Category Archives: Pet Tips

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens


Kittens born in April and May are reaching the age when they can be adopted at this time of year, giving us “kitten season.” The influx of kittens into shelters puts pressure on rescues to find room for all the cats. Thus June is Adopt-a-Cat Month.

adopt a catA few things to think about when you adopt:

  1. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two.
  2. Find a cat whose personality compliments yours.
  3. Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption.
  4. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home.
  5. Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat.
  6. Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives.
  7. Cat-proof your home.
  8. Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family.
  9. Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan.


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Filed under Adopting a Cat, Animal Rescue, Pet Tips - Cats

Easter Bunny

Rabbits are closely associated with Easter. Shortly following the holiday, our rabbit department sees an increase of rabbits who’ve been surrendered to shelters. Our rabbit intake department needs to find foster homes for too many rabbits. They’re happy to save them, but they really wish people would reconsider giving live animals as gifts.

Great Companion, Bad Gift

Great Companion, Bad Gift

Carrie (shown here) was a gift, but not everyone in the family was happy with this present. She ended up confined to a cage–alone–most of the time. She was sad and lonely; rabbits require social interaction as well as exercise. While rabbits are adorable and fun pets, they do require a lot of care and patience–often as much as a dog or a cat. Read about rabbit care, and if you still like the idea of a hopper around the house, please consider giving Carrie a good home.

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Filed under Adopting a Rabbit, Pet Tips - Rabbits

Upcoming Class in Bunny Basics

How to Care for Your Pet Rabbit

Rabbits are gentle, affectionate animals who thrive in calm, attentive homes. But they have specific needs to keep them healthy and happy, and they are not low-maintenance pets, as many people believe.

Einstein says come learn something new!

Einstein says come learn something new!

If you have–or will soon have–a special bunny in your life, please join us for this program (for adults and children 7 years and up). We’ll discuss rabbit behavior, care and supplies, and offer tips on how to choose–and where to find–the right bunny for your family.

Saturday, March 23rd 1:00–2:30 p.m.

Rocky Run YMCA
1299 West Baltimore Pike, Media, PA

This program is free and open to the public.
For more info: Call: 610-876-1479  •  Email:

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Filed under ACDC News, Adopting a Rabbit, Pet Tips - Rabbits

Winterize Your Rabbit


Outdoor hutch rabbits suffer greatly, especially in extreme temperatures–hot or cold–and become susceptible to illness. Bring your bunnies inside and discover what wonderful, litter-trained pets rabbits can be.

If you’d like to learn more, ACDC rabbit counselors are always available to teach you everything you need to know!

In addition, ACDC will present Bunny Basics: How to Care for Your Pet Rabbit at the Rocky Run YMCA on Saturday, March 23rd from 1:00–2:30 p.m. Come learn all about these gentle, affectionate animals – and discover exactly what a rabbit needs to stay happy and healthy.

In addition to discussing topics such as rabbit behavior, proper care, housing options, and litter training, ACDC’s rabbit experts will demonstrate proper handling techniques and offer tips on how to choose the right rabbit for your family. There will be information sheets to take home and plenty of time for questions. Join us!

Rocky Run YMCA is located at 1299 West Baltimore Pike, Media, PA.

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Filed under ACDC News, Pet Tips - Rabbits

Whatever Lola Wants…

A Rabbit Success Story

by Nikki Senecal

After finding a rabbit on Petfinder, Steven Calvanese and Kristen DiRado filled out the ACDC application. Lori, ACDC’s rabbit coordinator, contacted them with disappointing news. Three other families were interested in that particular rabbit. After a conversation where the affianced couple explained their lifestyle and pet ownership experiences, Lori suggested they meet Sally.  Kristen checked online for a photo of Sally, and fell in love with her coloring and her big, floppy ears.

“When we met her in person, her personality melted our hearts!  She immediately hopped up to me and Steven, happily greeted us, and then began playing without a care in the world.  She was very funny to watch, as she is extremely inquisitive. “

Growing up, Kristen had small animals, like hamsters, because of her allergies to cats and dogs.  Her family had rescued a very sick rabbit when she was young, and she noticed the fur didn’t bother her.  “Steven always had cats growing up, and I could tell he missed having a pet. “

Like many adopted pets, Sally has had a name change. After learning just how particular their new rabbit was, “we started calling her Lola; for whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!”

