotive service centre or purchase it separately and ask that their auto centre install the product.

What can I do to help?

  • Download our poster today and help spread the word! (PDF)
  • Mop up spills and dispose of antifreeze properly.
  • Take used ethylene glycol or propylene glycol antifreeze to an auto centre that recycles antifreeze.
  • Never pour any used antifreeze (ethylene glycol or propylene glycol) down storm drains, sinks, toilets or on the ground.

British Columbia has a network of approximately 500 return collection facilities that accept used antifreeze (common ethylene glycol and propylene glycol), oil, oil filters and oil and antifreeze containers at no charge. Visit the B.C. Used Oil Management Association website to find a location near you or contact the Recycling Council of B.C. at 1-800-667-4321 for a list of outlets.

What do I do if my pet consumes antifreeze?

Animals who have ingested antifreeze go through two stages of symptoms. If untreated, death from kidney failure will occur within days. Learn what to do if your pet has consumed antifreeze.

 

Lots of people think of small pets, like rabbits and rodents, as “starter” pets. But just because they’re small doesn’t mean they need less care!  Find out how to set up your cage, what kind of foods to feed, and how to handle and play with small pets safely. Download our care sheets (PDFs):

Two guinea pigs with fluffy hair

Bringing a new dog into your home is an exciting time. For a dog going into a new home, it will be stressful. You know where everything is and you’ve been through your home lots of times. For a new dog this will be the first time he’s seen your living room, your kitchen, or even seen your cat.

Remember everything is a first for him in your home. Think of it being like when you moved into a new home or got lost in a new town. Have patience, understanding and be forgiving if your new dog doesn’t know something.

To make it easier on your new dog and to help him get use to your home, it’s best to plan for his arrival and his first few days. Think of what you will need, what he will need and make a plan.

Before you bring your new dog home

Dog supplies needed

  • Food: Make sure you have some of his previous food so you can mix it with his new food if it is different. Switching to a new food without a slow transition can cause diarrhea.
  • Food & water bowls: Have the right size bowls for your dog. Check with your veterinarian to see if your dog’s bowls should be elevated off the ground.
  • Collar & harness: Put a collar on your dog even if you only walk him on a harness. Collars will have his I.D. tag and license on. Do not use a choke, prong or any collar that causes pain, stress or injury.
  • Dog toys: Toys are an important part of helping your dog engage in normal dog behaviour. Get toys that are appropriate type, size and safe for your dog.

Husky dog playing and biting down on a toy with a man indoors

  • Dog puzzle feeding toys: Also known as smart or work to eat toys, they’re a fun way for your dog to work to get his food. These feeding puzzles engage your dog in doing natural scavenging behaviour. Some dogs will need to be shown how to use them at first.
  • Kong: Kongs that are the right size for your dog are great smart feeding toys. You can fill them with food and freeze them for your dog.
  • Bed: Get one or two comfortable beds and have them ready for when he comes home. Don’t forget his bed from the shelter, other home or rescue. It might be used however its familiar and will help when he moves in to lower stress.
  • Crate: Make sure the crate you get is the right size for your dog. A puppy will need a smaller one and as he grows, he’ll need more space. Your dog must be able to stand up, turn around and lay so he can stretch out comfortably in his crate.
  • Pee pads/puppy pads: If you have a puppy be prepared. Where will you put the pee/puppy pads, how will your pup know where they are?
  • Exercise pen: It’s always a good idea to use an exercise pen for puppies or new smaller dogs. These are idea when you can’t supervise and you’re working housetraining and chewing issues.

Things to plan for before your new dog comes home

Where will he…

  • Sleep
  • Go to the washroom – if it’s a puppy where will the puppy pads be, where will he go when outside?
  • Stay during the day – crate, dog proof room, day care, with you
  • Stay during the night – crate, dog proof room, with you
  • Crate – will his crate be in the kitchen, living room or your bedroom
  • Walk – where will you walk him, can he go to the dog park, what if he doesn’t like other dogs?

How will you…

  • Housetrain an adult dog or puppy – what’s your schedule? Puppies need out more often.
  • Reward him – for going to the washroom outside, where will you keep treats so they’re handy.
  • Train him – yourself or hire a qualified humane trainer.
  • Crate train – not all dogs are crate trained, you’ll need to train him & crate train puppies.

How…

  • Much food – should you feed him, when and how often
  • Long in crate – how long will your dog or pup be in a crate, too long is cruel and not fair
  • Dog proof room – setup a room with safe dog toys, bed, food & water when you can’t supervise
  • Trainers – how do you choose a qualified humane trainer

Merch shot of pro trainer wearing treat belt feeding a treat to a dog

What about…

  • His things from shelter, other home, rescue – take as many of his things as you can. His bed and toys will help when he has them in his new home.
  • Routine – set up a schedule so your dog learns your routine, this will help make things predictable for him
  • Veterinarian – when will he go for first visit, which veterinarian will you use?
  • Daycare – should your new dog go to daycare, which one?
  • Behaviour problems – What will you do if there are some you didn’t expect?
  • Elevator – has he been in an elevator before? How can you help him if he’s scared?

It’s important to try and think of everything you might need for your new dog. Getting your home set up so when your dog does come home you can focus on him and helping him move in.

dog tilting head on floor

New dog moving in

Day one

  • Bring him in the house on leash and let him sniff – let him get use to your home
  • Take him out regularly for bathroom breaks – don’t forget to reward him with a treat after he goes
  • Remind kids how to approach him and that the house is all-new to him
  • Take him for a walk – bring treats and let him sniff the neighbourhood
  • Teach family, neighbours and strangers how to approach your new dog for petting
  • Put his bed and some toys from his previous home out
  • Your goal during his first day is to help him learn about your home and have good experiences

Note – don’t bring your new dog or puppy home and just leave him alone while you go out.

What should I expect to do after day one with my new dog?

  • Veterinarian visit – take your dog to the vet for a checkup and a microchip if he doesn’t have one.
  • Learn about basic dog care.
  • I.D. your pet and get your dog license – visit your local animal control and get a license. It’s the law and it will help get your dog back to you if he ever gets lost.
  • Contact the shelter, previous owner or rescue with questions.
  • Have fun!

Happy mixed breed dog lying down being pet by smiling woman

Tags: dog, puppy

Cats are wonderful companions and giving a cat a home is a wonderful event, but it is important to remember that cats can be very timid and afraid when transitioning into a new home. When you arrive home, go straight to a small room where your cat can stay for a few days. There should be no places to hide in this room except for a crate or their carrier box.

The room should have a litter box, food and water bowls. Cats do not like to eat near their litter box so keep the food bowls and the litter box away from each other.

Tips for introducing your cat to her room

  • Open the crate or setup the Hide, Perch & Go™ box you got from the BC SPCA shelter and let your cat out. Let her explore the room.
  • Place the crate near a wall.
  • Sit on the floor and quietly observe.
  • Your cat may come to you right away or go in her crate. Do not hold, restrain or force her to do anything.

Leave your cat in the room. You’re excited, though being patient for a few days is the best and most loving thing you can do.

Remember a new cat coming from a home or shelter may have just experienced a difficult time in their life. They have lost their home and routine. Give your cat the time and space she needs to get used to you and her new surroundings.

Step 1

  • Go to the room as often as you can.
  • Bring gifts such as healthy and tasty food treats or toys (e.g. feather stick, cat ball) every visit.
  • Every person in the household should take a turn doing this.
  • Sit on the floor and place these treats near you or wave the toy around.

Step 2

  • Wait for your cat to come to you – DO NOT grab or attempt to hold the cat.
  • Talk to her – a high-pitched but quiet voice is always more reassuring for cats.
  • Try coaxing her out.
  • If she comes to you, pet her gently under the chin.

Every cat is different. Some may show you love and climb on your lap right away. Others may stay in hiding and watch you from afar until they feel safe. Take your cues from your cat. Let her make the decision of how much interaction she’s comfortable with her. The adjustment may take hours, days or even weeks. For more tips download our our care sheet (PDF).

Cat using scratching post and playing

Dogs bark for many different reasons. Figuring out why your dog is barking is the first and most important step to treating the problem.

dog up on window looking playful and curious

Dogs bark for the following reasons

  • Boredom
  • Anxiety when alone
  • Fear
  • Attention-seeking
  • Watchdog

Training options for barking dogs

1.) Boredom barking

Feed him with smart toys. Make sure he’s getting exercise and mental stimulation.

2.) Anxiety barking

See your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment plan.

Find more information in our fact sheet  Separation anxiety – Preventing and reducing dog anxiety when alone (PDF).

3.) Fear barking

Teach your dog that the things he’s afraid of are fantastic and predict fantastic things. Contact a force-free humane trainer to help you and your dog. See the BC SPCA Position Statement on Animal Training (PDF) to help you choose a qualified trainer.

4.) Attention-seeking barking

Many dogs bark to get attention or to make their guardian do something such as take them out or play with them.

To stop attention-seeking barking, stop rewarding him for it.

Don’t throw the ball, open the door or let him out of his crate if he is barking. These are all rewards to your dog.

He barks = ball goes away

He’s quiet = ball gets thrown

5.) Watchdog barking

Teach him to do something that isn’t compatible with barking. Teach him to get his toy so he can’t bark because he has his toy in his mouth.

Give him a time out

Teach him any time he barks more than a few times it results in him going in the penalty box.

Time out

  • After he barks say “quiet”
  • Next bark say “too bad” and immediately put him in another room

Eventually he’ll learn his barking causes him to be removed from the action.

An aggressive scary looking dog barking directed towards a person on a field

Veterinary help for barking dogs

Deaf, geriatric and dogs suffering from separation anxiety may all bark excessively. Check with your veterinarian to see if there are any health reasons for the excessive barking.

Caution

Do not use any tools or techniques that cause physical or emotional distress, such as electronic shock collars. Learn why your dog is barking and then train him or provide enrichment. Barking is a natural dog behaviour.

Resources

BC SPCA Position Statement Animal Training (PDF)

Barking – Preventing or reducing excessive dog barking (PDF)

Thinking of getting a second cat? Below are some tips for introducing your new cat to your resident cat (PDF).

Go slow with cats!

When bringing a new cat home to meet your resident cat, it’s never a good idea to just throw them into a room together. That can be scary for both of them! Go slow and introduce them. For both animals this can be a stressful time. A gradual introduction process is important for them to build a friendship. If one cat gets hissed at or swatted, she may always be afraid of the other cat.

Tabby cat with long hair wearing collar id being pet at home lying on a couch

Step 1 – Before you take your new cat home

  • Set aside one room for your new cat away from the resident cat’s favourite place.
  • Have at least one comfortable sleeping area, one hiding area such as her carrier box, crate or a “tent bed”, a litter box, a water bowl and a food bowl.
  • Plug-in a Feliway® diffuser. You can get one at your veterinarian office. It reproduces cat facial pheromones that are pacifying to cats. It will help lower their stress. It’s a good idea to have a diffuser in the new cat room and somewhere in the house where the resident cat spends time.

