Is A Ferret the Right Pet For You?

10) Specialized diets. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means that they require a special diet high in meat based protein in order to be healthy (34% meat protein and 22% fat is recommended). Some irresponsible pet owners feed low quality cat/kitten food to their ferrets because it is cheaper and can be picked up at the local grocery store; however this can lead to dangerous health problems for the ferret further down the road.

Most commercial cat/kitten foods use grain-based fillers such as corn, wheat or rice as their primary ingredient. Ferrets have very short gastrointestinal tracts which are unable to easily digest grains, fruits or vegetables; this type of food passes mostly undigested through their system, therefore they receive little to no nutritional value from the food, and eventually become ill and malnourished. High quality ferret food is available at pet stores and online, but can be pricier than standard dog or cat food; whether or not you can afford to purchase expensive food for your pet is one of the key factors to consider about ferret ownership.

9) Exotic pets. Although ferret ownership is legal in 48 states (it is illegal to own ferrets in California and Hawaii), many cities and counties can enact their own laws restricting ferret ownership. Verify that the city or county you live in does not have bans or restrictions requiring permits for your ferrets. If you rent or lease property, even if cats and dogs are allowed, do not automatically assume that ferrets are also included on the list of allowed pets. Violations of city or county laws can lead to fines, confiscation of your pet, and possibly euthanization. Violation of rental or lease agreements can also lead to fines and the possible eviction of you and your pets.

8) Children. Ferrets are NOT good pets for children. This is not to say that ferrets shouldn’t be kept in homes with children, as long as both children and ferrets are supervised while playing together. Rather, ferrets are very high maintenance pets, which require a great deal of time, commitment and energy. Most children are unable to do the necessary work required to maintain a healthy and safe environment for a ferret, which can be considerably more intensive than the care needed for a dog or cat. Ferrets are not like gerbils or rabbits which can be left alone in small cages for long periods of time. Ferrets are – in fact – considered “exotic pets,” and should not be purchased on a whim for a child because of how cute they look bouncing around in their cage at the pet store. For parents who think their seven-year-old is a prodigy and ready to learn about the heavy responsibilities of pet ownership; start with a goldfish, not a ferret. For one: a goldfish is much cheaper (ferrets can be anywhere from $80 to $140 not counting food, supplies and housing) and for another: when the inevitable happens and your child becomes bored of their cute new pet, which one do you want to end up taking care of for the rest of its natural lifespan? A goldfish that typically lives two to three weeks? Or a ferret that may live up to ten years?

7) Other Pets. Ferrets can be compatible with some household pets, but not others. As carnivores, ferrets will be guided by their natural instincts to hunt smaller animals like birds, rodents and lizards. If they can be kept safely apart from one another, it’s possible for ferrets and small animals to coexist peacefully, but keep in mind that all it takes is forgetting to latch the iguana tank once, and then no more iguana! Larger animals like dogs and cats can be trained to accept a ferret into the home and will sometimes even play together, although some dog species (like terriers, who were bred to hunt small mammals) might be more prone to attack or seriously injure a ferret. It is best to consider the temperament of your currents pets and how they have reacted to new people/pets in the past; they will likely react in a similar fashion to a new ferret. Younger animals that are raised together will naturally have the easiest time cohabiting; older animals are typically more territorial and resistant to change.

6) Ferret-proofing. Ferrets are naturally curious creatures that will explore every nook and cranny of your home, and can cram themselves into the smallest and most difficult to reach places. This can include places that are dangerous for the ferret, like between the springs of a mattress or couch, beneath or inside a major appliance like a washing machine or a dishwasher, or inside cabinets containing poisonous cleaners or chemicals. Just like with a toddler or a small child, before getting a ferret one must ensure that the entire house or apartment has safety measures in place to prevent accidents from happening. This can be time consuming and necessitate a lot of hard work as you will need to try to predict all the possible places your ferret might squeeze, dig, climb or claw their way into.

Ferrets share another similarity with toddlers in that they like to pick up small objects off of the floor and chew on or eat them. Ferrets have short intestinal tracts in which objects can easily become lodged. This happens most frequently with small pieces of rubber or foam which expand inside the intestine when ingested and cannot be passed. Without immediate (and costly) surgery, such blockages are usually fatal; this is why the second part of ferret-proofing is combing your home for things a ferret might try to chew on or eat, and making sure they are out of the ferret’s reach. Even larger objects like a foam rubber yoga mat or beach sandals can be problematic, since a ferret can gnaw off small chunks and swallow them. If you’re not willing to make some changes to your home environment for safety’s sake and be constantly vigilant of the whereabouts of your pet, then a ferret might not be the best choice for you.