Lola receiving love in her new home.

Lola, Kristen says, is a character.  “She is determined and quite the risk-taker.  She is a champion hopper; one day I had turned around for a second, and then found her standing on top of her 30″ high house!  Although she looked very happy and proud, the thought of having to be rescued has stopped that from happening again.”  Lola likes to run up the stairs and dance and hop up and down the upstairs hallway.   After her bunny marathons, she likes to cuddle.  “If I lay on the floor, she’ll touch my nose to hers, lie down and fall asleep.  And no matter what she is doing, the minute you start petting those cheeks, she plops down and the world stops.  Of course stopping is not up to you; you get attacked by licks until you start again.”

Lola’s quite an ambassador as well. Kristen’s nieces are afraid of animals, but “It’s been nice to see my nieces interact with her.  We helped her by giving her a ‘furever’ home, but now she is helping my nieces understand animals more.”

Kristen recommends rabbits for those who have done research about rabbits and determined rabbits would fit with their lifestyle “Rabbits are not cats or dogs. Rabbits require space and attention.  But if you do your research, and love your bunny, you will be loved back, unconditionally.”

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Zippy’s New Home

Rabbits express joy by doing “binkies.” For those new to rabbits, binkies are when bunnies hop into the air often twisting midair and flicking their feet and heads. (Check out YouTube.) And since Zippy has gone to live with Amanda Mechlin and Mike Crowley in King of Prussia, he has been showboating not only with binkies but with his speed. “He likes it when we sit on the floor with him and he gets very excited and shows off.  He likes to come right up and let us pet him, and then he is off again! He is so fast!” says Amanda.

Zippy lives in Amanda and Mike’s living room where they can enjoy his company.  “It brings us so much joy to watch him run and hop around and do binkies.” When he’s not running around the room he likes to relax in a comfortable laid out position.

Amanda has always had and loved pets, which she feels are part of the family.  Growing up she had rabbits, “I always found them sweet and cute.”

When she saw Zippy’s profile, “I just fell in love with him.  I had never seen a rabbit with such unique colorings and a ‘lion’ mane!” When Amanda showed Zippy to her fiancé, Mike, he declared Zippy was “magnificent.” And the adoption process began.

Amanda describes Zippy as a “very charming little rabbit.” A fan of cilantro and romaine lettuce, Zippy also enjoys blueberries as a treat.

“I love spending our evenings with him. He has just made us so happy, and I can tell he is happy too!”

Amanda and Zippy

Please join the Animal Coalition of Delaware County in our support of the “Make Mine Chocolate Campaign” again this Easter. Rabbits, social but often fragile creatures, do not make good pets for small children.

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Filed under Adopted Animals, Pet Tips - Rabbits

Old Dog, New Tricks

By Nikki Senecal

Curly is an old dog willing to learn new tricks!

We hear it all the time, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Many people prefer to adopt puppies because they’ll be able to train the animal to have desirable behaviors whereas adult shelter dogs are “defective.” This line of reasoning relies on so many myths.

Recently, Deb DeSantis, trainer from Going to the Dogs was over to show Stella how to use her agility equipment. She told me that she has taught one of her senior dogs to weave through her legs since the dog no longer has the energy for the agility course. Old dog, new trick. Just think of the senior citizens flocking to community college and adult school classes: just because the body is no longer able, doesn’t mean the mind isn’t willing.

Most dogs—86%–end up in the shelter because of the owners’ circumstances rather than pet problems. But when dogs are turned in, it’s usually the energy required to train and exercise any and all dogs that lands them in the shelter. The owner is either unable or unwilling to exercise the dog as much as it needs to be “good.” Definitely a problem of a “defective owner.”

Choosing an adult rescue over a puppy does not guarantee you will never have any problems with your new dog, but it increases the probability that you won’t.  Of course, with any new pet, there is an adjustment period while the dog learns what you expect of it.  An adult dog can be specially chosen for various traits that will make her compatible with you and your situation.