Two tabby cats in cat structure

Step 2 – Bringing your new cat home

  • Cats feel safe when surrounded by their own scent. Place towel or bedding she has been sleeping on in the carrier box so that she has familiar scent during the trip.
  • Once home, take your cat to her room right away. Do not come into contact with the resident cat.
  • Keep her inside the carrier box until you are in her room with the door shut.
  • Place her box or other hiding area in a corner of the room (away from the litter box) and place the carrier box beside it. Open the door.
  • Do not force her to come out. She may be scared and stressed by the new environment.
  • Leave her alone in the room. Allow her to settle down and come out on her own.

Step 3 – Later that day swap cats scent

Cats communicate visually but also by scent. So you must start by introducing the cats to each other by “swapping “scent.

  • Place your new cat’s towel on or near your resident cat’s favourite place and encourage him to approach
  • If your cat starts to hiss, spit or avoid the towel place it on the floor away from his bed or food bowl. Each day move the towel closer to the cat’s food bowl.
  • Do the same thing with your resident cat’s bedding giving it to the new cat for her to smell.
  • Swap food bowls between the cats. They will start to associate the positive act of eating with the scent of the other cat. If one of the cats is sick or on a special diet, ask your vet before trying this.
  • Once they are completely tolerant of each others scent proceed to visual contact.

Woman looking at tabby cat lying on the couch while cat looks to the side

How long will it take for cats to like each others scent?

This can vary from a few hours (usually when one is a kitten or both are social cats) to a few months.

Important tip when introducing cats

Set aside special play and petting time each day. You want to have one on one time with each cat when your introduction is taking longer.

Step 4 – Controlled cat meetings

First – Visual contact between cats

  1. Separate physically with screen door or baby gate. If not possible then open new cat’s door slightly so cats can see each other but cannot fit through door.
  2. Give cats treats so they spend time close to each other or play with a feather to encourage play. Do not use catnip.
  3. When comfortable with each other they will sniff noses, play through the door or rub against the door. When you see this, you can have a proper introduction. There should be no growling, or repeated spitting or hissing.

What if my cats are showing aggression towards each other?

Is the aggression more severe than a hiss or a quick swat? Make the opening smaller and over the next few days, feed the cats closer and closer to the door.

Second – No barrier between cats

  1. Open the door and let them explore.
  2. If they fight, interrupt them by clapping your hands or with another noise that doesn’t scare them.
  3. Don’t pick them up or force them to interact.
  4. Let them distance themselves from each other if that’s what they want.

Do they each need their own litter box?

Give each cat his or her own litter box and add an extra one. They should have their own bowls, beds and hiding places unless they choose to share.

Expectations

Introductions, when done properly, can take more time than expected. Introductions and building a relationship for some cats may take a few hours or up to a few months. Your cats may play and groom each other or just sit and watch each other. Don’t force them to be what you think best buddies act like.

Caution when introducing cats

Watch for bullying, sometimes one cat will not let the other one through a door, or have access to the food bowl. You may see them swatting or hissing when the other cat tries to go to the food bowl. Watch for signs one cat is avoiding areas. If you think she’s being bullied make sure she has her own space and things like bed, litter box, food bowl.

Never punish either cat if they show aggression. If you see, signs of aggression go back a few steps. Scent swap for a few days and start visual contact slowly again.

When to contact your vet about introducing cats?

  • Prolonged fighting
  • Injuries from fighting
  • One cat stops eating
  • One cat stops using the litter box
  • One starts spraying
  • One of your cats hides all the time

Adapted from cat behaviour research by Dr. Rachel Casey, Anthrozoology Institute, UK

A young kitten and older cat eat food together off a plate

 

Resource guarding is when dogs feel they have to guard their food, toys and other things from people or dogs. It’s an innate feeling that they have to guard something, as if like their life depended on it.

You can help prevent resource guarding from becoming a bad habit for your dog by teaching them when they’re puppies that it’s fantastic to have things taken from them.

Learn more about resource guarding, watch our video:

Looking for more information on why a dog might be aggressive? Download our Aggression to people – Reducing and managing dog aggression towards people (PDF) guide.

Cats are wonderful companions. Each has a unique personality – just like people! Some are shy and quiet while others are outgoing and social; but no matter the personality of your cat, they always rely on you as a guardian to provide a good home with what they need to be happy. Remember, a healthy cat is a happy cat!

Typical life span for a cat

13 – 20 years

How to keep your cat happy and healthy

Cat food and feeding

Kittens need good quality kitten food when they’re weaned. Adult cats do best on a mixture of good quality dry kibble and canned food. Feeding guidelines provided on the bag can help you determine how much your kitten or cat should eat in a day.

It is common for most cats to eat two to three meals a day. Feed the last meal of the day right before bedtime. An adult cat will sleep throughout the night. Kittens may need more meals a day.

Some cats need special diets. Ask your vet for a recommendation for your cat.
Your cat must have access to fresh water all the time. Change the water daily and wash out the bowl regularly.

A young kitten and older cat eat food together off a plate

Cat grooming, teeth and nail trimming

Grooming

Brush your cat on a regular basis, especially if they are long-haired. Regular brushing prevents hair from matting and removes loose hair. It also will help with hairballs.

Teeth

To keep your cat’s teeth healthy and tartar free, they need to be brushed daily. Buy a special toothpaste and finger brush from your local pet supply store or at your vet clinic. Do not use human toothpaste.

Nails

Nails need regular trimming, usually once a month or as needed. Take care not to cut the blood vessel (the quick) that runs through each nail. Cats who go outside do not need their nails trimmed. They need their nails to climb and defend themselves. If you prefer not to cut your own cat’s nails, a veterinarian can do this for you for a small fee.

Declawing cat

The BC SPCA is against declawing cats. Cat’s nails are not like fingernails, they’re attached to the bone. Declawing is a serious surgery. It’s like removing a part of your finger at the knuckle. Read the BC SPCA Position Statement Cosmetic and Other Non-Therapeutic Alterations (PDF). If your cat is scratching furniture, learn what to do.

Black cat wearing id indoors being brushed by woman

Identification (ID) for your cat

Nobody plans to lose a pet. Prepare for the unexpected and ensure your cat has two forms of identification.

Indoor cats vs outdoor cats

The BC SPCA recommends that cats be indoors, however, some cats get frustrated indoors and may enjoy outdoor time. Whether you choose to let your cat out or keep them in, know how to provide them with the best environment to keep them happy and safe.

Tabby cat sitting on perch looking out window curiously

Medical care is important for your cat

Take your cat to see a vet when you first get your cat. After the initial visit with the vet, you may only need to go back once a year for a check-up and vaccinations. Kittens will need to go back more often at first for vaccines.

It is also important to have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters. There are also many behavioural and health benefits to sterilization. Learn more about the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet.

Over time, watch for lumps and bumps on your pet. Also pay attention to signs of your cat not eating or a change in their behaviour. If you notice anything different talk to your vet. Find a veterinarian in your area.

Learn how to make your kitten or cat’s vet visit less stressful.

Cute black kitten getting a vaccination at the vet

Playtime is a special time with your cat

Cats love to play, explore, run around, use a scratching post and spend time with you. These are all essential activities for cats. Set up your home so your cat can explore, run and scratch on a scratching post.

Make time in your day to play with your cat with a variety of toys, rather than your hands. Learn what to do if your cat or kitten is biting and scratching your hands.

Cute black and white kitten playing with and biting onto feather wand toy

Further resources for cat care and behaviour issues:

Welcoming a new cat into your home

Introducing your new cat to your resident cat

Litterbox training your cat

My cat has stopped using the litter box

​My cat bites me when I pet her, how do I stop her?

The beauty of dogs is that they are social animals who adapt to our lives. They come in every shape and size you can imagine. Our job as a guardian is to care for them, train, understand their behaviour and protect them. Dogs are wonderful companions who we need to keep happy & healthy. Learn the best way to welcome a new dog into your home.

Typical dog life span

Medium to large dogs: 8 – 14 years
Small dogs: 10 – 16 years

How to keep your dog happy and healthy

Dog food and feeding

Puppies need good quality puppy food. Adult dogs will thrive on a quality dry kibble. Consult the feeding guidelines provided on the bag or can for how much your dog should eat in a day. It is common for most dogs to eat twice a day — in the morning and at dinner time. Puppies may need three meals a day.

Some dogs need special diets. Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your dog.

Husky dog eating from a bowl being held by a person

Treats

Dogs love treats. They’re important when training your dog. Use treats to reward your dog when he gets something right. It’s like saying thank you or paying him. You can even use your dog’s kibble as treats- they won’t know the difference. Save the yummy treats for things like calling him back to you or when he’s at the vet and nervous.

Merch shot of treat bag clipped on woman hip getting treat out to feed curious dog outdoors

Your dog must have access to fresh water all the time. Change the water daily and wash out the bowl regularly.

Dog grooming, teeth and nail trimming

Grooming

All dogs, whether short or long hair, need grooming. Longer haired dogs need to be brushed daily to keep mat free. Some might need to go to a dog groomer for grooming. Regular brushing will help you detect fleas or any lumps, bumps or skin conditions your dog may have.

Teeth

Just like humans, dogs need their teeth brushed for good oral hygiene. They can’t do it themselves so we have to brush their teeth. Use a soft tooth brush and dog tooth paste and try to brush every day. Never use human tooth paste. Go slow and make sure you have treats to give your dog after his brushing.

Nails

When standing, your dog’s nails should not be touching the ground. On average, nails should be trimmed once every month by a vet, dog groomer or yourself at home. Talk with your vet or local dog groomer for tips on how trim nails. Great care must be taken that you don’t trim too much. You can cut the blood vessel in the middle of the nail called the “quick.”

Exercise your dog

All dogs need exercise, no matter how big or small. Different breeds of dogs need different amounts of exercise but they all need to run and play every day. One or two short walks for a bathroom break is not enough. Leaving a dog in a back yard is not enough. Playing fetch, or taking your dog to an off-leash park where he can run around safely is best. If you’re not sure how much exercise your dog needs talk to your vet.

A golden retriever being walked on a leash down a paved sidewalk

Things to do with your dog

Feeding

  • Feed your dog in a dog food puzzle (feeding toy / smart toy)
  • These toys get him to work to get the food and make him think

Chewing

  • Dogs need to chew
  • Chewing something safe and yummy for dogs is like us getting into reading a good book

Sniffing

  • Let your dog sniff on walks – they’re born to sniff
  • Hide treats and encourage your dog to sniff them out – this game will tire them out

Exercise

  • Walk at least 30 minutes twice a day – older dogs may need short walks
  • Hike with your dog, give him lots of time to sniff things

Play

  • Play one-on-one games with your dog like tug-a-war or hide & seek
  • Rotate through their toys so old toys become new ones to them
  • Set up play dates for your dog to play with a dog friend
  • Take your dog to the dog park for play with lots of dogs – if he’s good with other dogs
  • Even dogs who don’t play may enjoy a visit to the dog park – make sure the other dogs don’t bug them and they’re not scared

Husky dog playing tug of war with a ball toy with a smiling man indoors

Identification (ID) for your dog

Nobody plans to lose a pet. Prepare for the unexpected and ensure your dog has two forms of identification.

It is also important to have your dog licensed – it’s the law. The license number will help people find you if your dog is lost. Check with your city, municipality or regional district about licensing and where to buy one.

Curious husky dog indoors wearing collar and id

Where should your dog sleep? Indoors or outdoors?

Dogs should be kept inside with their family. They are social animals who like to be around people. Set up an area with a comfy bed or blanket that your dog can call his own.

