How Diet Matters for Special Needs Dogs

Diet Matters for Special Dogs

Dogs with unique health challenges, be it a physical disability, chronic illness, or post-surgery recovery, require tailored diets. The right nutrition plays a critical role in supporting their well-being. Let’s dive into why and how diet is essential for these special dogs!

Nutritional Balance is Key

Just as with any other dog, it’s crucial that special dogs receive a balanced diet. This means ensuring they get the right amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. However, their specific conditions might dictate deviations from the norm. For instance, a dog with a muscular condition might require more protein, while one with kidney issues might need reduced protein intake.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Dogs with chronic illnesses or other health issues might develop food allergies or sensitivities. This can manifest in a variety of symptoms such as skin irritations, digestive problems, or respiratory issues. Identifying and eliminating allergenic ingredients from their diet can greatly improve their quality of life.

Special dogs may also develop a food sensitivity if they are on specific medications. There are a number of medications that are known to cause stomach upset, so switching to a food that is easy to digest or is catered to sensitive stomachs may be beneficial. 

Weight Management

For dogs with mobility issues, maintaining an optimal weight is crucial. Excess weight can exacerbate joint problems or make it harder for a dog with physical disabilities to move around. Make sure your dog isn’t consuming more calories than the recommended amount! On the other hand, some conditions might lead to unintended weight loss. In such cases, a high-calorie, nutrient-dense diet will help your pup keep on the pounds. 

Consistency is Crucial

Dogs with special requirements often thrive on routine, and this includes consistent feeding times and a stable diet. Sudden changes in their food can lead to digestive issues or exacerbate existing health problems.

This can be the case when giving your dog treats as well. Always test out new treats in small quantities to make sure they won’t upset your dog’s tummy. If you’re looking for tasty and healthy treats that both you and your dog can eat together, check out our guide on dog safe human snacks

Special Diets for Specific Conditions

Many common conditions require specialized diets. Some examples of that are:

  • Diabetic Dogs: Dogs with diabetes need a consistent and specialized diet, usually low in simple carbohydrates, to prevent spikes in blood sugar.
  • Dogs with Kidney Disease: Reduced protein, phosphorus, and certain other minerals are vital for these dogs to reduce the workload on their kidneys.
  • Dogs with Liver Disease: A diet lower in fats and certain proteins might be necessary, alongside increased fiber intake.
  • Heart Conditions: Dogs with heart issues often benefit from diets low in sodium to reduce fluid retention and strain on the heart.
  • Pancreatitis or Gastrointestinal Issues: These dogs may require diets that are easily digestible, low in fat, and rich in fiber.
  • Food Allergies or Intolerances: Some dogs need hypoallergenic diets, which might mean avoiding common allergens like beef, chicken, wheat, or corn.
  • Joint and Mobility Issues: Dogs with arthritis or other joint problems can benefit from diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Hydration Matters

While it’s always important for dogs to stay hydrated, special dogs might require closer monitoring. Dogs with kidney disease or urinary issues, for instance, can benefit from increased water intake. This rule goes for dogs that are on certain medications as well. Some medicine can cause dehydration or increased water intake, so always ensure your dog has fresh water available.

Consultation with a Veterinarian is Essential

The most important point we want to make is to always consult with a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist when determining the best diet for your special dog. They can provide guidance tailored to your dog’s specific health issues and needs.

Nourishing Our Special Companions

a dog with a pile of kibble Ensuring your special dog is eating a good diet is so important! While it does require some effort and vigilance on your part, the rewards are clear: a happier, healthier life for your beloved furry companion. Remember, food is more than just sustenance; it’s a pivotal tool in managing and improving your pup’s overall well-being.

For more information, check out these excellent tips on how to keep your disabled dog happy and healthy by!

Why Senior and Special Dogs Are Perfect for First-Time Adopters

Senior and Special Needs Dogs are Perfect for First-Time Adopters

When first-time adopters begin their search for a four-legged family member, they often envision adopting a puppy or a young dog. However, many don’t realize that there’s a group of dogs that have just as much, if not more, to offer: senior and special needs dogs. Not only do these dogs have abundant love to give, but they can also be an ideal match for those new to dog ownership.

Predictable Personality

Puppies are a blank slate, which means their personalities, energy levels, and quirks are still developing. With senior dogs, what you see is often what you get. Their personalities are already developed, making it easier for you to choose a dog that truly fits your lifestyle.

Less Training Required

Most senior dogs are already house-trained and familiar with the basics of living in a human world. This can greatly ease the transition into pet ownership for those who might be overwhelmed with training a young pup from scratch. And if your dog requires manual assistance to go potty, no training is needed either!

Lower Energy Levels

Senior dogs are usually past their hyperactive phase. This translates to less destructive chewing, fewer midnight zoomies, and generally a more mellow companion. For those who prefer a more relaxed lifestyle or might not have the time or energy to exercise a young dog frequently, a senior dog is an ideal choice.

Immediate Bond

There’s a unique appreciation and bond that forms when you give a senior or special needs dog a second chance at a loving home. These dogs often exude immense gratitude and affection, intensifying the connection between you.

Special Needs, Special Love

While special dogs do have different needs, they aren’t necessarily more demanding than those of any other dog. Every dog requires some level of adjustment and compromise from their humans. Don’t let a dog’s unique requirements deter you from adopting it; you might miss out on a deeply rewarding experience.

Shorter Commitment

One important aspect to consider is the duration of commitment. While any pet adoption is a long-term responsibility, senior dogs typically have fewer years ahead of them. For those unsure about the 10-15 year commitment a puppy might entail (especially when uncertain about the dog’s eventual personality), adopting a senior dog offers an opportunity to provide a loving home for the latter part of their life. This is ideal for people who are uncertain about what their life will look like in 5+ years.

Make a Lifesaving Difference

Older and special needs dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized in shelters. By choosing to adopt one of these dogs, you’re not only saving a life and offering them a chance they might not have had otherwise, but you’re also creating space in a shelter for another dog to be helped.

They Teach Compassion and Patience

Adopting a senior or special needs dog can be a transformative experience. It offers a fresh understanding of patience, compassion, and the purest form of unconditional love.

Adopt a Senior or Special Dog

While puppies and younger dogs have their charms, there’s an unmatched joy in giving a senior or special needs dog a forever home. If you’re a first-time adopter, consider expanding your search to include these often-overlooked gems. You might discover the perfect match you never knew you were missing.

If you want to learn more, check out our blog about choosing the perfect rescue pet!

The Resilience of Three-Legged Dogs

Three-Legged Dogs & Their Resilience

There isn’t a more perfect representation of resilience than the image of an adorable and happy three-legged dog hopping and playing joyfully in a field of grass. These remarkable dogs, often called “tri-pawds,” truly embody the spirit of resilience more profoundly than most!

Tri-Pawds, but not Troubled

Dogs are very adaptive and tough creatures. For them, life exists in the present moment; yesterday’s troubles don’t linger into today, and tomorrow’s worries haven’t arrived yet. When a dog loses a limb, whether due to an accident, illness, or birth defect, they don’t dwell on their loss. Instead, with the unwavering support of their human companions, they adapt, relearn, and overcome.

Physical Adaptability

You might assume that a three-legged dog would be considerably hampered in their physical abilities. While there’s no denying that the initial adjustment can be challenging, many dogs adapt surprisingly quickly. Their bodies adjust to a new center of gravity, muscles strengthen in response to changed gait patterns, and, before you know it, they’re off chasing balls and enjoying walks, albeit with a slightly different style.

Mental Strength

The resilience of three-legged dogs isn’t just physical; it’s mental and emotional as well. These dogs don’t pity themselves. They don’t see themselves as less-than or deficient. Their spirit, determination, and zest for life remain undiminished, often leaving humans astonished at their willpower.

Lessons to Learn

There’s a profound lesson in resilience and adaptability that three-legged dogs teach us:

● Live in the Present: Regret and fear often hold us back. By living in the moment, we can focus on the task at hand and adapt more effectively to challenges.

●  Embrace Change: Life is unpredictable. Embracing change rather than resisting it allows us to find new ways to thrive.

●  Unwavering Support: The importance of a support system, whether family, friends, or community, cannot be understated. When we lift each other up, we all rise together.

Resilience At Its Finest

a three legged dog smiling with its tongue outThree-legged dogs, with their unwavering joy and spirit, are a testament to nature’s resilience. They serve as a beacon of hope, a reminder that even in the face of adversity, life can not only go on but can be lived with joy, playfulness, and enthusiasm!

If you are thinking about adopting a tri-paw, or your dog has recently become a tri-paw, check out our blog on caring for a special needs dog.