Consider these reasons for adopting an older dog:

  1. Puppies poop and pee frequently. Puppies can only be expected to “hold it” for short periods.  A two month old puppy will probably need to go out every three hours around the clock. If no one is at home during the day, consider an adult dog. Puppies need to have consistent schedules for feeding, watering, and being let out to for bathroom breaks. Adult dogs are often housetrained, and they have adult bladders.
  2. Puppies chew. Our pup thought of us as human chew toys in the early stages; it took a lot of training to redirect her behavior. I’ve heard of puppies chewing baseboards and drywall, couches, shoes, and clothing. An adult dog is past the teething stage and is more discerning in what he’ll chew. Give an adult dog chew toys and bones to keep him occupied.
  3. Puppies aren’t done yet. An adult dog is what it is; you know her size, temperament, personality, energy level, and relationship with children, other dogs, and cats. With puppies — especially puppies whose heritage is unknown — you never know. If you need to be sure about what you are getting, get an adult. Shelters are full of dogs who became the “wrong” match as they grew up—but who may be right for you whether that is large or small; active or sedentary; sweet or brilliant.  Further, our foster parents can help guide you in choosing just the right match for you.
  4. Puppies need lots of vet care. Veterinary bills for a puppy are more expensive than for an adult dog. All those trips to the vet for puppy inoculations really add up.  Adult dogs are usually already spayed or neutered and have had all their vaccines; a healthy adult should only need to go to the vet once a year.
  5. Puppies are distractible. Adult dogs are better able to focus, and this helps during training. Although puppies can and should be trained, trainers will tell you it’s often easier to train an older dog. Adult dogs are more likely to already have some training from the rescue organization because it makes them more attractive to potential adopters.
  6. Puppies have a ton of energy and need hours and hours of play time. Adult dogs are still playful  but an hour or two of activity can really wear them out.
  7. Puppies must learn to play with kids. Puppies and children are not always a good match—puppies can be more easily injured by children and rambunctious puppies haven’t learned how to play with small humans, and are more likely to hurt or scare children. Children should always be supervised with animals but many adult dogs have figured out little kids aren’t little dogs.
  8. Puppies are very social. Pups are used to being with their litter mates. Time alone can be very stressful for them. Adult dogs still need companionship, but they can tolerate time alone better and they sleep through the night.
  9. Puppies need to grow up. Adult dogs are ready to be your companion now—you don’t have to wait for them to grow up to go to the dog park (after they have all their shots), to go on hikes, to go jogging (after a year, depending on the size of the dog), to travel. With an adult rescue, you select the dog most compatible with you.  You can find one that travels well, loves to play with your friends’ dogs, has the energy for jogging or long hikes, etc.
  10. Puppies can stress out your adult animals. Do you already have a dog or cat that needs a companion? An adult dog that is good with other animals is a better choice than an energetic, exuberant puppy who has to be trained to enjoy the company of other animals. It may be stressful for your animals while the new pup learns.
  11. Puppies aren’t the only ones with time on their paws. Adult dogs have years of life ahead of them. All but the largest breeds average over 10 years. And in the US and UK, mixed breed dogs average 13.2 yrs.

Most people get swept away by puppy love because those little faces are so cute and their awkwardness is endearing.  People come to shelters looking for puppies, so shelter pups have a better chance of being adopted than most adult dogs. But for many of us, adult dogs make the perfect companions. If a senior dog is right for you, please check out Curly.


Filed under Adopting A Dog, Animals in our care, Pet Tips - Dogs, Uncategorized

Feline Diabetes Part II: Treat, Manage, Control

How The Sugar Cat Got His Mojo Back!

In part one of our article on feline diabetes, we examined the types of diabetes, symptoms to watch for, and what to expect during a vet visit. Now we are ready to discuss the treatment options, the various types of insulin, and how you can do your own home monitoring of your cat’s blood glucose levels–saving you time, trips to the vet,  and money, not to mention less stress for your cat!

1: Proper Diet without question is the first order of business in management of diabetes. Cats are “obligate carnivores.” Obligate carnivores may eat other foods, such as vegetables, grains, or fruit, but they must eat meat as the main source of their nutrients. Cats who regularly consume a diet of poor-quality, highly processed, carbohydrate-rich food are on the fast track to becoming diabetic. The appropriate diet for a diabetic cat is a diet that is very low in carbs, low to moderate in fat, and high in proteins. (Sort of an “Atkins” diet for cats–the “Catkins” diet!)

Veterinarians usually prescribe a veterinary diet such as Purina DM, or Hills W/D or M/D. Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, a veterinarian who has done extensive research on feline diabetes, also suggests that several very good commercially-made wet foods that will meet a diabetic cat’s needs. Many varieties of Fancy Feastcanned food meet the high protein/low carb requirements–plus the cat enjoys eating the food as it is very tasty. Blue Buffalo also produces an excellent food called “Blue Wilderness” that is mostly meat, high in protein, and low in carbs.