If you let your dog outside in a yard, it should only be for short periods of time. He should have a warm, covered place, away from wind, sun and rain. He must also have a dry place to lie down and fresh water. Best never to leave your dog outside unattended. If your dog is outside, learn what kind of shelter he needs.

Medical care for your dog

When you first get your dog, take them to see a vet. After the initial visit with the vet, you should plan to go back at least once a year for a check-up and vaccines. Puppies will need to go back more often at first for vaccines.

It is also important to have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters. There are also many behavioural and health benefits to sterilization. Learn more about the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet.

Always watch for lumps and bumps, your dog not eating or a change in their behaviour. If you notice anything different talk to your vet. Find a veterinarian in your area.

Learn how to make your dog or puppy’s vet visit less stressful.

Dog at vet getting checked out

Training your dog

A dog needs to learn what we want him to do or not to do. Learning about his behaviour and how to teach him what you want is one of the best things you can do for your dog. If he knows exactly what you want he’ll be happier and safer.

Training a dog:

  • Takes time
  • Patience
  • Should be fun
  • Works best when you use treats – it’s like saying “yes” you got it right
  • Takes practice – like people learning to play an instrument like the piano or guitar

Never use harsh verbal or physical corrections training a dog. Hire a force-free humane trainer who follows the BC SPCA Position Statement Animal Training (PDF).

Overcoming your dog’s behaviour issues

Some dog behaviour is normal for a dog but we find it annoying or think it’s bad. Other times dogs have behaviour issues. Jumping up, being afraid of people or things and reacting are just a few issues we see regularly.
We can help dogs, by better understanding and managing dog behaviour and ensuring they get enough exercise, enrichment and training.

Managing an aggressive dog

Preventing and reducing excessive dog barking

Preventing or reducing excitable dog behaviour (PDF)

Preventing and reducing dog behaviour problems (PDF)

Preventing and reducing dog anxiety when alone

happy golden retriever lying on a cushion couch indoors getting pets from a man

Dogs form strong bonds with animals and people with whom they live. Most dogs can cope with separation from family members for a few hours. Some feel anxious, stressed, even panicked when left even for a few minutes.

Signs your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety

  • Anxiety when you start to get ready to leave (panting, hiding, trembling, don’t want to eat)
  • Damage to your front door, back door or windows (door you leave from)
  • Injure themselves (bleeding paws, broken teeth, bleeding from mouth)
  • Refuses to eat when you’re not home, even high value treats (eats them when you come home)

destructive dog

See your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety

Never punish your dog when she is anxious. She is not destroying things on purpose. Separation anxiety is a type of illness that is highly treatable with a combination of medication and behaviour modification (behaviour therapy). Your veterinarian can help determine whether your dog has separation anxiety or another condition.

Training options

While undergoing treatment it is best not to leave your dog alone in the place he usually feels anxious.
  • Take your dog to work if possible
  • Walk him frequently and have water available in a spill-proof bowl
  • Leave him with a sitter or at doggie daycare
  • Have someone stay at home with the dog

Learn more about how you can deal with Separation anxiety – Preventing and reducing dog anxiety when alone (PDF).

Dog waits for their owner to come home

To help cats cope with the stress of being at a shelter, the BC SPCA developed the Hide, Perch & Go™ box. The box provides cats with more control over their limited environment and allows them to express behaviours such as hiding, perching and face rubbing (scent marking). All of these are natural cat behaviours that help reduce stress.

The Hide, Perch & Go™ box is included with the adoption of your new feline friend! Learn more.

 

If your dog has not been indoors for a long time

Curious husky dog indoors wearing collar and idStart slowly. Your dog needs to get used to being indoors. Put a leash on her and bring her inside for short periods, even for just a few minutes to give her a tasty treat.

Toss treats in the doorway to encourage her to enter if she is too nervous. Never force her. Gradually have her spend more time inside with you. Once she is relaxed, give her time off leash in the house.

Feeding helps a dog get comfortable with being indoors

  1. Provide your dog with a mat when you feed her outside.
  2. Feed your dog each meal on the mat; she can be standing, sitting or lying on the mat.
  3. Remove the mat once she is finished eating. Bring it out again with the next meal.
  4. Once she is comfortable eating on the mat, bring it indoors along with your dog on a leash at feeding time.
  5. Feed her on the mat in the house.
  6. If she doesn’t want to come inside, continue feeding on the mat but move it closer to the door.
  7. Toss treats in the doorway for her to eat, while allowing her to go back outside if she’s too nervous.
  8. Your goal is to have your dog eating on her mat in the house and relaxing.

If your dog will come indoors, but she pees inside, chews on things, barks or jumps on people

Learn how to house train an adult dog that is used to living outdoors.

Was your dog outdoors because of a behaviour problem? Learn about dog behavioural issues and how to fix them.

What are some issues with keeping a dog outdoors?

Happy smiling dog lying under blankets in a dog bed

Spaying or neutering your dog, cat or rabbit doesn’t just help prevent accidental litters. It also has health and behavioural benefits for your pet.

Tired happy dog lying down on side with eyes closed outdoors being given a belly scratch rub

Benefits of spaying and neutering your pet

Generally, neutering decreases aggressive behaviours in pets

  • Neutered dogs are calmer and less likely to bite, attack or get into dog fights.
  • Neutered cats and rabbits don’t have the drive to mark and protect their territories and are less likely to spray or get into fights, resulting in fewer injuries.

Spaying ends the heat cycle in females

  • Heat cycles are usually twice a year for dogs, and result in many unwanted behavioural changes including possible aggression.
  • Cats generally go in and out of heat every three weeks between January and November.
  • Female cats in heat can howl relentlessly, may try to escape to mate, spray or urinate inappropriately and attract unwanted male cats.

Spaying and neutering lowers the chance of reproductive health problems

  • Studies show that spayed/neutered pets, on average, live longer.
  • Spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer and pyometra (life-threatening infection of the uterus) in dogs, cats, and rabbits. Up to 80% of unspayed rabbits will develop uterine cancer.
  • Spaying reduces the risk of mammary cancer in cats, dogs, and rabbits.
  • Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer in all species and lowers the risk of prostate problems in male dogs.

Spaying and neutering eliminates the drive to reproduce

  • The likelihood of your male pet wandering away or escaping will be decreased.
  • Male dogs can smell a female in heat up to a kilometre away.
  • Once neutered, your pet will be less frustrated and may become a calmer companion.

Spaying and neutering provides an opportunity to have other important procedures performed

  • Other procedures, as necessary, can also be done at the time of the operation.
  • This includes procedures such as an identification tattoo or microchip, teeth cleaning, hernia repair and baby teeth removal.

Spaying and neutering prevents accidental pregnancies

  • Research shows that the majority of cat pregnancies are unintended.
  • Pregnancy is hard on the mom physically. Prenatal care, birth complications, and puppy/kitten care can be costly.

Happy relaxed black cat wearing a collar and id being held by woman

Spaying and neutering helps your community

  • Research shows that, as an individual, you help reduce overpopulation issues in your community when you spay or neuter your pet.
  • Spaying and neutering your pet helps reduce the number of stray or unwanted animals in your community.
  • Reducing the amount of stray animals helps prevent other pets and wildlife from being injured or killed in fights.
  • Fixing your pet helps lessen the amount of stray animals getting into or causing car accidents, getting into garbage cans and damaging property.

Learn how fixing your cat helps combat the cat overpopulation problem and how you can take action in your community.

But aren’t there also some risks to spaying and neutering?

Yes, any surgical procedure carries some risks. However, the overall benefit outweighs the risk for most animals. Talk to your veterinarian about the best choice for your pet.

  • Risks of surgery and anesthesia include pain, bleeding, infection, the incision opening up, or a bad reaction to the drugs used.
  • Spaying and neutering removes reproductive hormones from your pet’s body. This has many benefits but also has minor effects on bone development and other body systems.
  • Several recent studies show higher rates of some bone and joint problems and cancers in purebred dogs spayed and neutered as puppies. These studies have attracted a lot of attention.
  • The studies involved small numbers of dogs who were already predisposed to the problems being studied because of their breeds. More research is needed to understand these risks.
  • If you are concerned about risks of spaying and neutering, don’t just consult the internet. Talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your pet.

Happy mixed breed dog lying down being pet by smiling woman

I still have questions about spaying and neutering

kitten looking up from cat tree

Shouldn’t a female cat/dog have a litter before being spayed?
Will spaying/neutering change my pets personality?
Will my pet become fat/lazy once it is fixed?
What does spay or neuter mean?
When should my cat/dog/animal be fixed?
What does it cost to spay/neuter my cat/dog/animal?

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a tiny parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. It can infect both cats and people, but most healthy animals and people won’t get sick because their immune systems will protect them.

How toxoplasmosis is transmitted to humans

Most people who get toxoplasmosis get it from eating undercooked meat or unwashed produce. Because cats only shed the parasite for the first few days after becoming infected, infection from cats is rare.

  • Handling and/or eating raw or undercooked food
  • Handling and/or eating unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking unpasteurized milk
  • Eating or drinking from contaminated sources
  • Being exposed to cat feces from their litter box
  • Being exposed to gardens or sandboxes that may have cat feces in them

Toxoplasmosis and pregnancy

Pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are more at risk for infection. If a pregnant woman becomes infected, her baby may have health problems.

Can pregnant women be around cats?

Yes, pregnant women can be around their cats, though there are some precautions to take:

  • Do not change your cat’s litter. If you have to change the cat’s litter yourself, make sure you wear gloves and thoroughly wash your hands after
  • Do not interact with any unknown cats
  • Keep your cat inside
  • Don’t feed any raw or undercooked meat to your cat

Grey cat wearing collar and id playing with a young baby and woman indoors

Still concerned about your pet and your baby?

  • If you have more questions or concerns about toxoplasmosis and your baby’s health, please talk to your doctor.
  • If you are concerned about toxoplasmosis and your pet’s health, please talk to your veterinarian.

Shelter medicine is a field of veterinary medicine that combines individual animal health care with the needs of the population. Shelter medicine is an exciting, growing field that is now being taught in many veterinary schools.

grey kitten being held

The main goal of shelter medicine is to improve the health and well-being of animals in shelters. Key aspects of shelter medicine include:

  • Infectious disease management and prevention
  • Population management and animal welfare
  • Medical, surgical and emergency care
  • Caring for and providing documentation for animals who are part of cruelty cases
  • Shelter facility design
  • Clinical behaviour
  • Community programs and working with community veterinarians to share information

Dog at vet getting ears checked

Shelter medicine recommendations may differ from private practice recommendations, because of consideration for the entire population and not just individual animals.

The BC SPCA has a shelter medicine program that provides provincial support to all sheltering branches using an evidence-based approach. Our program also hosts 4th year veterinary students from across the world who are interested in learning more about animal welfare and shelter medicine.

Visit our Professional Resources page for more shelter medicine information.

Most cats love to stretch and scratch something. Scratching is important for cats, it’s a natural behaviour.  Scratching also helps shed the outer covering on their claws and scent mark.

Instead of trying to stop them from scratching, give them something to scratch (PDF).  Put scratching posts close to an entrance or near where your cat sleeps. They usually stretch and scratch after waking up or when entering a room.

If they’re using your couch as a scratching posts, interrupt them. Don’t scare them. Interrupt and get them to scratch their post. Make sure to reward them for scratching their post.