21 Exercises For Your Senior Dog

Exercises For Your Senior Dog

Finding the right exercises for your senior dog is very important! Exercise will not only support muscle strength and joint mobility, but will also promote cardiovascular health, mental stimulation, and their overall well-being. Check out this list of the 21 best exercises for senior dogs!

21 Of The Best Senior Dog Exercises:

1. Walking: Just like in their younger years, a leisurely stroll remains the go-to exercise for senior dogs. Keep them short, frequent, and on soft terrains to reduce joint stress.

2. Swimming: Water aerobics is easy on the joints, making swimming an excellent exercise for senior dogs. 

3. Short Distance Fetch: Throwing a toy a short distance gives your dog a quick sprint without overexerting.

4. Step Climbs: Encourage your dog to go up and down a small set of stairs or an incline. This can help strengthen their hind legs.

5. Hide and Seek: This playful game keeps your dog mentally sharp and gives them a bit of physical activity.

6. Treat Puzzles: Toys that dispense treats as your dog manipulates them will mentally stimulate your dog while providing gentle movement. 

7. Sit and Come: Practice your “sit” and “come” commands with your dog to keep them mentally sharp and get them moving.

8. Laser Pointer: Laser pointers aren’t just for cats; dogs can enjoy them too! Move the laser around your living room to simulate a fun hunting game. Just make sure they don’t run into anything!

9. Treadmill Walk: Under supervision, a slow-paced treadmill can be a controlled environment for exercise.

10. Underwater Treadmill: This exercise is great for dogs with arthritis or other joint problems.

11. Playdates: Having some social interaction with other gentle dogs can boost your dogs spirits and activity levels.

12. Digging: If your dog loves to dig, set up a designated area or sandbox for them.

13. Scent Games: Hide treats around the house or yard and let your dog search for them.

14. Kibble Toss: Toss kibble across the floor or on your lawn, encouraging your dog to “hunt” for their food.

15. Walking On The Beach: Taking a walk on the beach requires more energy compared to walking on the grass or sidewalk, while still remaining low impact. 

16. Bubble Chasing: Some dogs love chasing non-toxic pet-friendly bubbles, which can be both entertaining and a good form of exercise. 

17. Indoor Obstacle Course: Set up an indoor obstacle course using cushions, low hurdles, and toys to encourage mobility and mental stimulation.

18. Stretching: Simple stretching exercises, like coaxing your dog to reach for a treat, can increase flexibility.

19. Massage: While not an exercise per se, a gentle massage can stimulate muscles, improve circulation, and help with relaxation. Talk to your vet to find out the best way to massage your dog!

20. Head Rotation Exercises: Encourage your dog to turn their head from side to side or follow a treat in a circle. This aids neck flexibility and provides gentle stimulation.

21. Learn A New Trick: A really simple way to keep your dog active is by teaching them a new trick, like “roll over.” It doesn’t require too much physical exertion and will be great for bonding!

Keep Them Moving

senior dog in wheelchair This list is just a guide. It’s up to you as the pet parent to monitor your senior pup’s comfort and activity levels to decide what exercise will be best for them. And remember to always consult with your vet before starting any new form of exercise!

With the right activities, you can help ensure your senior dog remains happy, healthy, and active in their golden years!

Want more tips for keeping your senior dog healthy? Check out our blog on nutrition tips for senior dogs!

Helping Your Special Needs Dog Play With Other Dogs

Helping Your Special Dog with Playtime

Every dog, regardless of their abilities, craves social interaction. Special needs dogs – whether they are physically challenged, blind, deaf, or have behavioral concerns – are no exception. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of your dog’s unique needs so they can have a “pawsitive” playtime experience! Here are some of our tips and tricks to help you ensure that your dog’s playtime is always enjoyable!

Understand Your Special Dog

Familiarize yourself with your dog’s specific challenges. For example, a blind dog might be startled by sudden approaches, while a deaf dog may not respond to auditory cues. You should also observe how your dog interacts in familiar environments to gauge their comfort and response to stimuli.

Choose the Right Playmates

Introduce your pup to other dogs that are calm, patient, and have a history of positive interactions with other dogs. Avoid overly boisterous or dominant dogs that might inadvertently harm or intimidate your special dog. For more information on choosing the right playmate for your dog, check out this article by The Wildest. 

Select a Safe Environment

Choose a quiet, enclosed area for introductions to reduce distractions and prevent the possibility of dogs running away. Remove any obstacles or hazards that might pose a problem for your dog. For instance, if your dog has mobility issues, ensure that the ground is even. If your dog is blind, make sure there aren’t any sharp corners that your dog can bump into. 

Use Positive Reinforcement

Reward your dog and their playmates with treats and praise when they interact gently and calmly. This helps in creating positive associations with other dogs and reinforcing desired behaviors. Want some fun treat ideas that your dog will love? Check out our blog on dog-safe human snacks!

Supervise Playtime

Always be present and actively monitor your dog’s interactions. Step in calmly if play becomes too rough or if either dog seems stressed or overwhelmed.

Start Slow

Begin introducing your special dog to others with short play sessions and gradually increase the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable. Consider using a leash or long line initially to ensure you can quickly intervene if necessary.

Educate Other Dog Owners

Inform others about your dog’s special needs and any specific behaviors they should be aware of. Kindly ask them to intervene or recall their dog if the play gets too rough.

Trust Your Instincts

As the owner, you know your dog best. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to end the play session and try again another day.

Seek Expert Advice

If you’re unsure about how to facilitate play or if problems arise, consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who has experience with special dogs.

Have Patience with Your Special Dog

two dogs laying in the grass togetherWhile there may be a learning curve for facilitating playtime for your special dog, the reward is totally worth it! The companionship of another dog can provide your pup with comfort, boosted confidence, mental stimulation, and lots of fun. With understanding, patience, and the right strategies, your special dog can experience the joy of play just like any other dog!

A Step-By-Step Guide for Creating a Daily Routine for Paralyzed Dogs

Your Routine for Paralyzed Dogs

Living with a paralyzed dog requires dedication, patience, and a deep understanding of their unique needs. Despite their physical limitations, paralyzed dogs lead joyful and fulfilling lives when provided with the right care and love. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide to forming a daily care routine for your special dog.

Morning Check-In:

Begin the day by assessing your dog’s overall condition. Check for sores, swelling, or areas of discomfort. You can also incorporate gentle stretches to help with muscle tone and circulation – just remember to consult a vet or physical therapist first for appropriate stretching techniques. Not only does a morning check-in give you an idea of where your dog’s health is at, but it also provides the opportunity to have an uninterrupted bonding moment before the day gets started!

Clean Them Up:

Sergeant, a dog wearing a diaper, smiling at the camera

Paralyzed dogs may not have full control over their bladder or bowels. After your morning assessment, begin a clean-up, ensuring your dog is squeaky clean and ready for the day! You can give them a bath with a gentle shampoo, or use dog-safe wet wipes to make cleaning a little bit easier and more time efficient. It doesn’t hurt to keep some wet wipes with you wherever you go with your dog – you never know when they will have to go! 

Pro Tip: You can also look into purchasing (some very adorable) dog diapers to help contain any overnight messes. Some dogs even wear them 24/7! Check out the cute diaper Sergeant is wearing! 

Feeding Time:

A balanced diet is crucial for maintaining good health. Depending on your dog’s paralysis level and current health, they might require specific dietary needs. Always consult your vet about the best food and supplement options.

Create A Bathroom Schedule:

Scheduling your dog’s potty breaks will not only help you stick to your routine, but it will also give your dog a sense of structure as well. Try to time them around your dog’s feeding schedule; for instance, if they eat breakfast at 8 am, take them out to go potty around 8:30 or 9.  

Do Daily Mobility Training:

Investing in a wheelchair, drag bag, or special sling harness will help keep your dog mobile and active! A few minutes each day can help them stay fit, regain confidence, and feel independent. Check out this article to learn more about picking out the best wheelchair for your dog

Mental Stimulation:

Just like mobility training, daily mental stimulation is crucial for the overall happiness of your paralyzed dog. Puzzle toys, scented items, or sound-based toys can provide excellent entertainment. Regularly rotating toys can also keep things exciting for them.

Mid-day Check:

Especially during warmer months, it’s essential to check for overheating or any signs of distress. Ensure they’re comfortable, hydrated, and in a cool environment.

Evening Walk or Outdoor Time:

All dogs, even paralyzed ones, benefit from fresh air. Safely secure them in their prefered mobility device or use a sling for support and guide them around your garden or on a short walk. It provides sensory enrichment and maintains a semblance of their routine. If your dog can’t walk with the help from a wheelchair or other form of mobility assistance, they can still benefit from a ride around the block in a stroller or wagon!

Nightly Clean-up and Bedding Down:

Before bedtime, clean your dog and ensure they’re dry and comfortable. Use soft bedding that can prevent pressure sores. Memory foam mats or specialty beds can be great options.