Sometimes merely putting the cat on the recommended diet is enough to “kick-start” the cat’s pancreas  into producing insulin, and thus avoid having to inject insulin. However, this is not always the case with cats in a more acute stage such as cats with Type I diabetes.

2: Proper Insulin is essential in managing blood glucose levels. There are several types of insulin currently in use by veterinarians. Protamine zinc insulin (PZI, or Pro-Zinc) is a very effective insulin primarily due to the fact that it is animal-based, comprised of beef and pork insulin molecules which more closely resemble natural feline insulin. It can be given at 6-12 hour intervals, allowing for good control of the diabetic cat. Other insulins currently in use include Humulin insulin, Lantus (glargine), or Levemir. Although these are all products geared for use in humans, studies have shown them to be effective in veterinary use. Your veterinarian will choose an insulin that is appropriate for your particular cat. Proper insulin syringes are important as well as they come in many different sizes and gauges. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate size for the type of insulin for your cat.

Insulin syringes have a very thin, tiny needle and it is really very easy to inject into your cat. The insulin must be refrigerated, and it must always be mixed prior to giving an injection. This is not done by shaking the bottle, as insulin is fragile and you can damage the insulin that way. “Mix” insulin by taking the bottle, placing it between the palms of our two hands, and very gently rolling the bottle between our palms. Then we can draw the insulin from the bottle with the syringe and inject. Your veterinarian will show you how and where to give the injections. Typically it’s done further back around the hips or flank or, ideally, on the sides of the stomach. Try to rotate sites also, because repeated injections in the same site can cause a “granuloma” or knot of tissue that has poor blood supply.

3: Tight Management of Blood Glucose is the third component in managing your cat’s diabetes-and this is why home blood glucose testing has become so effective, and essential. For around $20, a blood glucose meter–just like people use–can be purchased at your local pharmacy. The most expensive part of home monitoring is the test strips for the meter. Each different meter manufacturer requires their own test strips to be used, they are not interchangeable. It pays to shop around, and some of the best pricing can be found on diabetic supply websites such as

Testing a diabetic cat

Cats can grow accustomed to having their blood sugar monitored.

Now, how exactly do you test your cat? We use the outer portion of their ear. The outer edge of a cat’s ear has very thin skin; it’s very easy to “lance” that spot of their ear. You do not need much blood, only about a drop the size of a pinhead. Once you have a droplet, then you take the meter with the test strip, dip the test strip in the droplet, and you will get a reading in about 5 seconds. Your veterinarian should be able to have one of their technicians demonstrate this for you as most veterinarians keep blood glucose meters in their offices. There is also an excellent video demonstration on YouTube.

By monitoring your cat’s blood glucose levels on a regular basis, you can see the gradual change in their daily levels, enter the readings into a log book or setup a spreadsheet in Excel, and review the readings with your vet. We followed this protocol with Miss Garfield, the diabetic cat I am fostering. When she was initially diagnosed with diabetes in October of 2010, her glucose levels were literally off the chart. When I first began testing her, her readings were over 600. Our veterinarian began with a regimen of 5 units of PZI insulin 2x per day. I was then testing her daily, and as our readings began to drop, we were able to adjust her insulin appropriately.

As of April 1, 2011 her readings were consistently in the 75-150 range so we took her off insulin–and she has been off ever since. I test her now about once a week just to make sure she’s maintaining normal levels. We are managing her with diet alone, she does not get stressed at all about doing the readings as she is used to it, and we save countless trips to the vet!

Editor’s Note added 7/20/11: Even though PZI and Humulin are very popular insulin protocols, we’d like to make note of the fact that not every insulin has to be mixed, in particular Lantus or Levemir insulin. When using either Lantus or Levemir, do not roll, shake or mix the insulin in any way. They are gentle, long lasting insulins that work great, in fact Lantus is one of the mostly widely prescribed insulins right now for feline diabetes, but if you roll or shake the vial, you will degrade the insulin and render it ineffective.
And thanks to Jennifer from for the reminder!


Acknowledgement to the following websites for valuable information:Feline Diabetes, Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkin’s website, Your Diabetic Cat, and Dr. Lisa Pierson’s website, Cat Info.