Never use harsh verbal or physical corrections with your pet. If you feel like nothing is helping, talk to your vet about safe and humane nail covers.

Cat using stretching post playing with a wand toy

Declawing cats

The BC SPCA is against declawing cats. Cat’s nails are not like fingernails, they’re attached to the bone.

Declawing is a serious surgery. It’s like removing a part of your finger at the knuckle. Read the BC SPCA position statement on cosmetic and other non-therapeutic alterations (PDF).

Learn more, watch our video on cats and scratching:

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your cat is sick or injured. The signs that she’s sick might not be obvious. Cats have evolved to try and conceal when they are sick. Watch for the signs below and call your vet if you’re not sure. Make sure your cat has regular vet exams to prevent illness.

Cute ginger coloured cat lying down on cat perch post looking into lens

Signs of illness in cats:

  • Hiding, decreased energy, or other behavioural changes
  • Changes in grooming patterns
  • Changes in litter box usage (going outside the box, straining, etc)
  • Increase or decrease in appetite or drinking
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Bad breath
  • Sitting hunched over
  • Obvious illness or injury: vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, wounds, limping etc.

 

Yes, with a new pet it’s always a good idea to take them to a veterinarian to make sure your new friend is healthy. You can also get all your questions answered about vaccines or health concerns. Call your vet to ask when to schedule your first visit.

Make sure you bring your pet’s favourite treats and don’t feed a big meal before going to the vet so your pet is excited to get treats. You want your puppy or kitten to love the vet and not be scared, and the best way to do this is to make it a great experience every time!

Young cute black kitten at the vet getting a vaccination

Be sure to ask about:

  • Vaccines
  • Deworming and parasite prevention
  • Basic care – feeding, training, exercise
  • Spaying/neutering
  • Permanent ID such as microchip
  • Future health needs and monitoring

Puppies are a lot of fun and, like toddlers, they need to learn where to go potty. Remember it’s up to us to teach them and reward them when they get it right.

When house training your puppy, consider training him to like a crate. Crates can help with house training and chew training.

Training tip

Never punish your puppy for not going where you want or for not doing what you want him to do. We have to teach animals what we want them to do. If he doesn’t stay by your side he may not know that’s what you want. Reward him when he’s beside you. Use lots of treats and when he’s older you can use treats and life rewards.

When we do human things to dogs like petting them, we have to make it worth their while. Dogs aren’t born liking being touched and might not want to be pet by us.

If your dog used to like being petted and now doesn’t, she might be sore or have a medical problem. Check with your vet.

Learn more about how to approach a dog for petting so they learn to enjoy it, watch our video:

No, buying an animal you have never seen in person can be dangerous (PDF). In pictures and descriptions, the animal might appear to be cute, happy and healthy. However, once you’ve exchanged money and the animal is shipped to you, you might be in trouble – search for animals to adopt from your local BC SPCA shelter instead.

Curious cute black puppy dog lying on carpet indoors next to a basket

Issues related to buying an animal you’ve never met

  • The animal might not be socialized to people or could have behaviour problems. This means they could bite or scratch and might never enjoy your company!
  • An animal that looks healthy can be deceiving. They could have worms, parasites or even genetic diseases (PDF) with high costs and long-term heartache.
  • What if the animal isn’t a good fit with you and your family? Are you prepared to put them through the process of being returned? What would you do instead?

puppy in pet store cage

If you’re buying from a rescue, make sure you meet the animal in person – even if you have to drive for many hours to do so. Ask the rescue some key questions to make sure this animal is a good fit for you and your family.

If you’re buying from a breeder, visit the breeder’s home and facility. Do not trust pictures or scans of documents, these can easily be falsely created.

If a breeder asks to meet you in a shopping mall, parking lot or somewhere else away from their breeding facility to get your new pet, DO NOT purchase from this person.

Print out our guide (PDF) to take with you to a breeder’s home or facility.

Have you been lied to by a breeder? Report them. Call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre 1-855-622-7722.

puppy in pet store cage

Signs of a reputable breeder

  • Gladly shows you their entire home or facility where animals are kept, and introduces you to all their animals — both adults and offspring — including the mother of the pet you are considering purchasing
  • Openly talks about positive and negative traits of the breed
  • Provides veterinary records that show that the animals are healthy
  • The home or facility is clean and spacious, with the opportunity for the animals to receive regular exercise and socialization outside of their kennels/cages
  • The person breeding the animals specializes in one or two breeds
  • A good breeder will ask you questions about your lifestyle and experience to ensure you’re a good match

Good breeders of puppies and kittens:

  • Do not breed females who are too young or too old. Generally dogs and cats should not be bred at less than 18 months and should only be bred once in every two heat cycles
  • Expose puppies and kittens to household noises and new experiences, ensure they are handled gently by many different people and are kept clean, warm and well fed
  • Send puppies and kittens to new homes at eight weeks of age or, preferably, at 10 weeks
  • Are knowledgeable about common heritable (genetic) disorders in the breed and will discuss how they breed and test to avoid the disorders
  • Provide, at no extra charge, valid paperwork for registration and veterinary records, including vaccinations and deworming, for the puppy or kitten you are purchasing
  • Ask you to return the puppy or kitten to them if it does not work out

Signs of a bad breeder

  • Agrees to sell you a puppy or a kitten without meeting you (e.g. over the phone) and doesn’t allow you to come and meet them and/or their animals before purchase
  • Sells their animals to pet stores or brokers
  • Has run-down or crowded facilities, is reluctant to show you their facilities or has dirty, unhealthy and/or fearful animals
  • Sells animals without vaccinations and deworming and veterinary check, or guarantees against health problems including genetic defects
  • Claims an animal is purebred but does not have the registration to prove it
  • Will not take an animal back if a problem arises or offers another animal if the first one gets sick, rather than helping with your veterinary bills

woman lying with cat

Is my dog jealous?

We know dogs do what works, which means they learn how best to get your attention, like jumping, for example. If your dog is doing this when there is a baby around, maybe she has learned to jump up to get your attention. This isn’t jealousy, however it does mean you need to do some training with your dog.

Caution when you think a dog is being jealous

Don’t assume that what looks like jealousy, is truly jealousy. Many dogs are not comfortable around babies and may be scared of them. If your dog seems scared, don’t force her to interact with the baby.

baby and a dog

Reasons dogs might be nervous around babies

  • Never smelled, heard or seen a baby before
  • Scared by a baby crying
  • Resource guarding – guarding objects they feel are valuable

Some dogs will guard things they feel are “valuable” objects. A valuable object to some dogs can be anything from a kleenex, to a sock, toy or bone. If your dog does this, be extra careful. Never allow your baby (or any child or other animal) to approach the dog when she has their valuable item.

Black lab dog wearing a collar lying indoors on a carpet with a stuff toy looking up to a woman

Never punish your dog

If your dog is reacting aggressively to babies, children or other dogs, you should never use verbal or physically harsh punishment. If she is doing things like growling, snarling or even snapping, she’s giving signals. She’s telling you that she isn’t comfortable. You have to listen and never punish her for her behaviour.

Seek professional help – a veterinarian, applied behaviourist or reward-based trainer experienced with dog aggression. Make sure they follow the BC SPCA Position Statement Animal Training (PDF).

Tips for keeping baby and dog happy together

  • Before bringing baby home, help your dog get used to the sounds and smells of babies.
  • Do basic training with the dog. Teach her do things like leave it, go out of a room, settle, etc.
  • Set up your home with gates and a safe place (such as a crate, bed, or room) for the dog to retreat to.
  • Use praise and treats to help the dog associate the baby with good things.
  • Don’t reward attention-seeking behaviour like barking, jumping and begging.
  • Include the dog in walks and playtime with baby.
  • Let the dog get used to the baby gradually and at her own pace. Never force them to interact.
  • Never leave your dog and baby alone together, even if your dog is small.
  • Pay attention to what your dog is telling you. If your dog is afraid or acts aggressive, seek help from a professional.

two dogs playing with a tug toyThere are lots of things to consider before you get second dog:

  • Is your dog ok with another dog living in his home?
  • Does he just like his doggie friends at the park?
  • Maybe fostering a dog will help you and your dog test the waters?
  • What are the extra costs of having a second dog?

You may think it’s a great idea however your dog may not want a live-in buddy.

Learn more about whether you should get a second dog, watch our video:

It’s important to build a relationship of trust with your small pets. We like to pick them up and cuddle them, but small pets are prey animals. This means they’re hunted by others for food and the only time they’re picked up is when they get caught.

Respecting them will help you gain their trust so you can pick them up and pet them.

For more information on caring for small pets, check out our care guides (PDFs):

Walking your cat on a leash

Many cats like going outside and one way to keep them safe is to teach them to walk on a leash. Before you take them outside, get them use to wearing a harness. Most cats have never had something wrapped around their body like a dog has. Don’t force them to wear the harness, teach them to want to wear it by learning the best way to put a harness on a cat.

Once your cat likes the harness, then start taking them outside for short visits to quiet places. If your cat has never been outside before, this could be scary for them. Always take a pet carrier with you so your cat can jump in and hide if they’re scared.

Don’t forget to make sure your cat has ID before taking them outside! We recommend that all cats have a microchip, plus a visible form of ID such as an ear tattoo or a breakaway collar with an ID tag.

Signs your cat is ok on harness and leash

  • Relaxed body
  • Exploring and interested in area
  • Showing friendly behaviour
  • Walks a little bit and then lays down or explores

Signs your cat may be scared

  • Body pulled tight like they’re trying to make themselves smaller
  • Trying to hide
  • Refusing to walk, laying down trying to make themselves smaller
  • Ears back, hissing, vocalizing
  • Jumping or shaking because of sounds or people

Never force your cat

  • To walk by dragging them on a leash
  • To stay outside if they’re scared all the time

Cat outdoors wearing id and walking on a leash

It’s always a good idea to look at the benefits and the costs when considering adopting a second kitten. A young kitten will do better with another kitten, but it will cost a bit more because you’ll have two. It’s not always extra work when you adopt two, but it is double the fun for you.

Find a second kitten through the BC SPCA’s adoptable animals page.

Learn more about adopting a second kitten, watch our video:

The veterinarian’s office doesn’t have to be a scary place for your dog or puppy. Treats, a towel and plenty of petting can help. Not to mention lots of love!

Learn more about taking your dog to the vet and helping them learn it isn’t a scary place, watch our video:

Make your cat or kitten’s visit to the vet as stress-free as possible. Start with treats and a favourite towel, and take your time getting him or her out of their carrier. To learn more tips, read our care sheet (PDF) and watch our video:

Start with determining their age, then decide if you should leave them with mom, take them in, or call the BC SPCA. If they are very young, it’s safest to leave them in place until you can determine whether their mom is still caring for them. If you do take them in, their care will depend on their age.

Learn when to wait, when to act and how to care for kittens you find, watch our video:

When there’s a new kitten at home, it can be tempting to play with her with your hands – don’t! Your cute kitten will grow into an adult cat who might think biting your hands is a natural, normal thing to do. Instead, use big stuffed toys and wand toys to teach your kitten to play with their toys and not your hands and arms. Learn more, watch our video:

If you, your dog or other pets have been sprayed by a skunk, combine:

  • 1 litre of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) baking soda
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) liquid laundry or dish soap

Clean the affected areas with this solution. Avoid using the solution in pets’ eyes. Rinse with water and repeat if necessary.