Regular Health Check-ups:

Lastly, make sure to schedule regular visits to the vet. Routine assessments can catch potential issues early, ensuring your dog remains in the best possible health.

Bonus Tip – Physical Therapy:

Whether it’s passive range-of-motion exercises or water therapy, consistent physical therapy can be beneficial. It helps in maintaining muscle mass, improving circulation, and potentially aiding in partial recovery. Talk to your vet about doing physical therapy for your dog! 

This Guide is a Suggestion:

a large dog in a wheelchair with his tongue outRemember, this guide is merely a suggestion. Create your routine around a schedule that works best for you and your dog! 

Caring for your paralyzed dog will give you a bond that is incomparable to anything else. A bond that’s filled with mutual trust and unwavering love. After all, it’s not just about adding days to their life, but life to their days.

Thinking of adopting a special needs dog and want to learn more? Check out our blog on caring for a special needs dog

10 Unique Tips for Keeping Your Deaf or Blind Dog Safe

Keeping Your Deaf or Blind Dog Safe

Keeping your deaf or blind dog safe should be a primary concern. Given their unique condition, certain considerations are essential to create a secure environment for them. Check out our list of tips and tricks that you can try to help keep your pup out of harm’s way!

1. Keep Them on a Leash

Deaf or blind dogs should never be allowed off the leash in an unsecured area, as they cannot hear or see potential dangers around them, such as oncoming cars or aggressive animals.

2. Make Their Disability Known

It’s always beneficial to ensure that your dog is easily identifiable as deaf or blind. Investing in a tag, collar, or badge that clearly states their condition is advised. This tip is especially crucial if they ever get lost. Anyone who finds your dog will recognize their special needs and handle them appropriately.

3. Puppy-Proof Your Home Against Sharp Hazards

Since blind dogs can’t see, it’s essential to safeguard them against sharp corners to prevent injuries. For a comprehensive list of safety measures, check out our blog on dog-proofing your home.

4. Use Bright or Reflective Gear

When outside, especially in the evening, using reflective leashes, harnesses, and vests can alert others to your dog’s presence. This is especially vital if your dog cannot hear or see oncoming traffic.

5. Keep a First Aid Kit

Being prepared is key, whether facing a minor scratch or a sudden ailment. For deaf or blind dogs, understanding their injury might be more challenging, so having supplies on hand is vital. For more details on what to include in your dog first aid kit, check out our blog on dog first aid kits 101.

6. Use a Halo Harness

For blind dogs, a halo harness is a device that fits around their head, featuring a lightweight halo-shaped barrier. This device prevents them from bumping their head into walls or obstacles.

7. Get a Deaf or Blind Dog Sign for Your Street

A sign warning people of your dog’s condition could be lifesaving. Seeing such a sign will remind people to drive cautiously, particularly if your dog is outdoors.

8. Invest in a Vibration Collar for Deaf Dogs

A vibration collar is an effective way to communicate with deaf dogs. It offers a non-intrusive method to get their attention quickly. Additionally, in the dark, you can use a flashlight to catch their attention.

9. Train Your Dog According to Their Needs

Training is crucial as it helps dogs avoid trouble. For effective training, understanding how to communicate with your pet is essential. For a deaf dog, tap cues or sign language can be beneficial, while for a blind dog, simple and clear voice commands are effective. Explore our blogs on communicating with your deaf dog and understanding blind dogs for further insights!

10. Fence Your Pool or Pond

If you have a swimming pool, installing a net or gate around it can prevent your blind dog from accidentally falling in.

These Tips Can Save Their Life

a dog with one eye laying down Creating a safe environment for your deaf or blind dog may initially seem a little overwhelming. However, by implementing these strategies, you can guarantee that your canine companion enjoys life to its fullest, shielded from potential dangers.

Your Guide To Dog Safe Human Snacks

Human Snacks That Your Dog Can Eat

It’s tough to say no when your dog looks up at you with those big, pleading eyes, asking for a bite of your food. It feels natural to want to share with your best buddy, even if your food isn’t always the healthiest or safest for your furry friend. But don’t worry! There are plenty of human snacks that are not only safe but also provide essential nutrients for your canine companion. In this blog, we’ll explore a variety of human snacks that are both healthy and safe for your dog to enjoy with you!

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a popular and tasty treat for dogs, but not all varieties are safe. Always opt for natural peanut butter without added sugar, salt, or xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. A small spoonful of peanut butter makes for a delightful reward, perfect for stuffing into treat-dispensing toys or using during training sessions.


french bulldog eating an apple

Apples make a yummy and nutritious snack for dogs when given in moderation. They are packed with vitamins A and C, as well as fiber, while being low in fat. Your furry friend will enjoy the crunchiness and refreshing taste. Just remember to remove the seeds and core because apple seeds contain cyanide, which can be harmful if ingested in large quantities.

Want to combine snack time with playtime? Make a homemade Apple Kong! The name is pretty self-explanatory – remove the core and seeds of an apple then fill the inside with some peanut butter or any filling of your choice! Throw it in the freezer to make it a little more challenging for your dog to get the filling out. They will be busy for a while! Here’s a full recipe with pictures from Pretty Fluffy. 


Carrots can be served raw or cooked, sliced or grated, making them a versatile, satisfying, and healthy snack for your pup.


Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, blueberries are a wonderful snack for dogs. You can offer them fresh or frozen, providing a refreshing treat, especially on hot days.

Want to do something extra special for your dog on their birthday, or just because you love them? Try this recipe for dog-friendly blueberry muffins by Blue Jean Chef! These muffins are easy to make and safe for your fur baby to eat, as long as you give them in moderation!

Green Beans

Raw or cooked, green beans are a healthy and low-calorie snack for dogs. Ensure they are served without salt or other seasonings.

Cooked Chicken or Turkey

Lean, cooked chicken or turkey (without bones and seasoning) can be a tasty and protein-rich snack for your dog. You can use small, bite-sized pieces as a reward during training or simply as a special treat.

Happy Snacking!

a dog is licking his lips

While it’s important to avoid sharing some human snacks with your dog, there are plenty of safe and healthy options to treat your canine companion. These healthy human snacks can add variety to your dog’s diet while providing essential nutrients. As always, moderation is key, and if you’re ever unsure about a specific snack’s safety, consult with your veterinarian and/or check out this list of foods that can be poisonous to your dog by the Humane Society. You should also ensure that the foods that are unsafe for your dog are kept out of their reach. To read more on dog-proofing your kitchen, check out our blog on how to create a dog-friendly home

So, let snack time roll! Give your dog a few bites of one of these safe and healthy snacks and watch their eyes light up with joy.


Why You Should Consider Fostering a Dog

What Makes Fostering So Great?

In a world where countless dogs are in need of a forever home, fostering becomes a powerful way to make a difference. Fostering a dog is a selfless act that not only helps dogs but also brings joy and fulfillment to foster parents. We’ve compiled a list of reasons why fostering is such an amazing experience, so maybe, just maybe, you’ll be convinced to give it a try!

Fostering Saves Lives!

It’s true – fostering does save lives. The shelters and rescue groups in Orange County are so overwhelmed with abandoned and stray dogs. By fostering, you become a lifeline for a dog, providing them with the love and care they need. This kindness helps reduce the number of dogs put to sleep in shelters and gives them a chance to find a loving home. 

You’ll be Making a Difference

Fostering gives you the chance to change a dog’s life for the better. Whether they have been hurt or neglected, you can offer comfort and help them learn to trust humans again. Your love and patience can transform a scared dog into a happy and loving companion. But remember – it may take some time for your foster dog to get comfortable in their new environment. That’s why we recommend following the ‘3, 3, 3 rule’. If you want to learn more, check out our article on ‘the 3, 3, 3 rule’!  

You Can Test the Waters of Dog Ownership

Fostering is like a trial run for having a dog. If you’re unsure about owning a dog permanently, fostering lets you experience pet ownership for a short period of time. It’s especially great for those that are new to having a dog or unsure if it fits their lifestyle.

Fostering is Great for Socialization and Training Skills

Foster dogs may need extra socialization or training before they can be adopted. By fostering, you’ll help them become more adoptable and also develop your own training skills. This experience can be useful not only for future dog ownership but also in other areas of life too. 

You’ll Provide Companionship and Love to a Dog In Need

Dogs are known for their loyalty and unconditional love, and fostering will allow you to experience this firsthand. Your care will make a positive impact on the dog’s emotions, and they’ll give you joy, comfort, and companionship in return. The bond you form will be truly special. So special, in fact, that you might even end up being a foster fail! If you want to learn more about building a bond with your dog, check out our article on how to build a strong bond with your dog

You Can Enjoy a Sense of Community

Fostering connects you with others who care about animals’ well-being. You become part of a supportive community of foster parents and volunteers working together to help animals in need. This sense of belonging can be very fulfilling, and you’ll feel supported throughout your fostering journey.