Filed under Animals in our care, Foster Parents, Pet Tips - Cats

Older is Wiser

Frida is a well-mannered adult.

My friend the primatologist once told me that young mammals appear cute to humans so that we’ll take care of them. (We evolved to appreciate the “cute” characteristics rather than the other way around.) Who doesn’t want to cuddle a kitten or rub the belly of a new puppy?

This is part of what makes older animals so hard to adopt. They no longer possess the attributes (big heads, playfulness, clumsy maneuvers, etc) that pull on our heartstrings. When kittens fill up the shelters, older cats are often sacrificed to make room for the “more adoptable” kittens, and by older, we mean cats sometimes as young as one—those who’ve lost their kitten-appeal.

But there are many good reasons to adopt older cats:

  • Adult cats are neutered and have had their shots; they are generally trained to use a litter box
  • What you see is what you get—you know what the cat will look like, what her size will be, and what her personality is.
  • Whether teething or just exploring, kittens can be very destructive chewers. Adult cats typically chew less, if at all.
  • Kittens tend to get into much more trouble. They climb you or your curtains, fall from high places, and knock over collectibles like your mother’s Belleek (ask me how I know). Adult cats have manners.
  • Older cats require less time and energy. Give them some quality time each day, but not your entire day. They are usually content to curl with you and snuggle in for a long nap.
  • While adult cats groom, kittens are just too busy exploring to clean themselves properly.
  • Adult cats may sleep with you or in their own cosy spot but they are generally happy to sleep when you do. Kittens often run around through the night, doing anything possible to wake you up for fun and games.

Relinquished cats aren’t “defective” There are lots of reasons cats ends up in shelters: family members developed allergies, or the owner is moving to assisted living, or the landlord said the cat has to go. They weren’t bad cats; they were just with the wrong people. But an adult cat might be the right cat for your family:

  • For homes with small children: a young adult. Little kids are often much too rough with kittens. Adult cats are better equipped to deal with kids. The wily cats can generally escape from children and hide.
  • For working people: young adult cat. Kittens become bored and mischievous when left home alone, but older cats know how to entertain themselves.
  • For senior human: senior cat. Older cats often end up in shelters because their human companions have died, and no relatives or friends wanted to take them in.  Senior cats are perfect for senior citizens who might pre-decease a younger cat.
  • For a household with a senior cat mourning a companion: another senior cat. A natural choice because older cats don’t tolerate the stress of a new kitten. With careful introduction, you can find companionship for your aging cats.

Older cats are grateful for a second chance at a loving home, and when you adopt them that gratitude is showered on you. If a senior cat is right for you, please check out Maggie; if a young adult will complete your home, consider FridaBlaze, or Marcus.


Filed under Adopted Animals, Adopting a Cat, Pet Tips - Cats, Uncategorized

Hot Bun in the Summertime

Cory is available for adoption.

Lori Vear, ACDC Rabbit Director, is hot and bothered. She’s working hard to get pet rabbits indoors during the summer. “Outdoor hutch bunnies face life-threatening conditions. Rabbits do not tolerate heat well, and high humidity combined with temperatures over 80 degrees can kill a rabbit,” Lori explains.

High temperatures can cause a rabbit to suffer from heat exhaustion. Rabbit sweat glands are located in their lips, which are not very effective in dispelling heat. Bunnies cannot easily pant when hot, compounding the problem. As the temperature rises, rabbits tend to drink less water, causing dehydration, and then they do not pant at all. Unsurprisingly, Lori’s on a mission to get people to keep rabbits indoors in air conditioned environments.

She offers these tips to help pet rabbits who must stay outdoors survive the heat:

  • Keep the hutch in complete shade and in a breezy area.
  • Fill clean, empty plastic soda bottles with water, freeze them, and put them in the hutch for the rabbit to lie against. Replace often.
  • Provide plenty of cool, fresh drinking water.
  • Know the DANGER SIGNS: A bunny who is listless, stretched out, panting, or drooling is in a state of emergency. Bring him inside, rinse his ears with room-temperature water, offer him a drink of water, and get him to a vet immediately.

Still, Lori and many others believe that rabbits are pets best kept indoors. “Indoor rabbits are affectionate, playful, and easily litter box trained.”

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Filed under Animals in our care, Pet Tips - Rabbits, Uncategorized