Crate training or confinement training is important when you get a puppy or a new dog. Restricting their run of the house will help you teach them what to chew and what not to, as well as helping you house train your new pup or dog.

Learn more about crate training your puppy or dog, watch our video:

Nobody plans to lose a pet. Prepare for the unexpected by following these steps to provide your pet with identification.

Provide two forms of identification

  1. A collar and tag: Keep a collar and tag on your pet with your home phone number and address.
  2. A form of permanent ID (microchip or tattoo): Pets can slip their collars at any time, but they can’t slip a permanent ID. Make an appointment with your vet to get your pet a microchip or tattoo today.

Register your pet’s permanent ID

Register your pet with the BC Pet Registry, B.C.’s first provincial pet ID database, owned and operated by the BC SPCA.

Registration guarantees that your pet can be traced by all participating veterinarians and animal sheltering agencies province-wide.

Remember: Permanent ID has little value unless it is registered. Give your pet the protection of registered pet ID today.

Learn more about the BC Pet Registry.

Keep your contact information up-to-date

Have you moved or changed your phone number? Don’t forget to update your pet’s ID! Contact your veterinarian with your new information so they can update their records.

Is your pet’s ID registered with the BC Pet Registry? Updating is easy! Log in any time to update your contact information.

Licensing your pet

In most municipalities, a license for your dog is required by law. Call your local city/municipality to update the records on file or to get more information on licensing.

Side view of dog wearing collar id on a blue sky day outdoors

The BC SPCA supports force-free humane training methods based on the science of how animals learn. We do not support training methods or equipment that cause anxiety, fear, distress, pain or injury.

Learn more about the BC SPCA position statement on animal training (PDF).

Training should be fun for you and your dog!

Choose a trainer who uses force-free humane training methods. Force-free humane trainers will never use fear or pain on purpose to train your dog. They will support and encourage you as you learn to train your dog.

Humane = humane treatment for you and your dog.

Checklist for choosing a trainer

1.) Training method

What to look for

  • Force-free, reward-based/positive reinforcement (R+) training methods
  • Humane training methods that focus on rewarding/reinforcing what you want your dog to do and using motivators like treats, food, play (what the dog finds motivating) and not forcing a dog to do something

What to avoid

  • Training methods that use harsh verbal or physical corrections
  • Methods that cause anxiety, fear or pain to punish your dog for unwanted behaviours
  • Equipment or training tools that cause anxiety, fear or pain such as bark or shock collars, prongs, choke chains or sprays (even unscented) and are used to punish your dog for unwanted behaviour

2. ) Trainer

What to look for

  • Good teacher who can explain and demonstrate the behaviour they’re teaching
  • Teacher good at coaching you on how to train your dog
  • Sees both you and your dog as learners
  • Patient and supportive coach
  • Can adapt humane methods for each dog

What to avoid

  • Someone who can’t explain the behaviour they’re teaching and why
  • Anyone who can’t explain how dogs learn
  • Someone who calls themselves a balanced trainer (using both rewards and methods that cause fear or pain)
  • Trainers who adamantly refuse to use food as a motivator

3.) Education

What to look for

  • Trainer who continues to learn through ongoing education
  • Someone who is always trying to improve knowledge and skills

What to avoid

  • Trainers who feel they don’t need to take courses or update their knowledge (they feel they’ve done this for years and know how to train)

Note: Currently there are no standards in dog training, which means anyone can call themselves a dog trainer with no or minimal education.

4. ) Respectful

What to look for

  • Trainer who shows both you and your dog respect
  • Someone who has patience and explains to you that training will take time and patience
  • Someone who helps you learn

What to avoid

  • Trainers who use verbal or physical force to train (alpha roll, pinch, pinning, pushing into position or moving dog around, hanging on choke chain, helicoptering, prong/pinch collar, intimidation – staring or moving dog around with body, corrections)
  • Trainers who make you feel bad about your skill or the time it’s taking to train your dog

5.) Observe a class

What to look for

  • Trainer who lets you observe a class (make sure you do before enrolling)
  • Dogs and people having fun in class
  • Dogs look happy
  • Methods used in class are force-free and humane
  • Trainer is respectful and can clearly explain and demo behaviours they’re training and why
  • Trainer has at least three assistants for a class of 10 (the more assistants the better)
  • Trainer is encouraging and coaching people
  • They’re asking students questions
  • Class looks fun!
  • Young pups and dogs are in separate classes

What to avoid

  • Trainers who will not let you sit in on a class before enrolling (ask yourself why)
  • No assistants
  • No treats allowed
  • Not respectful of students or their dog
  • Trainer reprimands dog owner for not following instructions
  • Yells or is harsh with a dog or owner

6. ) Consumer alert

Dog training is unregulated

This means anyone can call themselves a trainer with no education after watching some online videos or by taking some courses.

As a consumer of dog training you need to be aware that training methods and tools can be misused, ineffective or cause harm. You must ask a dog trainer for transparency. What are the techniques they are using and instructing you to use on your dog. Ask them to describe their methods and ask if there are less harmful alternatives. Get a written consent form.

Ask all trainers:

  • What will you do if my dog gets it right?
  • What will you do if my dog gets it wrong?
  • Are there side effects to your methods and if so what are they?

I don’t feel comfortable with my trainer’s techniques

Ask questions

  • Are there alternatives that are less harmful/stressful for your dog?
  • Are there side-effects and what are they?

Side-effects

  • Using treats – your dog looks at your pocket all the time
  • Using a prong or shock collar – your dog may experience fear, pain and/or injury

When a dog is fearful or stressed it makes it hard for them to learn. Think of when you were learning a new language or how to play piano. How much would you learn if you were stressed or afraid?

  • If you still don’t feel comfortable don’t continue

Note: The BC SPCA does not certify dog trainers at this time.

Playful smiling happy dog lying on side on the grass

7.)  No guarantees

What to look for

  • Trainer who clearly states they cannot guarantee they will ‘fix’, ‘modify’ or ‘make your dog better’ as a result of their training
  • They are supportive and want to ensure satisfaction with their services

What to avoid

  • Trainer who guarantees results of training
  • Anyone who states they can fix all dog behaviour problems

8. ) Vaccinations

What to look for

  • Trainers who try to protect all dogs/puppies when in a class situation
  • Trainers who require vaccines
  • Sick dogs/puppies not allowed in class

Check with your veterinarian to ensure they’re comfortable with the vaccines required for class (both for adult dogs and especially puppies).

What to avoid

  • Trainer who says your puppy or dog doesn’t need vaccines to join a class
  • Trainers who allow sick dogs/pups to come to class
  • Mixing pups and dogs in class

9. ) Problem behaviours

Some behaviour problems are caused by underlying health issues. Contact your veterinarian if you see changes in your dog’s behaviour.

What to look for

  • Trainers who recognize some behaviours may be flags for a medical issue and ask you to contact your veterinarian
  • Someone who will refer to your vet for diagnosis of a behaviour problem
  • Trainers who work closely with veterinarians to modify behaviour

What to avoid

  • Trainers who diagnose medical issues
  • Anyone who recommends medications or gives medical advice and is not a licensed veterinarian
  • Anyone who tells you not to speak with your veterinarian when your dog has a behaviour issue
  • Trainers who say they can fix all behaviour problems

Important to remember

  • There are different ways training is offered. A trainer might come to your home, or you might attend classes, or your might board your dog while someone trains him. Choose what is right for you and your dog.
  • If you’re not comfortable, ask questions.
  • There are no guarantees; behaviour is variable.
  • Training your dog should be fun for you and your dog.
  • It’s OK to say please stop

Adapted from American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour AVSAB ‘How to Chose a Trainer’.

because training your dog shouldn't hurt

Sometimes, cats don’t like being petted, or they’ll allow it for a little bit, then bite or scratch. Teach your cat to like being petted using treats and their food. They’re not born liking being petted or touched, but we can teach them.

Learn more about how to pet a cat, watch our video and read our article:

To understand more about petting aggression, download Petting aggression when it comes to petting, not all cats are created equal (PDF).

 

Socializing your puppy is one of the most important things you can do to help him have a happy and healthy life.

What is puppy socialization?

There is a window or “sensitive period” in which to socialize puppies. This period, often called socialization period, is the first three months of their life.

During this time, puppies accept and like things they meet and have a good experience with. It’s not that they don’t experience fear, they do, but we need to prevent them from being scared during this sensitive period. We need to teach puppies about strangers and new things, and help them if they’re nervous.

Learn more about teaching your puppy to be good with strangers, watch our video:

Sometimes people keep puppies at home until they are fully vaccinated at around four months of age. While it is important not to let your puppy interact with sick dogs, and to avoid places where lots of dogs go (like the dog park) until they are fully vaccinated, it is not necessary to isolate your young puppy! You can still take him outside and socialize him with healthy, friendly dogs. Make sure he is up-to-date on vaccinations to minimize the risk as much as possible.

Make sure your pup has lots of good experiences so they learn that people, animals and other things are good.

Socializing your pup

1.) Introduce your puppy to lots of

  • Different people
  • Social dogs
  • Other social animals
  • Different sounds
  • Different environments
  • Trips and different locations

2.) Handling your pup

Handle your pup so he gets use to having his toes, ears and other body parts touched. Dogs aren’t born used to being handled and we need to teach them it’s OK. Give treats after handling.

Learn more about teaching your puppy to be good with handling, watch our video:

3.) Visit your vet’s office just for puppy treats

Make special trips to your vet. Ask your vet to give your puppy a treat when you visit. Try to visit the exam rooms and back of the hospital so your pup is familiar with the hospital and staff. Give treats in each room!

4.) Start puppy socializing classes

Find a puppy socializing class and start classes right away. If your puppy is not well, speak with your vet before going to class.

5.) Give puppy play time by himself

Give your pup some toys and let him play by himself. This may help with over attachment to you.

Curious cute black puppy dog lying on carpet indoors next to a basket

6.) Puppies need crate or confinement training

Teach your pup he has a safe place to go sleep or just to get away from things he doesn’t like. Give him choice. For example, if he doesn’t want to be in the room when the kids are playing or visitors are over, let him go to his crate. Forcing him to stay may make him anxious or afraid of the people you’re trying to socialize him with.

Your goal is for your puppy to have many different experiences during his first three months. Make sure he has good experiences and use rewards to help him build strong associations.

What if I don’t socialize my pup?

Puppies who are not socialized during their “sensitive period” may be fearful and aggressive. If they have no experience with different things or people, they can end up afraid of them.

Socializing older puppies

Unfortunately, the window for socializing closes at about 12 weeks. You can still help an older dog get used to new things, but they may never be completely comfortable.

Puppies need patience, time and supervision. Start with planning what you will need and what your pup will need when they come home.

Supplies

  • Food
  • Harness, collar and ID tag, and leash
  • Toys – chew toys, fun toys and feeding toys
  • Bed
  • Crate

Puppy proof your home so your puppy doesn’t get into things it shouldn’t.

Plan where you want your pup to go to the bathroom and give them treats when they go in that spot.

Crate training is an easy way to help housetrain your pup and prevent him from getting into things.

When you bring pup home, start handling and giving him treats after so he learns handling is a good thing.