Become a Foster!

Fostering a dog is a kind act that saves lives and brings happiness to both dogs and foster parents. Providing a safe and loving temporary home is a heartwarming journey that leaves a lasting impact. So, if you have room in your heart and home, consider fostering – the love and gratitude you’ll receive will be truly special.

If you are interested in fostering a dog, reach out to us and sign up for our foster program here

Making the Golden Years Golden: Nutrition Tips for Senior Dogs

Understanding the Golden Years

As pet parents, we want nothing but the best for our furry friends, and we wish for them to stay healthy and lively for as long as possible. But aging is inevitable, and as our canine companions enter their golden years, they will experience various physiological changes. These changes can include decreased activity levels, potential weight gain, and the onset of potential chronic health issues. It’s up to us as dog parents to adapt to these changes so we can ensure their health remains golden, and one vital way of doing that is adjusting their diet. Read on to learn about our nutrition tips for senior dogs! 

Adjust Caloric Intake

senior dog looking at bowl of kibble

With age, your senior dog’s metabolism will slow down, and they will become less active, leading to weight gain. This weight gain can exacerbate health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore, managing their caloric intake is crucial. To adjust your senior dog’s caloric intake, you can look into lower calorie foods, foods that are designed for senior dogs (like this list of the best senior dog foods), or adjust your dog’s portion size. Seek guidance from your veterinarian to determine the correct amount of calories your senior dog should consume daily.

Prioritize High-Quality Protein

Protein remains a vital nutrient for dogs, even as they age. It’s critical for maintaining muscle mass and supporting the immune system. Ensure that your dog’s diet includes high-quality protein sources like chicken, turkey, fish, or lean beef. Some older dogs may require more protein than younger ones, particularly if they have certain health conditions, so consult your vet about the ideal protein intake.

Incorporate Fiber

A common issue among senior dogs is constipation. Increasing the fiber content in your dog’s diet can help alleviate this problem. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and aids in regular bowel movements. Vegetables, whole grains, and specially formulated senior dog foods can be good sources of fiber.

Don’t Forget the Fats

Healthy fats are an essential part of a dog’s diet, providing energy and helping in nutrient absorption. However, it’s important to note that not all fats are created equal. Look for foods with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as fish and flaxseed oils. These help maintain healthy skin, shiny coats, and support brain health.

Hydration is Key

Ensure your senior dog has constant access to fresh, clean water. As dogs age, their ability to conserve water may decrease, making them more prone to dehydration. Wet food can also be a great way to increase water intake, especially for dogs that don’t drink enough on their own.


Supplements can be a beneficial addition to your senior dog’s diet. In fact, according to this article by VCA Hospitals, supplements may even make it possible to “slow the progression of degeneration,” or in other words, slow the aging process. Before making any changes, consult with your vet to find out which, if any, supplements would benefit your senior dog. And remember, while supplements can significantly enhance your senior dog’s diet, they should never act as substitutes for a balanced diet.

Regular Vet Check-ups

Regular vet check-ups are essential. Your vet can monitor your dog’s weight, dental health, and overall condition. They can also provide dietary recommendations based on your dog’s unique needs. Your vet can provide the most accurate advice, so consult with them before making any dietary changes for your senior dog.

Enjoy the Golden Years

senior dog sitting on grass

Whether your senior dog has been your loyal companion for many years, or you just adopted them into your home, it’s up to you to guide them through their golden years. By adapting their diet to meet their senior dog nutrition needs, you can help ensure these years are truly golden, filled with good health, happiness, and a passion for life.

Thinking about adopting a senior dog? Check out our article on “The Benefits of Adopting a Senior Dog.

How to Communicate with Your Deaf Dog

Deafness in Dogs

Dogs may lose their hearing in either one or both ears due to a variety of factors, such as genetics, old age, infections, or loud noise exposure. It’s easy to assume that a deaf dog won’t have as fulfilling of a life as a dog that can hear, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if they can’t hear, deaf dogs still live very happy lives! They just have to rely on their other senses – like sight and smell – to navigate their world. 

Now, you might be wondering if it’s tricky to communicate with a deaf dog. While the methods may be different from how we communicate with hearing dogs, it’s quite straightforward once you get the hang of it. So, let’s dive into how you can establish effective communication with your deaf furry friend! 

How to Communicate and Train Your Deaf Dog

woman giving hand signals to her dog

There are many ways you can communicate with your deaf dog without relying on sound. Adopting these methods will not only help you build a bond with your dog, but help you train them as well! Below are just a few of the many ways to communicate with your deaf dog:

  • Hand Signals: Hand signals are an excellent communication method with your deaf dog. You’re likely familiar with some – like raising your hand to signal “stay,” or lowering it to suggest “lie down.” Feel free to create your own signals, but remember to be consistent. 
  • Vibrations: Dogs can feel vibrations very well, so using something like a vibration collar (not to be confused with a shock collar) to train your deaf dog has been proven to be very effective. These collars can help you do something as simple as getting your dog’s attention, or even help you teach your dog to associate different types of vibrations with different commands! Here is a list of the 10 Best Vibration Collars for Deaf Dogs!  
  • Touch: Touch is another good way to build your bond and communicate with your deaf dog. A good belly rub or scratch behind the ear is an easy way to show them some love! You can also use touch to train your dog! A gentle tap on the base of their tail can mean “sit”, while a double tap on their shoulder can mean “stay”. Always make sure your touch is kind and comforting! 

Be Patient and Consistent

woman holding up a treat to her deaf dog

Training your deaf dog requires patience, understanding, and consistency. Use the same signals for each command and reward your pet with positive reinforcements like treats or a loving pat.

You should also make sure to keep training sessions short, fun, and engaging by incorporating a variety of activities. This will keep your dog’s interest and also help create a stronger bond between the two of you. Training isn’t just about teaching commands, it’s also about building trust with your dog! 

It’s a Rewarding Experience

a woman hugging her dog

Living with and caring for a deaf dog can be a wonderfully rewarding experience. Yes, it may come with its unique set of challenges, but the bond that forms through overcoming these obstacles can be remarkably strong.

Deaf dogs can lead happy and fulfilling lives just as any other dog. Being deaf doesn’t make them any less capable of forming loving bonds with their owners. With a little more effort and understanding, you can cultivate a relationship with your deaf dog that is truly special. Remember, love doesn’t need sound to be felt!

For more information on caring for your deaf dog – or any kind of special needs dog – check out our blog post: “Caring for a Special Needs Dog.” 

Understanding Blind Dogs

Blindness in Dogs

Dogs come in an incredible variety of shapes, sizes, and dispositions, making each one unique. But there are some dogs who are extra special, like the ones that are blind. A lack of sight might seem tough to us, but to blind dogs, it’s no big deal! Keep reading to learn more about blind dogs, and how their blindness doesn’t stop them from living a full and exciting life!

The Causes and Progression of Canine Blindness

a dog with oversized glasses

Blindness in dogs can be caused by numerous factors, including genetic conditions, accidents, illness or diseases such as diabetes or glaucoma, and old age. While it can happen to any dog, some dog breeds are more predisposed to hereditary conditions that can cause blindness, such as Labrador Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Poodles, and Great Danes. 

Typically, blindness doesn’t just occur overnight (unless caused by an accident or sudden severe illness). It’s typically a gradual process, with their vision deteriorating over time. Luckily, this gradual decline allows dogs to slowly adapt to their changing senses, making use of their heightened smell and hearing to compensate.

Adapting to Their World

albino dog

Dogs, in general, rely more on their senses of smell and hearing than they do on sight. According to Phoenix Veterinary Center, dogs “possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us.” For blind dogs, these senses become their primary means of interpreting the world.

Contrary to what one might think, blind dogs can live quite comfortably and joyfully using these enhanced senses. They can still participate in regular dog activities such as playing fetch, going for walks, and even agility courses with proper training and encouragement.

One of the most critical aspects of helping a blind dog adapt is consistency. Keeping furniture and their food/water bowls in the same place can be a huge help. This allows them to map out their surroundings and reduces the risk of injuries from bumping into objects.

Training and Caring for Blind Dogs

Lara, a dog without eyes, laying on the couchTraining a blind dog might require more patience and creativity, but it’s 100% doable! Using verbal cues and touch signals can be a great way to communicate with them. Reward-based training, like using treats and praises, is always the most effective. 

Technology has also come to aid. Innovations like ‘halo harnesses’ protect blind dogs from bumping into objects, while sensory toys using sound and smell help keep them engaged and stimulated. If you think your dog would benefit from a halo harness, check out this link: Halo Harness on

There are also scented stickers that you can place around the house, like before the stairs or at the front door. These help your dog figure out where they are and help prevent them from bumping into anything.  