How to socialize my puppy?

Don’t forget, if your puppy is under 12 weeks he’s at an important time in his life. Socialize him now and give him good experiences so he learns the world is a fun and safe place.

Sometimes, dogs can get overly excited while out and about, jumping up on you or others. We need to understand why they’re doing that and how we can teach them to do something else.

Learn about calming an overly excited dog, watch our video:

 

Congratulations! Cats are wonderful companions and giving a cat a home is a wonderful event. A new home with new smells, people and furniture means your cat may feel anxious, stressed and scared.

How to help your new cat adjust to her new home

When you arrive home, go straight to a small room where the cat can stay for a few days. There should be no places to hide in this room except for a crate. The room should have a litter box, food and water bowls. Cats do not like to eat near their litter box so keep the food bowls and the litter box away from each other.

Cute cat lifting head up to be nose to nose with girl

Tips for introducing your cat to her room

  • Open the crate and let your cat out. Let her explore the room.
  • Place the crate near a wall.
  • Sit on the floor and quietly observe.
  • Your cat may come to you right away or go in her crate. Do not hold, restrain or force her to do anything

How to help your new cat bond with you

Leave your cat in the room. You may be excited but being patient for a few days is the best and most loving thing you can do.

Remember a new cat coming from a home or shelter may have just experienced a difficult time in their life. They have lost their home and routine. Give your cat the time and space she needs to get used to you and her new surroundings.

Pretty cat with spotted fur looking up lying down on the floor

Step 1

  • Go to the room as often as you can.
  • Bring gifts such as healthy and tasty food treats or toys (e.g. feather stick, cat ball) every visit.
  • Every person in the household should take a turn doing this.
  • Sit on the floor and place these treats near you or wave the toy around.

Cat using scratching post and playing with a wand toy

Step 2

  • Wait for your cat to come to you – DO NOT grab or attempt to hold the cat.
  • Talk to her – a high-pitched but quiet voice is always more reassuring for cats.
  • Try coaxing her out.
  • If she comes to you, pet her gently under the chin.

Every cat is different. Some may show you love and climb on your lap right away. Others may stay in hiding and watch you from afar until they feel safe. Take your cues from your cat. Let her make the decision about how much interaction she’s comfortable with. The adjustment may take hours, days or even weeks.

Learn more about how you can welcome home your new cat and bond with them (PDF).

Dogs are social animals who like being around people and, in many cases, other dogs. If they live outdoors this often means they live in isolation.

Dogs left outdoors must have an outdoor kennel that is weather and draft proof.

Kennel must be:

  • Elevated
  • Insulated – both walls and flooring
  • Lined with lots of dry bedding (use straw versus hay; straw is dried out and hollow while hay is moist and will mold)
  • Checked regularly to make sure bedding is dry
  • Have an entrance that protects the dog from wind, rain and snow
  • Fresh water in a spill-proof bowl must always be available. If the weather hits sub-zero temperatures, you should purchase a heated water bowl.

A social species, even outdoor dogs need to get daily exercise, play and time with people.

Learn how to transition a dog living outdoors to living inside.

 

What is the rabies virus?

Rabies is a viral disease of warm-blooded animals that can be transmitted to humans. It is caused by a virus of the Rhabdoviridae family, which attacks the central nervous system and eventually affects the brain. Rabies is almost always fatal in animals and people once symptoms occur.

How is rabies transmitted between animals and humans?

The virus is transmitted through close contact with the saliva of infected animals, most often by a bite or scratch. It can also be transmitted by licks on broken skin or mucous membranes, such as those in the eyes, nasal cavity or mouth. In very rare cases, person-to-person transmission has occurred when saliva droplets became aerial. Bat bites can inflict small wounds and go unnoticed.

Who is at risk of being infected by rabies?

The rabies virus can infect any mammal. In North America, it occurs mainly in foxes, skunks, bats and raccoons, and can spread to domestic livestock and pets. In B.C. however, the only carrier of rabies is bats; no raccoons or skunks in B.C. have ever transmitted rabies.

Photo: Liron Gertsman

How common is rabies in bats in B.C.?

It is estimated that 1 percent of bats in the wild in B.C. carry rabies. In June 2004, four skunks in Stanley Park in Vancouver tested positive for the rabies virus. However, it was discovered that they all carried the bat strain of rabies; likely they had all been in contact with a rabid bat.

Cases of human rabies infection in Canada

In 2000 and 2003, two people in Canada died of rabies infection, one in Quebec (2000) and one in British Columbia (2003). These were the first cases of human rabies in Canada since 1985.

The most likely sources of infection for both individuals were unrecognized bat exposures. Without wound cleansing or post-exposure vaccinations, the potential incidence of rabies in exposed humans can be very high.

Does my pet need a rabies vaccine?

Dogs and cats account for fewer than 5 percent of all animal rabies cases in Canada. However, rabies presents a serious public health risk, and even indoor pets could come in contact with a bat. Some pets also need the vaccine for travel. Ask your vet whether your pet should be vaccinated.

What if my pet brings a bat home?

If your pet brings home a bat you should take your pet to a veterinarian. If the bat is available, your vet may send it for rabies testing. Additionally, your vet may vaccinate your pet against rabies and/or ask you to keep your pet in your home for several months to see if they develop signs of rabies.

If any person in your household has touched a bat with bare skin, seek medical attention from a doctor or local public health unit immediately.

What will happen to the bat?

The bat may be euthanized and sent for testing. As of April 1, 2014, CFIA veterinary inspectors are no longer involved in species collection activities. However, CFIA continues to perform and cover the cost for rabies laboratory testing involving domestic and wild animals and humans. This is vital as once the symptoms of rabies (flu-like including fever, headache, fatigue, progressing to GI and CNS problems) start to appear, there is no treatment and the disease is almost always fatal. However, wound cleansing and immunizations, done as soon as possible after suspected contact with an animal, can prevent the onset of rabies in virtually 100 percent of exposures.

What to do if there has been contact with a bat

Bat-to-person contact?

If treatment is given promptly after being exposed to (any bare skin contact) or bitten by a bat, the illness may be prevented by taking the following actions:

  • Immediately wash the wound or exposed surface with soap and water for 10 minutes and cover the area with a clean bandage.
  • Remove any clothing that may have been contaminated.
  • Immediately call your doctor and local health authority for advice.

Bat-to-pet contact?

Please contact your veterinarian to have your pet vaccinated and discuss whether a period of isolation/ observation is required for your pet. If the bat is available, your veterinarian may send it for rabies testing.

A dog may show aggression like growling, barking, lunging or biting for many reasons. Aggression is a normal dog behaviour but it can cause stress, injury or pain to your dog, you or others.

An aggressive dog barking and looking scary and angry

Avoid things that cause aggression

Most aggression comes from fear. Look for things your dog reacts to aggressively and stay away from them. Strangers, men, dogs or someone trying to pet him might be scary. If they’re too scary your dog might react to make them go away. Learn how to reduce and manage aggression towards people (PDF) or aggression towards dogs (PDF).

Put safety measures in place

Put safety measures in place to protect other people or dogs from getting hurt. If your dog has bitten someone or another animal, teach him to wear a muzzle so you feel safe and others are safe. Muzzles are OK.

Seek professional help for your dog

Ask your vet or a qualified force-free humane trainer for help. Get help from someone who follows the BC SPCA position on animal training (PDF).

It takes time to help change a reactive dog’s behaviour. Here are some tips for dealing with dog reactivity.

The BC SPCA recognizes that pet-friendly housing is limited in B.C. To make it easier to demonstrate responsible guardianship and work together to create humane communities, we have developed resources to help renters demonstrate themselves as good guardians and also make it easy for strata councils and property owners to effectively manage their buildings and suites.

Happy mixed breed dog lying down being pet by smiling woman

Yes, some BC SPCA shelters may be able to provide temporary care for your pets under certain emergency circumstances. Contact your local shelter to discuss options including how they can help.

Please note that our ability to help you may be affected by the current number of animals in our care and the resources available at the shelter.

Dog looking sad giving puppy dog eyes while being held and hugged by a girl indoors

Yes, some BC SPCA shelters may be able to provide temporary care for your pets under certain emergency circumstances. Contact your local shelter to discuss options, including how they can help. Please note that our ability to help you may be affected by the current number of animals in our care and the resources available at the shelter.

person holding dog outside sunnyOur sympathies for the loss of your loved one. If there is an animal left after a death, you have a few options including trying to find a new home for the animal. If you need the help with that, a local BC SPCA shelter may be able to help you.

Aggression is a normal behaviour for dogs, but some aggression is treatable. Talk to your vet or force-free humane trainer who adheres to the BC SPCA Position Statement on Animal Training (PDF). Then call your local BC SPCA shelter to see if they have the resources to help you and your dog.

 

The BC SPCA is not able to accept donations of pet medications that have been previously dispensed or used. These medications should be taken to a pharmacy for disposal.

Yes, the BC SPCA recommends pet insurance. In fact, with every dog and cat adoption, you get a complimentary six-week trial of pet health insurance provided by Petsecure Pet Health Insurance.

With pet health insurance, you can lower the stress of paying for large, unexpected or unplanned expenses with a monthly premium.

cat wearing two casts lying down

The cost of spaying or neutering your pet depends on many factors and will vary according to each pet’s circumstances and needs. For example, a large dog will cost more than a small dog. If your pet is overweight or in heat this can also add to the cost. Contact your veterinarian to get a more accurate idea of the costs involved for your pet.

Curious ginger kitten looking down playfully

The cost of spaying/neutering is small when compared to other costs of pet care, such as what you will spend on food for your pet over their lifetime.

Consider the possible costs if you do not spay or neuter. If your pet should wander off in search of a mate, you may be faced with paying fines and impoundment fees. You may also be faced with the additional costs of caring for puppies or kittens for whom finding homes may be difficult. Worse yet, think of the costs should your pet be injured while roaming for a mate.

Spaying or neutering is a one-time investment with life-long health and welfare benefits for your companion.

If you require financial assistance, learn about low-cost spay/neuter programs in B.C.

Vaccines protect your pet from getting diseases that are contagious and possibly fatal. Vaccinating your pet doesn’t just protect your pet, it also protects other pets in the community who may be too young or sick to be vaccinated. Vaccines also protect against some diseases that can be passed from pets to people.

All cats and dogs should receive vaccines. Your veterinarian can help determine which vaccines are necessary and the best schedule for vaccinating based on your pet’s lifestyle and age.

Talk to your veterinarian about vaccines for your pet.

Puppies and kittens should start their vaccines at six to eight weeks of age. Your puppy or kitten will need a series of vaccines before they are four months old. Schedules for adult animals may vary depending on lifestyle and vaccines needed.

Shelter or rescue animals may require more frequent vaccines while they are in the care of a shelter due to higher risk of exposure to disease.

Talk to your veterinarian about when to vaccinate your animal.

Allowing a female cat or dog to produce a litter does not have any benefits to the animal. Animals who go through heat cycles and pregnancy are at higher risk for uterine and mammary problems, including mammary cancer, which can be fatal.

There are health risks to the mother during the pregnancy and when giving birth. Proper pre-natal care, emergency care for birth complications, and proper newborn care are expensive and time-consuming.

Learn more about the benefits of spaying and neutering your pet.

A happy smiling dog sitting outside looking up with tongue out

Generally, spaying or neutering your pet will not change its personality. If there are any effects on behaviour, they tend to be positive (reducing unwanted behaviour). Spaying or neutering will not change your pet’s affection level or playfulness.

For females, there is typically no change at all. For males, there may be a reduction in some aggressive and roaming behaviours. If you have more than one pet, you will find they often get along much better if they are all spayed or neutered.

Learn more about the benefits of spaying and neutering your pet.

Most unintentional litters (particularly with cats) occur because guardians waited too long to have the surgery done. The usual recommendation is before six months of age for cats, and before six and a half months for dogs. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best time for your pet. Female cats and dogs do not have to have a litter before being fixed.

The BC SPCA supports early age spay/neuter procedures for dogs and cats. Pediatric sterilization prevents excess litters by ensuring animals are sterilized before adoption. This helps combat pet overpopulation and euthanasia of unwanted animals. All major professional, academic, and animal welfare organizations in North America support pediatric spay/neuter for shelter animals.

The BC SPCA will continue to promote other methods of combating pet overpopulation, including education and public awareness campaigns, non-surgical methods of sterilization, traditional spay/neuter initiatives and behaviour training.

The BC SPCA believes pediatric spay/neuter to be appropriate with the following qualifications:

  • The procedure takes place between 8 and 16 weeks of age
  • The animal is judged to be clinically normal and healthy prior to surgery
  • Proper surgical protocols specific to these young animals are employed
  • Post-surgery complications receive special attention

“Spaying” and “neutering” are surgical procedures used to prevent pets from reproducing. In a female animal, “spaying” consists of removing the ovaries or uterus and ovaries. The technical term is ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy. For a male animal, “neutering” involves the removal of the testicles, and this is known as castration.

In addition to preventing unwanted offspring, spaying or neutering has many health and behavioural benefits to the animal.

A happy dog outdoors on grass being pet by a smiling girl

The quick answer is yes! However, you still have to meet our four non-negotiable factors and the animal needs to be matched to the person receiving the animal as a gift. Please visit your local BC SPCA shelter or check out our adoptable animals. Learn more, watch our video on giving pets as gifts:

Fostering an animal means you take a BC SPCA animal into your home and care for them for us. While they’re in your home, we provide you with food and medical care until the pet is available for adoption. Foster families help animals recover from illnesses/injuries or provide them with socialization and love.

If you are unsure about adopting an animal, or unable to make the commitment at this time, fostering can be a great way to bring animals into your life.

While fostering is temporary, many foster families fall in love with the animal in their care and decide to adopt them.

injured dog

Some general things we look for in foster families:

  • Length of commitment from a couple of days to several weeks
  • Ability to spend time with the animal every day
  • Daily monitoring of the animal as needed
  • Ability to accommodate time to transport the animal, as needed, for appointments, treatments and weigh-ins

kitten with bottle

Fostering opportunities

  • Nursing dog with puppies
  • Nursing cat with kittens
  • Orphaned kittens or puppies
  • Sick or injured animals needing medical care
  • Animals needing help with behaviour issues
  • Puppies and kittens too young to be in the shelter

If you are 19 years of age or older, you can apply to become a foster guardian. Learn more about our program, download fostering for the BC SPCA (PDF) and watch the video below.

We have that covered

Don’t worry about bringing a carrier or something to take your cat home in. We provide what is called a Hide, Perch & Go™ box for you to take kitty home in.

taking home your BC SPCA adopted animalWhat is a Hide, Perch & Go™ box?

To help cats cope with the stress of being at a shelter, the BC SPCA developed the Hide, Perch & Go™ box. The box provides cats with more control over their limited environment. The box allows them to express behaviours such as hiding, perching and face rubbing (scent marking). All the natural cat behaviours that help reduce stress.

Hide, Perch & Go™ box helps lower a cat’s stress

As the box gets saturated with their own scent, cats feel safer and more at home. Taking their box home with them will help lower the stress from moving into a new home. New smells, people and furniture can make a cat anxious, stressed or scared. Something that has their scent and they’re familiar with will them adjust to their new home.

How does it work?

The box is designed so a cat can hide inside, perch on top and scratch or rub the sides of the box if they want. When you need to take your cat home from the shelter the box converts into a carrier. Once home you reassemble the box into a place where your new kitty can hide, perch, rub or scratch. And it isn’t something new, it’s something with their own scent on.

Putting Hide, Perch & Go™ box together

1. Take cat home
2. Open box and let cat out
3. Remove inside piece of box
4. Fold top flaps of box over
5. Attach inside piece on to top box
6. Place box near wall
7. Place bedding from shelter in box

 

Follow the same steps in reverse to turn your Hide, Perch and Go™ box back into a pet carrier.

Looking for a new cat? Visit the BC SPCA adoptable animals.

Work with animals and want to purchase Hide, Perch & Go™ boxes?

Find out how to order Hide, Perch & Go™ Boxes for your veterinary clinic, hospital or shelter today!

The average dog that comes into the care of the BC SPCA receives:

  • In-shelter physical
  • Temperament assessment
  • Behaviour profile
  • First round of standard shelter “core” vaccinations* (does not include rabies)
  • Flea and external parasite treatment as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatment as required
  • Spay or neuter surgery
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring
  • Housing
  • Feeding
  • Cleaning and supplies

Average cost of care for dogs based on an average length of stay of nine days: $445

*Standard “core” shelter vaccinations for dogs include: distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus, parainfluenza and bordetella (kennel cough)

A beautiful moment between a dog and a woman lying on a carpet indoors cuddling

The average cat that comes into the care of the BC SPCA receives:

  • In-shelter physical
  • First round of standard shelter “core” vaccinations** (does not include rabies)
  • Flea and external parasite treatment as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatment as required
  • Spay or neuter surgery
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring
  • Hide, Perch & Go™ box
  • Housing
  • Feeding
  • Cleaning and supplies

Average cost of care for cats based on an average length of stay of 18 days: $455**

**Standard “core” shelter vaccinations for cats include: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Before you decide to re-home your animal, look into these alternatives to giving up your pet. We may be able to help you keep your pet with you. If you don’t see advice on your specific situation, please contact your local BC SPCA to discuss your situation. If you are looking at rehoming your pet through the BC SPCA, learn about the steps you will need to take before bringing in an animal to one of our shelters.

Reach out to family members and friends

They may be willing to take on full guardianship of your pet. If your pet is already familiar with them, it may make the transition to a new home easier.

Discuss your pet’s personality and needs with them to make sure it’s a match. If it is a match, it’s a good idea to create a pet re-homing contract for each party to sign. Make a copy for them and keep the original.

Create a pet information posting

Be honest about your pet’s personality and needs. Include important information about your pet in your posting:

  • What was your pet like in your home?
  • What potential issues should a new home should be willing to work on?
  • Is there anything you are working on with your pet that a new home needs to continue?
  • What would be your ideal home recommendations for your pet?
  • What types of homes would your pet not do well in?
  • Any other information about your pet you want to include?

dog being held by person

Post online, at local veterinarians or local businesses

There are several websites where people can post their pet information. Talk to your local veterinarian to see if they have a public billboard for pets that need new homes. Some local stores and businesses may also have public billboards.

Have conversations with potential new guardians

Discuss your pet’s personality and needs to make the best match with potential adopters’ experience and expectations. Use our tips on making the right match to help guide you in your conversations with potential new guardians for your pet.

Transfer your pet’s registered ID

If your re-homed pet has a microchip or tattoo, you’ll need to transfer their records. This will increase their chances of being found if they get lost.

Ownership cannot be transferred without permission from the previous guardian.

  • If your pet’s ID is registered with the BC Pet Registry, you’ll need to complete an Ownership Transfer form (PDF). For more details on transfer of ownership, please call us at 1-855-622-7722.
  • If your pet’s ID is registered with a veterinary clinic or other company, you will need to go through their process of transferring ownership.
  • If your pet has a microchip or tattoo and you don’t know who it registers to or do not have the information available, contact your local BC SPCA shelter for advice.

If you still want to rehome your pet through the BC SPCA, learn about the steps you will need to take.

Eye contact shot of a dog outdoors giving sad curious puppy dog eyes while being held and pet by a woman

Register your pet’s microchip, tattoo or license with the BC Pet Registry. Submitting your pet’s information to this provincial database ensures your pet is traceable by all participating veterinarians, animal control agencies and humane societies.

Update Your Information

Have you moved or changed your phone number? Keeping your contact information up-to-date is easy with the BC Pet Registry. Registered users can also add additional forms of ID to their existing pet profile free of charge.

To report a lost pet, please contact your nearest BC SPCA branch.

A lost pet can be a stressful situation for both the animal and their family. Most animals belong in the neighbourhoods in which they are found and their guardians may be out looking for them.

If you think you have found a lost animal, follow these steps to increase the chances of reuniting them with their family.

5 steps to follow when you find a lost/stray pet

1.) Look for identification (ID)

Collar and/or ID tag: A collar or tag may have the animal’s home number or address. For dogs, some tags are municipal licenses and may not have the guardian’s contact information. In this case, call the BC SPCA or your local Animal Control who can help track down where the animal lives.

Microchips: Microchips are a reliable form of electronic permanent ID inserted under the animal’s skin. If you do not see a visible form of ID, the animal may have a microchip. You can take the pet to your nearest veterinary clinic, Animal Control agency or BC SPCA shelter to have the animal scanned for a microchip at no charge.

Ear tattoo: If the animal has an ear tattoo, contact the BC Pet Registry, a local veterinary clinic or animal control agency to trace it. If the tattoo is difficult to read, bring the animal to one of the above locations to read it at no charge. Some vet clinics also keep lost and found pet records and posters.

Other tattoos: Some animals may have a breeder tattoo on their abdomen or inside leg. In this case, contact your local BC SPCA location or Animal Control shelter. Often these tattoos are only traceable through the original breeder.

Curious grey cat sitting on windowsill wearing collar and id indoors

2.) Use the web

Post to social media: Take a quality photo of the animal and circulate it on your Facebook or Twitter networks with the location in which it was found. Encourage your friends to share the photo on their page.

Search online: There are websites dedicated to helping lost animals return to their guardians. These Canadian sites host searchable lost and found animal postings. On each of these websites, you can also publish a “found pet” post:

  • BC SPCA Pet Search (search lost animal posts and create a free “found pet” post)
  • Missing Pets in BC (search lost animal posts and create a “found pet” post)
  • Craigslist (search lost animal posts and create a “found pet” post)

3.) Search the neighbourhood

Talk to people in the neighbourhood: Neighbours in the area, especially other pet guardians, may know the pet you found. Talking with people may help you find the guardian without the animal having to go to the shelter. If you found the animal in a yard or in front of a residence, knock on the door of that home and kindly ask if it’s their pet or if they know the guardian.

Put up posters: Create your own eye-catching poster or make one for free with the BC SPCA Pet Search. Include a photo, description of the animal, where it was found, and a contact phone number. Post these in as many places as possible near where the animal was found (grocery and corner stores; local parks; telephone poles).

4.) Contact your local BC SPCA shelter or animal control

Report the animal as found. Let them know if you are willing to hold onto the animal until the guardian comes forward. If you’re unable to hold on to the animal, please contact our BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for direction on where to take the animal.

5.) Found the pet’s guardian?