The Emotional Side

Blind dogs, despite their lack of sight, can lead happy and fulfilled lives. Their ability to love, connect, and enjoy life remains untouched by their physical condition. As pet parents, it’s crucial that we don’t project our feelings of sadness or pity on them. They don’t know they are any different from other dogs, and with your love and care, they won’t feel different either!

Treat Them Like Any Other Dog

dog with one eye

At the end of the day, blind dogs, like any other dogs, need love, care, and understanding from their human companions. If you’re considering adopting a blind dog, or if your dog is losing its sight, know that while the journey might look a little different, the rewards are immense. The resilience, trust, and undying affection that blind dogs exhibit can be an incredible lesson in courage and positivity.

Remember, it’s not the blindness that defines them, but their heart, spirit, and zest for life. Caring for a blind dog can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life, opening your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world, sans sight. 

If you want to learn more about blind dogs or special needs dogs, check out our article on caring for a special needs dog!


The Benefits of Adopting a Special Needs Dog for Kids

What Will a Special Needs Dog Teach Children and Families?

We all agree that dogs make the most amazing pets ever, right? Big or small, young or old, they always know how to put a smile on our faces and provide us with the kind of loyalty that you just can’t find anywhere else. However, there’s a certain group of dogs that often gets overlooked when you think of the perfect companion, and that group consists of special needs dogs. 

These dogs might be deaf, blind, physically/mentally disabled, or require lifelong medical care due to a chronic condition. Whatever the circumstance, we want to show people that special needs dogs make the “pawfect” pets, particularly for kids and families. Let’s dive into all the amazing benefits that adopting a special needs dog will have for your little one(s) at home! 

Teaching Compassion and Responsibility

The first, and possibly most impactful, benefit of adopting a specially-abled dog is the lessons it imparts on children in the family. Caring for them teaches empathy, kindness, compassion, and more. These are essential life skills that children can carry with them into adulthood. It also fosters a sense of responsibility. Looking after a pet that requires a little extra attention and care encourages children to step up, nurturing a strong sense of duty and dedication. 

Promoting Understanding and Acceptance

dog with 3 legs

Adopting a dog with special needs provides a unique opportunity to discuss topics such as disability and acceptance with your children. It also helps kids understand that while some people and animals may look or act differently due to circumstances beyond their control, they still deserve love, respect, and a good life. This instills in children the value of understanding others and accepting their differences, shaping them into more compassionate individuals. 

It can also teach children how to be more gentle and caring towards all of the beautiful creatures on our planet – not just dogs!

Creating a Supportive Environment

Specially-abled dogs can provide emotional support and therapeutic benefits for the entire family, but especially for children. Their unwavering loyalty and love, as well as their tenacity in the face of adversity, can be an invaluable source of comfort. In fact, many of these dogs are used as therapy dogs due to their calming presence and ability to help people cope with anxiety and stress. If you want to learn more about how therapy dogs can help children, check out this article titled “Why Dogs Can Be So Healing for Kids” by The New York Times. 

Developing Patience, Perseverance, and Positivity

Patience, perseverance, and positivity are three significant life lessons that come with adopting a special needs dog. Caring for them often requires extra time and effort. It’s not always easy, but the joy and love that these dogs give in return are worth every challenge. This experience teaches children and adults alike that rewarding outcomes often require patience and persistent effort. It will also show them what true positivity looks like. These dogs don’t know they are different, and they don’t act like it either! They start everyday with a smile on their face, ready to face the world!  

Adopt A Special Needs Dog!

blind dog

Adopting a specially-abled dog is a rewarding journey that can benefit the entire family. These unique fluff balls offer love, companionship, and countless opportunities for learning and growth. They might need a bit more care and patience, but the love they return is endless. By opening our homes and hearts to these special companions, we enrich not only their lives but ours as well! 

If you are interested in adopting a special needs dog and want to learn more about the care involved, check out our article on caring for special needs dogs!


Building Your Bond with Your Dog

Five Simple Steps to Build Your Bond with Your Dog

Adopting a dog opens the door to a world of love and joy. But how do you ensure you’re not just a pet owner, but a lifelong friend to your dog? How do you build a relationship of trust, understanding, and care with your furry companion? Let’s explore five simple steps that can help you build a strong and meaningful bond with your dog.

1. Understanding Their Language

dog laying on its back

Dogs express themselves through a unique language comprised of body language, sounds, and behaviors. Their body posture, for instance, can indicate emotions ranging from happiness to anxiety. Is their tail wagging enthusiastically or tucked between their legs in fear? Take note of their ears and the expression in their eyes as well. They can also provide vital clues about their current mood.

You’ll also want to pay attention to the sounds they make. Barks, whines, growls, and even sighs all convey different messages. A high-pitched bark may invite you to play, while a low growl could be a sign of discomfort. 

Their behaviors too, from bringing you their favorite toy to pacing around restlessly, give insight into their state of mind. This might signal anything from playful anticipation to nervousness. This deeper understanding of their cues enables a level of communication that goes beyond words, enriching the connection between you and your canine companion.

And remember, if your dog is showing signs of severe distress, they may need medical attention! Check out our article on pet first aid to learn more.

2. Quality Time

dog watching tv with owner

Spending quality time together is one of the most effective ways to deepen your relationship with your four-legged friend. This quality time can take many forms, each tailored to your dog’s preferences and your lifestyle. Some examples of quality time include daily walks, play time with a fun toy, and snuggling on the couch together. 

The aim of all these activities is to create “pawsitive” experiences and memories. It’s about carving out special moments in your daily routines to show your pet they’re cherished. This focused time together will form a bond between you and your dog unlike any other.

3. Physical Affection

dog and owner hugging

Physical affection is an essential part of bonding with your dog. Regularly petting your dog, giving belly rubs, scratching their ears, and brushing them can make your dog feel loved and safe. Each of these actions expresses care in a way that your dog can easily understand and appreciate.

However, it’s important to respect your dog’s boundaries and only offer physical affection when they are comfortable with it! Some dogs may love to be touched, while others might prefer less physical contact. It’s crucial to respect their individual preferences and offer physical affection only when your dog wants it!

4. Training

dog getting a treat

Training your dog not only ensures that your dog is well-mannered and responsive, but also helps you build an invaluable bond based on understanding, respect, and mutual trust. When you’re consistent with your commands, your dog begins to understand what is expected of them. This level of predictability fosters a sense of security, strengthening their trust in you as their caregiver.

Incorporating positive reinforcement into your training can strengthen your relationship as well. When you reward good behavior with treats or praise, your dog will associate positive feelings with obeying commands, which then increases their eagerness to please. Positive reinforcement also communicates to your dog that you recognize their efforts, which gives them a sense of pride and achievement. Remember, the time you invest in training is time spent strengthening your companionship with your four-legged friend.

Want some extra tips on how to train your dog? Check out this article titled “Dog Training 101: Basic Obedience Training at Home” on!

5. Respect Their Individuality

happy dog

Just like humans, each dog has its own unique personality and preferences. This individuality, expressed through their behavior, energy levels, and specific likes or dislikes, makes your relationship with them special.

For instance, some dogs are brimming with energy and are always ready to play. They thrive on physical activities such as fetch, tug-of-war, or long runs. On the other hand, some dogs are more laid-back and calm, preferring a quiet cuddle on the couch with their favorite human to an intense play session in the park. 

By tuning into their unique personality and adapting to their specific needs and preferences, you communicate a powerful message to your dog: you value them for who they are. This will not only build a strong foundation of trust and mutual respect, but will also encourage a sense of security in your dog, affirming that they are loved and accepted unconditionally! 

Building a Bond is a Journey!

dog with owner

Building a strong bond with your dog is a continuous journey, and it will grow stronger every single day. It’s about understanding, respect, consistency, and love. Celebrate their uniqueness and create a relationship that is built on trust and mutual respect! It’ll be one of the most fulfilling aspects of owning a dog! We promise! 







Everything You Need to Know About IVDD

Everything You Need to Know About Intervertebral Disc Disease

Whether you’re a new dog owner or a seasoned pet parent, understanding the health challenges that your furry friend may face is crucial. One health concern in particular, Intervertebral Disc Disease, often gets overlooked. This spinal condition can lead to serious complications if not treated properly. That’s why it’s important that you learn what it is, how to spot the signs, and what treatment options are available.

We wrote a guide that breaks down everything you need to know about Intervertebral Disc Disease, and tells you how to navigate this health issue effectively so your pup can live their best life!

What is IVDD?

Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD, is a condition that impacts the cushion-like discs located between the bones in a dog’s spine. These discs usually act as shock absorbers, but in IVDD, they go through changes that can lead to severe pain, nerve damage, and in extreme cases, paralysis.

IVDD presents itself in two different forms, each with its own unique characteristics. Type I IVDD is characterized by a hardening of the spinal discs, which become fragile and may burst. This transition, according to ASPCA, “can happen over a period of weeks or in a moment. So a dog that appears healthy and happy one minute can suddenly present odd symptoms and signs of pain.” This form of the disease is most often observed in smaller breeds with longer bodies.

Type II IVDD is typically seen in older, larger dogs. Rather than a sudden rupture, this form involves a slow deterioration of the disc over time. It gradually protrudes, causing symptoms that emerge subtly and progressively, making it harder to detect in the early stages.

Signs of IVDD

IVDD can be hard to notice because the signs of IVDD will look different for every dog. Symptoms present themselves based on where the problem is in the spine, as well as how severe it is. These symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Not wanting to jump or climb stairs
  • Loss of balance
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Swaying while walking
  • Arching the back or neck
  • Paralysis

If your dog is showing other kinds of symptoms, something else may be wrong. Contact your vet and check out our article on pet first aid 101 to learn more about what you can do to treat your dog from home.

Diagnosing IVDD

If your dog shows any of the symptoms listed above, it’s crucial to visit the vet. The vet will examine your dog thoroughly, and if they suspect IVDD, they’ll use tools like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to confirm it and find out exactly where the problem disc is.

Treatment Options

IVDD is treated in two ways: non-surgical treatment and surgical treatment. The non-surgical treatment includes rest, medicine, physical therapy, and acupuncture to manage pain and reduce swelling. It’s usually used for dogs with less severe symptoms or those with Type II IVDD. If the disease is advanced, then surgery may be necessary to remove the damaged disc and relieve the pressure on the spinal cord.

Which Breeds Are Prone to IVDD?

dachshund at vet

Although any dog can develop IVDD, certain breeds are more predisposed due to their genetic makeup and physical characteristics. Knowing whether your pet belongs to one of these breeds can help you be more vigilant and proactive in managing their health.

  • Dachshunds: According to Purina, “IVDD affects 19 to 24 percent of Dachshunds, more than any other breed.”
  • Beagles and Corgis: These breeds have long backs and short legs, making them prone to IVDD.
  • Shih Tzus: These small dogs can have genetic predispositions to IVDD
  • Basset Hounds: Their unusually heavy build and short legs put additional pressure on their spine, which can make them more prone to IVDD.
  • French Bulldogs: This breed often experiences a range of health issues, including a higher risk of IVDD.
  • Pekingese and Poodles: These breeds are among the smaller dogs that are more likely to develop IVDD.
  • German Shepherds, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers: These are some of the large breeds that are prone to IVDD. Although the condition is more common when they are older, it can happen at any age.

Prevention and Management

While genetic predisposition can’t be controlled, there are some measures you can take to help prevent IVDD or manage its effects:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Dogs that are overweight are more likely to get IVDD. Make sure your dog eats a balanced diet and gets regular exercise.
  • Avoid Strenuous Activities: It’s important to avoid activities that can strain the spine, like jumping off high places or engaging in rough play.
  • Regular Vet Visits: Regular check-ups can help spot early signs of IVDD, enabling you to start treatment ASAP.
  • Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation: Physical therapy can help manage pain, regain movement, and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Don’t Worry

Having IVDD doesn’t mean your dog can’t continue to live a fulfilling, joyful life. With the appropriate care and a lifestyle that caters to their specific needs, dogs with IVDD can truly thrive! They are remarkably resilient creatures, after all, and they are capable of bouncing back from anything!

The 3, 3, 3 Rule

Understanding the ‘3, 3, 3’ Rule

Adopting or fostering a dog is an enriching journey filled with excitement, new beginnings, and love… but it isn’t always a “walk in the park”. Put yourself in your new furry friend’s paws for a moment: they’ve likely just left a scary shelter or a temporary foster home, only to face yet another transition to your house. These frequent changes can be quite unnerving for our adorable little four-legged friends! Consequently, it’s going to take some time for them to gradually acclimate to their new surroundings and truly begin to feel at home. 

This is why the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule comes in handy. It’s intended to help guide new pet parents through the transitory stages of adoption/fostering so they know what to expect and can be better equipped to help their dog during these critical adjustment stages. Now, you’re probably wondering; what exactly is the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule? Let’s break it down! 

The First 3 Days: The Decompression Phase

dog hiding under the sofa

The first 3 days after you’ve brought your dog to its new home are typically filled with a mix of curiosity, excitement, and more often than not, anxiety. Imagine being in an entirely foreign environment, filled with new smells, sights, and people. Overwhelming, right? 

Your newly adopted dog might behave unexpectedly or even uncharacteristically during this period. They might be unusually quiet, hide often, or not eat much. Don’t worry – they are simply adjusting and testing their boundaries in their new home. Patience, love, and understanding are key during these first few days. Establish a comfortable space for them, stick to a routine for feeding and walks, and allow them to explore their new surroundings at their own pace.

The First 3 Weeks: Learning Your Routine

dog chewing on pillow stuffing

The next milestone is the 3-week mark. By this time, your dog has started to settle in and probably feels a lot more comfortable. However, as they become more confident and secure in their environment, they might experience a few behavioral changes, such as chewing on your furniture or barking more than usual. This is when you can establish some rules and begin gentle training using positive reinforcement.

Remember, consistency and patience are crucial! It’s a learning process for both of you, and it takes time to understand each other.

The First 3 Months: Starting to Feel Like Home

dog laying on bed

Reaching the 3-month milestone often signifies that your dog has fully settled into their new home. They’ve become accustomed to your routines, your family, and their new surroundings. This is when you’ll likely see their true personality shine!

You will also start to experience the joys of adopting or fostering a dog. You’ve developed a deep bond with your furry friend, and you now get to enjoy their unique quirks, their silliness, and their unwavering love. 

“The 3 month mark was when Molly finally got excited to see me when I came home after work!” said Jami, who adopted a 13 year old dog named Molly. “Before that, she was pretty indifferent towards me. But now we’re inseparable”

This is Just a Guideline

Understanding the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule can provide a lot of clarity on what to expect when you welcome a new dog into your home, but despite its potential to be extremely helpful, you must remember that it is not a hard and fast rule. Each dog is unique, and their adjustment periods can vary after all! If you want to read about how you can encourage your rescue dog to warm up to you, check out this article by The Dodo: How to Help Your Scared Rescue Dog Warm Up. 

Adopting a dog is not just about bringing a pet home, it’s about welcoming a new family member. And as with any family member, it takes time, effort, and love to understand them and build a lasting relationship. So, remember the ‘3, 3, 3’ rule, take a deep breath, and have fun as you em”bark” on this beautiful journey of companionship and unconditional love!

If you are interested in bringing a new dog into your home, check out our article on why you should consider fostering a dog!


333 Rule

Choosing the Perfect Rescue Pet

How to Choose the Perfect Rescue Pet: A Guide by Unconditional Rescue

Adopting a dog is a huge decision, and there are so many factors that go into picking out the “pawfect” pup for you! Read on to learn about everything you should consider while on the hunt for your new four-legged companion! 


a big dog and small dogA dog’s size can significantly impact its suitability for your current living situation, your budget, and your physical ability. For example, larger dogs tend to require more space to move around comfortably, making them less suitable for small apartments. They also often need more exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. Having a backyard for them to play in will come in handy if you adopt a big dog. 

Smaller dogs generally adapt better to smaller living spaces and often require less physical exercise. This makes them an ideal choice for apartment living or a more sedentary lifestyle. Keep in mind, though, that small size doesn’t necessarily equate to lower energy. Some small breeds are very active and need to be walked/exercised every day!


hyper dog rolling around

Some dogs are much more active and energetic than others, so they require more physical exercise and mental stimulation. This means several hours of activity every single day (running, playing, etc). If you are very active, then a high-energy dog may be perfect for you! 

Low-energy dogs are more content with short walks, laid-back activities, and lots of time on the couch. They make a better fit for the less active individuals out there, or those with a busy lifestyle that don’t have the time or capacity for long exercise sessions. 

Remember, regardless of the breed, each dog will require some level of exercise for their physical health and happiness. That’s why aligning their energy needs with your lifestyle will make for a harmonious pet/owner relationship.


shy dog covering its face

The temperament of a dog can significantly impact whether they are a good fit for you and your family. Some dogs are naturally more sociable towards people and other animals, while others may be more reserved and prefer being left alone. Breeds known for their friendliness might be the better choice for families, while the more independent breeds may be more suitable for those seeking a companion for themselves only. 