If you find the guardian, please remember to contact the groups keeping records and let them know the animal is no longer lost.

What if the animal is not approachable?

Consider your own safety first. If the animal appears unapproachable, do not attempt to catch it. Call your local BC SPCA, Animal Control, police or RCMP.

A lost pet can be a stressful situation for both the animal and their family. Follow the steps below or watch our video for more information. Have you found someone’s pet? Learn what to do.

5 steps to follow when you lose a pet

1.) Search the neighbourhood

Search the area in which your pet was lost: Walk or drive through your neighbourhood several times a day, especially early in the morning and at dusk when it is quieter. Call your pet’s name and try shaking a bag of their favourite treats.

Ask around: Talk to neighbours, store owners, joggers, garbage collectors, mail carriers and others. Ask them to be on the lookout for your pet. Your pet may be nearby but too scared to come out, even for you. Ask neighbours if you can search in nearby bushes, garages or sheds.

Try the power of scent: Place a recently worn piece of clothing or one of your pet’s favourite toys outside. Animals have a keen sense of smell and familiar smells can bring them home. For indoor cats, try placing their litter box outside.

Put up posters: Create an eye-catching “lost pet” poster. You can make one for free when you create an account with the BC SPCA Pet Search. Include a photo, description of the animal, where they were lost and a contact phone number. Post these in as many places as possible near the area in which your pet was lost (grocery and corner stores; local parks; telephone poles, etc.)

Sad lost dog

2.) Use the web

Post to social media: Use Facebook or Twitter to circulate photos of your pet. Include details such as the area in which they went missing, the day/time of the incident and your contact information. Encourage your friends to share the photo on their page.

Search online: There are websites dedicated to helping lost and found animals return to their guardians. On sites such as the BC SPCA Pet Search, you can create a free account to post a listing or search Found Pet profiles posted by fellow users. You can also search pets brought in as strays to select BC SPCA locations.

3.) Update your pet’s ID registration information

If your pet’s microchip, tattoo or license is registered with the BC Pet Registry, our provincial ID database, you can update your information online or contact our call centre at 1-855-622-7722.

If your pet’s microchip, tattoo or license is registered with a veterinary clinic or municipality, please contact them to make sure your information is up to date.

4.) Visit BC SPCA shelters, animal control and veterinary clinics

Often shelters have several animals matching your pet’s description. Visit the shelter every 24 hours rather than calling.

Check BC SPCA shelters: Find out if your local BC SPCA takes in stray animals. All stray animals brought to BC SPCA shelters can be found online using our pet search.

Check animal control (City Pounds): Visit your local city pound or call them to see if an animal matches your pet’s description.

Check veterinary clinics and animal hospitals: If your pet was found injured, they may be at a nearby veterinary clinic or animal hospital.

5.) Don’t give up searching for your pet!

Continue to search for your pet even if you think there is little hope. Many animals who have been lost for months or years have been reunited with their guardians.

Was your pet stolen?

If you have evidence that leads you to believe your pet was stolen, contact the police on their non-emergency line. Permanent identification, such as tattoos or microchips, can help authorities track your animal.

Cats are not born knowing how to use a litter box. Kittens learn about the bathroom from mom. When we give them a plastic box with litter in it we have to teach them to use this as their bathroom.

Pet your cat, give a him a treat or engage in a play session every time he uses the litter box. Never punish your cat or scare him for inappropriate elimination.

Not using a litter box is one of the most common cat behaviour issues guardians deal with. Recognize when there is an issue and try to solve it. Your cat may stop using the litter box for medical, behavioural or emotional reasons.

Steps to litter train (house train) your cat

1.) Location of cat litter box

Put the litter box in a convenient and quiet area for your cat. Make sure the litter box is the right size and type for your cat. The rule of thumb is that a litter box should be one and half times the length of your cat. Go bigger if you’re not sure!

2.) Type of cat litter

Most cats prefer soft small grained litter. Your cat may prefer one litter over another, so when you find what he likes, stick with it. One way to see what he likes is to put several litter boxes out with different litter and let him choose.

If you have multiple cats you should have one litter box per cat, plus one extra.

3.) Take your cat to the litter box

Take him to his litter box after meals and naps until he gets the idea. If his box is in a separate room, put him in the room and close the door after meals and naps.

4.) Use treats to train your cat

Give him a treat after he uses his litter box.

5.) Cleaning your cat’s litter box

Scoop litter box daily and depending on the litter you use wash box every one to two weeks.

6.) No bad cats

If your cat has an accident never yell or hit him. Go back to step one or check out “My cat won’t use the litter box, what should I do?”.

It’s important to remember your cat’s litter box is a big part of her life. Keep it clean so that she enjoys using it. Learn about cat litter box maintenance.

Need more information? Download Litter box problems treating and reducing cat inappropriate elimination (PDF).

House train your dog in three steps

dog peeing outside

Where would you like your dog to pee and poop outdoors? Decide on the area and have lots of special treats ready to give him every time he goes in his area.

1.) Management

In the house, prevent any opportunities for your dog or puppy to have an accident. Keep him with you on a leash or crate him when you can’t supervise. Control his environment.

Puppy housetraining

  • Pups need to go outside more often than adult dogs
  • Try to get them out every hour or two so they don’t have accidents

What to do if you’re not home:

  • Make sure he’s been outside before you go and his bladder is empty
  • Confine him in a crate or dog proof room. Manage him like this in the house for at least three weeks.

2.) Train your dog where to go

Start a routine of visiting an area you do want him to pee and poo in.

  • Visit this area in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime.
  • Go with him to the area. Yes, every time!
  • When he pees or poos in the area say “yes” and reward him with a yummy treat.
  • Reward him every time he goes outside.

3.) Loosen up & interrupt

No accidents for two weeks? Now loosen up your management in the house. If your dog or pup starts to go interrupt him with ‘Uh Uh’ and redirect him to outside. Don’t scare him, just a gentle oops. Don’t forget to reward him for doing his business outside.

Tips

  • If your dog has an accident during the three weeks ignore it. Clean it up when he’s in the other room.
  • Remember they don’t pee and poo in the house on purpose. We have to teach them when and where to go and make it worth their while.
  • Do not punish your dog even if it’s only 10 seconds after the accident. This is ineffective and abusive, your dog will learn to be afraid of you and not to pee and poo outside.
  • If your house trained dog starts to have accidents get a veterinarian checkup. Make sure there are no medical concerns.

Dogs communicate with us through their behaviour. Peeing on your stuff may mean your dog is trying to tell you something. Dogs don’t do it because they’re mad!

Golden retriever dog lying down on a couch indoors wearing collar and ID

Is your dog house trained?

If your dog is house trained and this is a new behaviour, get a vet exam as there may be a medical issue at play.

If your dog has always had accidents then it’s best to restart your house training. Learn how to house train your dog.

Urine marking

Some dogs will pee on things around your house or outside to communicate, find a partner or to let others know this is their home.

If your dog is urine marking, start by house training him again. Always make sure his bladder is empty before you leave him alone. Reward him for going outside. If he’s not neutered, ask your vet about whether this might help.

Dog indoors getting caught peeing on leather chair

Does your dog have anxiety when you leave?

If you think your dog has separation anxiety, see your veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Signs your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety:

  • Panting, hiding, trembling, lack of appetite when you get ready to leave
  • Damage to your front door, back door or windows
  • Self-injury (bleeding paws, broken teeth, bleeding from mouth)
  • Refusal to eat when you’re not home, even high value treats (but eats them when you’re home)
  • See your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.

Dog waits for their owner to come home

When your dog pulls on his leash it can be frustrating and put both you and your dog at risk. Your dog might hurt his neck from pulling or you might slip and fall.

No-pull harness for dogs

A gentle and easy way to stop a dog from pulling is to use a special no-pull harness designed to prevent pulling. There are different types of no-pull harnesses on the market. Find one that works for you and your dog.

Training dogs not to pull

Train your dog not to pull on his leash. Dogs and puppies have to learn that it’s more rewarding for them if they don’t pull. A qualified, reward-based trainer can teach you how to train him not to pull and make it fun. Work with a trainer who follows the BC SPCA’s position on animal training (PDF).

Avoid prong collars

When a dog is wearing a prong collar and pulls, the sharp metal or plastic prongs stick into his neck, which causes pain. To make the pain stop the dog has to stop pulling. Prong collars cause fear and anxiety, and may make your dog afraid of you.

Is this new behaviour?

Cats learn where to go to the bathroom and how to cover it as kittens. It’s easy to teach cats to use a litter box because they want to be able to bury their waste. If they stop using their box it’s a concern. They don’t stop out of spite or disinterest; there’s always a reason.

Have you taken your cat to see a vet?

If not, get him checked by a vet, especially if he’s always used his litter box and now he refuses to use it. If so, and if your vet says he’s healthy, ask how you can help your cat or for a referral to a professional.

Try these cat litter box tips:

1.) Location, location, locationCat using litter box

Make sure the cat’s litter box is in a quiet location. Place it in a corner where no one can surprise or scare him and somewhere that isn’t busy. Keep it away from his food.

2.) Size does matter

What size is the right size litter box for your cat? Rule of thumb is litter box should be one and a half times longer than your cat. Go bigger if you’re not sure!

3.) Type of box

Think of what your cat needs, not what you prefer. A covered litter box holds the smell in, but this could prevent the cat from using his box. Boxes with high sides might be too difficult for older cats to get into or out of. Self-cleaning boxes might be too scary for some cats. And some cats don’t like plastic liners. A simple box at least four inches deep, the right length for your cat and without a cover is ideal.

4.) How many boxes

If you have more than one cat you should have a box for every cat, plus one extra.

5. ) Litter typelitter box for cat

Try different types of litter to see what your cat likes. Put four litter boxes out with different types of litter and see which one he chooses most often. Try different amounts of litter in the box, as some like deep litter while others might not. Stop using the freshener you’ve been using and when you find a litter he likes, stick with it.

 

6.) Clean it

For many cats a clean litter box is important. Try scooping it twice a day and cleaning it once a week. Some cats may not use it if there’s anything in it.

7.) No bad cats

Remember, you may think your cat is being bad and doing it on purpose. This isn’t true! There is always a reason why your cat is missing the mark. Find out why and help him, never yell or spank your cat.

Find more on litter box issues in our fact sheet Litter box problems treating and reducing cat inappropriate elimination (PDF) and in this video on how to get your cat used to their litter box.

Is your pet’s microchip, tattoo or license registered with the BC Pet Registry? Updates can be made at any time. Registered users can also add additional forms of identification (ID) to their pet profile.

Contact your veterinarian

Call your veterinary clinic so they can update their records. You can also register your pet’s tattoo with the BC Pet Registry.

Contact your municipal animal control office

In most municipalities, you must license your dog. Contact your local animal control office (e.g. City of Vancouver Animal Control) to update your phone number, address or family members on file. You can also register your pet’s municipal license with the BC Pet Registry. 

No. Your pet will actually benefit from spaying or neutering, because he or she will lead a healthier and longer life. Pets become fat and lazy as a result of overeating and a lack of exercise, not from spaying or neutering. Furthermore, spaying a female eliminates the possibility of her developing uterine and/or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the chance of breast cancer. Neutering a male eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

Two happy dogs running through a forest trail with a person behind them

Cat playing with woman with wand toy

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