However, while certain temperament traits are more common in specific breeds, there’s always a degree of individual variation. Sometimes it takes a while for a dog to truly relax and open up around their new owners, so don’t let a seemingly shy dog deter you from adopting it! They might just need a little extra time, patience, and TLC before they let their true personalities shine! 


a dog getting groomed

Every breed has its own specific grooming needs. Some dogs have coats that require regular professional grooming. This can be expensive and time consuming. Other dogs have short coats that require minimal grooming – just the occasional bath and a good brushing once a week. Dogs can also be somewhere in the middle. 

You need to think about how much time, effort, and money you’re willing and able to spend on hygiene maintenance when deciding what kind of dog to adopt. 


a dog at the vet

When choosing the perfect rescue pet, you should consider their health as well. Certain dog breeds are prone to specific health issues. For instance, large breeds often struggle with joint issues like hip dysplasia, while small breeds may be prone to dental problems and heart conditions. And let’s not forget about the brachycephalic breeds out there (those with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs), who can have respiratory issues due to their physical structure.

All of these health issues can require significant financial resources to manage, and can also be emotionally straining for you! Researching the common health issues for the dog you are considering adopting will help you understand what kind of care they might need, and whether or not you can provide it for them! 

A common health issue that often gets overlooked is Intervertebral Disk Disease. Check out this blog to learn more about IVDD.


a police dog

If you’re getting a dog for a specific purpose (hunting, guarding, providing emotional support, etc.), you’ll want to get a dog who naturally has the right tendencies for the job.

For example, hunting dogs should have a high prey drive, while guard dogs need to be more independent and less trusting. German Shepherds were bred to protect, while Border Collies were bred to run and herd sheep, so you can’t expect them to be lazy cuddle bugs. 

Go Mixed

a mutt

Choosing a mixed breed has a lot of advantages. Mixed breeds are often healthier because they come from a wider gene pool, which reduces their chance of having any breed-specific diseases. They are also more unique in looks, skills, and personality, which gives them more of a charm compared to purebreds. 

The best part about adopting a mixed breed is that there are plenty of them at the shelter who are waiting for a loving home! When you choose a mixed breed, you’re not only getting a potentially healthier pet – you are also giving a shelter dog a home. 

Don’t Overthink It

different dog breeds playing together

Remember that choosing the perfect rescue pet is a process, and every dog is an individual and can vary greatly from the breed standard. Spending time with a dog before adoption can help ensure that they are a good fit for you! You might find that the perfect dog for you isn’t a specific breed, but the one who wags their tail the hardest when you walk by their kennel.

Supporting Unconditional Rescue

Get Involved and Make a Difference

If you have a special love for animals and feel inspired by the endeavors of Unconditional Rescue, there are numerous ways you can contribute to our cause. By volunteering, donating, fostering, and spreading awareness, you can make a significant difference in the lives of these deserving dogs. Discover the various ways to get involved and help these sweet canines find their forever homes.

Our Mission

Unconditional Rescue is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs in need. Our mission is to provide a safe haven for senior and special needs dogs, offering them a second chance at a loving home. We firmly believe in showing compassion and care, and ensuring that every animal has the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life!

Volunteer: Make a Difference by Volunteering

volunteer photo

Volunteering is one of the most valuable ways to contribute to our cause. Whether you have a few spare hours each week or can commit to a more extended period, your presence and support can create a significant impact. As a volunteer, you can assist with training, playing, and caring for the dogs. Additionally, you can contribute by writing bios for our furry friends, coordinating events, and capturing professional photos for our website. By spending time with these dogs, you help them develop trust, increase their chances of adoption, and improve their overall well-being.

Although we are not currently accepting new volunteers, we encourage you to find out more and add yourself to our volunteer list by visiting our website’s “How To Help” page. With our new facility under construction, we will soon need plenty of volunteers!

Foster: Provide a Loving Environment for Dogs in Transition

foster and senior dog

Foster care plays a vital role in our organization, offering a rewarding experience for foster parents. By becoming a foster parent, you provide a safe and nurturing environment for dogs in transition. You also help them heal, regain trust, and receive the love they need while waiting for their forever homes. Even if you haven’t fostered before, worry not! We provide support and guidance, and cover all necessary expenses during the foster period. Who knows, you might even become a foster fail (meaning you adopt your foster dog), which is always a positive outcome!

Donate: Make a “Pawsitive” Impact through Financial Contributions

If you’re unable to volunteer or foster a pup, donating to Unconditional Rescue is an excellent alternative to support our cause. Your financial contributions enable us to provide essential time, medical care, food, shelter, and necessary supplies for the rescued dogs. Every donation, regardless of size, helps us continue our vital work and save more lives. You can choose to make a one-time donation or set up a monthly contribution to provide ongoing support. Visit the “Donate” tab on the “How To Help” page on our website to learn more and make a donation!

Share: Spread Awareness and Inspire Others

You can also contribute to Unconditional Rescue by raising awareness about our mission and the importance of animal welfare. Engage with your network, utilize social media platforms/personal blogs/community events to share our success stories, upcoming adoption events, and the different ways to get involved. By amplifying our message, you inspire others to join our cause and make a difference in the lives of these dogs, ultimately helping them find loving homes.

Events: Join Us for Fun and Meaningful Events

adoption event

Another fantastic way to give back to Unconditional Rescue is by attending our events. From dog parties and adoption fairs to charity events, there’s always something exciting happening. Check out our Programs and Events page to stay updated on upcoming events!

One of our biggest events, Chef Masters, is just around the corner! Chef Masters is a culinary experience where the best chefs and wineries of Orange County come together to benefit Unconditional Rescue. This event offers gourmet food, wine tastings, dancing, mingling, and more. Mark your calendars for September 24th, 2023, in Laguna Beach. To learn more and get involved, visit the Chef Masters Website. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience!

Adopt: Change a Dog’s Life Forever

dog with an "adopt me!" sign

If you want to make a big and impactful contribution to Unconditional Rescue, consider adopting a dog. By providing a forever home, you can offer a deserving animal the love, care, and security they deserve. Our adoption process ensures a well-suited match between the dog and the adopter. This will result in a lifelong companionship built on trust and happiness. Check out the list of our adoptable dogs on our website!

Unconditional Rescue relies on the support of compassionate individuals like you to fulfill our mission of rescuing and rehabilitating animals in need. Whether you volunteer, donate, foster, advocate, or adopt, your contribution will have a lasting impact on the lives of these incredible dogs. Together, let’s create a world where every animal is treated with kindness, respect, and unconditional love. Join us today and be a part of something truly special!

Expert Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool and Safe in the Summer

How to Keep Your Dog Cool and Safe in the Summer

As summer arrives, it’s important to take extra measures to keep your beloved four-legged companion cool and comfortable. While dogs have natural ways to manage temperature changes, they can still be vulnerable to the summer heat. In this article, we’ll provide expert tips on how to ensure your dog stays cool, safe, and happy all summer long.


Dog drinking water

During the sweltering summer months, it’s crucial to keep your dog properly hydrated. Always provide fresh, clean water for them, and consider adding a few ice cubes to their bowl to make it more refreshing. Trust us, they will love it!

If you’re planning outdoor activities, invest in a travel water bowl to ensure your dog can drink on the go. Dehydration in dogs can lead to serious health issues, so watch out for signs like excessive panting, dry gums, or lethargy. Call your vet if you think your dog is suffering from severe dehydration.

Protecting Paw Pads

Hot pavement can burn your dog’s paw pads, just like it would hurt your bare feet. Before walking your dog, test the pavement by placing your hand or bare foot on it for ten seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them. You can also schedule walks during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, and opt for grassy areas whenever possible to prevent burns on their paws.

Creating a Cool Environment

Providing a cool environment for your dog is essential for their well-being. During peak heat hours (10 am to 3 pm), bring your dog indoors and keep your house cool by running the air conditioning and lowering the window shades. If your dog prefers to spend time outside, regardless of the temp, ensure they have access to shade and a constant supply of fresh water. You can even consider getting a doggy pool for them to splash around and cool off!

Grooming Tips

Dog bathing

Contrary to popular belief, dog fur helps protect them from both hot and cold weather. Unless advised by a vet, avoid shaving your dog in the summertime. Instead, regularly brush their coat to remove excess fur and prevent matting. However, some breeds may still benefit from a summer trim, so consult a professional groomer or your vet before making any decisions.

Some breeds may even benefit from putting a little sunblock on their coats before going outside. Talk to you vet to find out if your dog needs a little extra sun protection!

Adjusting Exercise Routine

Golden Retriever jumping in pool

While exercise is important for your dog’s overall health, adapt your routine to the summer heat. Plan walks and play sessions for cooler times of the day and always carry water for both you and your dog. Avoid intense outdoor physical activities during peak heat hours, and choose to engage in indoor games like tug-of-war instead.

You can also consider using a cooling vest for longer outdoor sessions, or adding swimming to the agenda! Swimming can be an excellent exercise option, but ensure your dog’s safety by using a doggy life jacket if needed.

Recognizing Heatstroke Symptoms

Heatstroke is a severe condition that can be fatal to dogs. Learn to recognize the signs, including excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, and collapse. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, seek immediate veterinary care. Brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs and pugs are at higher risk, but heatstroke can affect any dog. If your dog appears overheated but not in immediate danger, cool them down by dipping their paws in cold water and offering ice water to drink. Avoid pouring water on their fur when they are outside as it can make them feel hotter due to the sun.

Managing Humidity

Humidity plays a significant role in how your dog experiences the heat. Dogs cool themselves through panting, but high humidity limits their ability to cool down effectively. Provide your dog with a cool, air-conditioned space where they can seek relief on humid days.

Never Leave Your Dog in the Car

Graph on Vehicle Temperature

Leaving your dog in a car, even with cracked windows, can quickly become life-threatening. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise rapidly, endangering your pet’s life. Not to mention, it is illegal to do so in California. Take a look at this graph to see just how hot it can get inside your car. And remember, this is just a general guide – other factors can make your car even hotter!

If you can’t take your dog with you when you leave the car, it’s best to leave them at home in a safe and cool environment.

Have a Fun Summer

dog laying out with sunglasses on

By following these expert tips, you can ensure that your furry friend stays cool, comfortable, and safe throughout the summer. Remember, your dog relies on you for their well-being, so take the necessary precautions to keep them healthy and happy during the warm weather. With a little preparation, you can enjoy a worry-free summer filled with joyous moments with your canine companion.


Pet First Aid 101

Unconditional Rescue’s Guide to Keeping Your Furry Friend Safe

Understanding pet first aid is a crucial skill for every pet owner. By equipping yourself with the knowledge of first aid procedures, you become a proactive caregiver, ensuring your furry friend’s well-being during unexpected health situations. In this guide, Unconditional Rescue provides essential tips and advice to help you become the first line of defense for your beloved canine companion.

Prioritize Preventive Care

Regular veterinary check-ups are key to maintaining your dog’s health. These appointments allow early detection of any signs of illness and prevent further complications. Speak to your vet about recommended tests and vaccinations during these visits to keep your dog in optimal health.

Learn Basic First Aid

Knowing how to handle common dog injuries and illnesses can be lifesaving. Learn procedures such as CPR and proper wound care. You can watch this informative video demonstrating CPR for dogs in emergencies.

Have a First Aid Kit with the Essential Supplies

Prepare a pet first aid kit containing important items like gauze, “Vet Tape”, scissors, a muzzle, and a digital thermometer. Include essential products like Vetericyn for wound care and hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (but only when directed by a vet or poison control). Consult your vet for other specific recommendations, and remember to never administer any medication without professional guidance!

Poison Control

Be aware of household items and foods that are toxic to dogs. Familiarize yourself with common poisonous substances and have the number for a pet poison control center or the U.S. poison control hotline (800-222-1222) readily available. Act promptly if you suspect your dog has ingested something harmful. Check out this complete list of potentially dangerous items for your dog.

Know Your Dog’s “Normal”

Monitoring your dog’s behavior and habits is crucial. Pay attention to small changes in eating habits, energy levels, personality, or bathroom habits, as they may indicate underlying health issues. Trust your instincts as you are your dog’s advocate.

Maintain a Safe Environment

Create a safe environment by pet-proofing your home. Secure loose wires, remove small items that can be swallowed or choked on, and block off hazardous areas. Check out our blog for a complete list of tips and tricks on dog-proofing your house.

Research Your Dog’s Breed to Understand Breed-Specific Health Concerns

different dog breeds Certain breeds are prone to specific illnesses, diseases, and injuries. Knowing about the different health issues that your dog may be predisposed to will help you detect symptoms early and stay informed on what to do when/if your dog does get sick.

If you want to do a deep dive, you can check out this extremely informative “Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs” by HSVMA. You can also look up your dog’s specific breed on the website or ask your vet.

Nothing Beats Professional Veterinary Care

While these tips are valuable, they do not replace professional veterinary advice. In case of serious illness or injury, contact a vet immediately. Keep your local vet’s contact details and the information of an emergency veterinary clinic in your first aid kit and phone for quick access.

You Got This

happy dogBy embracing pet first aid, you demonstrate your love and commitment to your furry companions’ well-being. From regular check-ups and basic first aid knowledge to maintaining a safe environment and being aware of breed-specific concerns, you become the lifeline of love and care for your pet. Remember, when emergencies arise, you have the power to provide comfort and aid until professional help arrives. Equip yourself with the right knowledge and be prepared to offer your furry friend the care they deserve.


Adopt, Don’t Shop!

Unconditional Rescue Advocates for Adopting a Dog

You’ve likely come across the phrase “adopt, don’t shop” before. This concept has inspired millions of people to open their hearts and homes to dogs in need. If you’re considering adding a new furry companion to your family, it’s crucial to understand the significant reasons why adopting a dog from a shelter is a more impactful choice than buying one from a breeder.

 Overpopulation and Its Consequences:

 The growing number of stray animals and shelter dogs across Orange County, often abandoned pets or victims of neglect and cruelty, highlights the urgent need for adoption. Overpopulation leads to overcrowded shelters struggling to meet the needs of countless animals. Unfortunately, due to limited space and resources, many dogs are euthanized despite their potential for a loving home. 

By choosing to adopt rather than buy a pet, you’ll have a significant impact on the overpopulation crisis. Each time a dog is adopted, space is freed up in the shelter for another animal in need.

 Breaking the Cycle of Puppy Mills:

Puppy mills, where pet stores source their puppies, subject animals to unsafe, unhealthy, and uncomfortable conditions. Dogs in these mills live in small cages, devoid of adequate space, clean water, and proper care.

Adopting a shelter pet means you reject the practices of puppy mills. This affirms that the well-being of animals matters more than convenience or profit. By adopting, you help end the suffering of dogs in these terrible places.

The Downside of Breeding:

dogs up for adoptionPeople who want to get a dog often have a specific breed in mind. That’s when they will resort to using a breeder to get the exact dog that they want. In reality, you can find a purebred in the shelter, so it’s not impossible to find what you want! And if your local shelter doesn’t have any purebreds, consider adopting a mixed breed with your desired breed in them! Mixed breeds are actually healthier than purebreds, and they live longer due to their genetic diversity! You’ll be adopting a dog with some husky in it (or any breed you love), while also getting a happier and healthier dog too! Sounds like a win-win!

Let’s not forget about backyard breeding either. A “backyard breeder” is an amateur animal breeder who doesn’t uphold standard breeding practices. They also give little to no effort towards conducting ethical breeding.

Another con to breeding is that breeders will dump their dogs at the shelter when they are done having babies. That also includes the puppies that are born with defects and are not profitable. So using a breeder to get your dog creates an unhealthy supply and demand for more dogs in the world. It also perpetuates the overpopulation issue in shelters.

 The Cost-Effective Choice of Adoption:

 Adopting a dog from a shelter can be significantly less expensive than buying one from a breeder. This is because shelters are mainly concerned about the well-being of the animals and finding them a home, while breeders view their dogs as products and run their operations to make money. The adoption fee at shelters often covers some important things that you would have to pay for separately if you bought a dog from a breeder. These can include the cost of getting the dog spayed or neutered, its first vaccinations, and a microchip (a tiny device put under the dog’s skin so you can find it if it gets lost).

 Knowing Your Perfect Match:

When you rescue a dog from a shelter, you typically already have an idea of what their personality is like. This makes the dog adopting process that much easier! Understanding the dog’s characteristics increases the chances of a successful adoption, minimizing the likelihood of the dog being returned to the shelter.

Giving Second Chances:

dad and son with a dogAdopting a dog is not just about welcoming a pet into your home; it’s about saving a life, standing against cruelty, and choosing love and companionship over profit and convenience. By adopting, you make a powerful statement about the world you want to live in—a world where empathy and compassion shine, and every animal is valued and cherished. You’ll be giving a deserving dog a second chance at a happy and fulfilling life, showing them that trust and love are possible after a challenging start.

 Adoption isn’t merely a kinder choice—it’s also a responsible and rewarding one. Embracing the “adopt, don’t shop” philosophy is a call to action that can transform lives, both for the dogs and their human companions. By adopting, you embody love, kindness, and respect for all living beings. Welcome a new pet into your life and make a lasting impact through adoption.

If you have decided to adopt a dog but want to learn more on how to pick the right one, check out our article on how to choose the perfect rescue pet.

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