5) Double (and sometimes triple) trouble. Ferrets are sociable animals, and need several hours a day of activity and social interaction in order to be healthy and happy. Many people recommend getting two ferrets instead of one, as ferrets will form strong pair bonds with their cage-mates. Although this is not a substitute for human/pet interaction, it can be helpful for people who need to leave the house for work during the day, but who still want to make sure their pet has companionship. The downside to having multiple ferrets is that you will need more space to house them, and you will be spending more money on food, litter, vet bills, and so on. However, if you are thinking about adopting a ferret from a shelter, it will often be a requirement that you adopt a pair of ferrets, as they will not wish to separate any of the ferrets from their cage mates. Pair-bonded ferrets that are separated can sometimes become deeply depressed to the point of refusing to eat, or even dying. This brings up another challenge, since if you decide to purchase two ferrets who become pair bonded, and then one dies, you are left with a solitary depressed ferret. For many people, the solution is to start out with three ferrets instead of two, but one must keep in mind the corresponding inverse ratio of more ferrets in your home to less money in your wallet, and plan accordingly.

4) Money. Ferrets can be expensive. Compared to buying a purebred dog or cat, the ferret itself isn’t very pricey – usually a single ferret from a pet store (think Petco or Petsmart) will be around $80 to $140. But then you’re going to have to buy a large cage (the larger the better – preferably with multiple levels) for your ferret to sleep in and maybe spend time in throughout the day if necessary – this will usually cost from $90 to $150. You’ll need food and water bowls, litter pans, bags of ferret litter, ferret food, ferret-tone and ferret-lax (a coat conditioning supplement and a hairball treatment… you’ll want both, most pet stores should have them), nail trimmers, a pet carrier, a hammock or sleeping tube for the ferret to lie in, and assorted toys. At this point you’ve probably spent at least $300 to $400 just for your initial setup.

Then you’re going to need to find an exotic pet veterinarian in your area who sees ferrets, as your ferrets will need check-ups and vaccinations like all other pets. If you rent or lease, you may have to pay an extra pet deposit – be sure to check with your landlord. As mentioned previously, ferrets have a specialized diet and the best quality ferret foods tend to be in the pricey range. Ferrets are exotic pets, so even though you see them in the pet store next to the gerbils and across from the Betta fish, don’t get the wrong idea; these are not cheap pets. If your ferret eats a piece of foam rubber that gets stuck in its intestine, you’re looking at emergency veterinary surgery costing over $1000. Even if the initial cost of a ferret doesn’t seem like much, consider whether you would be able to afford to take your ferret to the vet in case of emergency, which can be hundreds of dollars more than you originally planned for.

3) Smell. Ferrets have a musky scent. Some people like it, some people hate it, some people are indifferent. But there’s no way to escape the fact that the ferret is a musky, smelly little creature. Generally ferrets sold in pet stores are de-scented, but this does not entirely eliminate the ferret’s natural odor. You can buy waterless shampoo spray to put on the ferret’s coat which temporarily gives it a fresh, floral scent, but this disappears fairly quickly. It’s also possible to bathe ferrets using special shampoo, although supposedly this actually makes ferrets smellier afterwards because the shampoo strips natural oils from their skin, drying it out, which then causes their oil glands to overcompensate; this makes them smell worse than before their bath. There really isn’t any way to completely eliminate the ferret’s odor, however it can be minimized by making sure its cage/litter is cleaned frequently, and that it is eating high quality food free of fish byproducts. Before purchasing a ferret, go to your local Petco or Petsmart and put your nose over the top of the ferret cage; it will give you a pretty good idea of the type of smell you can expect to face if you bring one home.

2) Poo. Ferrets have a very high metabolism. They eat frequently, they digest their food quickly, and logically that means that they go to the bathroom a lot. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. And ferret poo is smelly, so you’re going to want to clean it up quickly – luckily it’s small and easy to clean up. Just keep in mind that there’s going to be a lot of it. Ferrets can be litter-box trained to a certain extent – they have a natural instinct to back up into the nearest corner whenever they feel the urge to go, so if a pan filled with litter pellets is placed in the corner, eventually they will make the connection and go to the bathroom in the litter pan. However if the ferret is feeling lazy, it will often just back up into the closest corner even if there’s no litter pan there. If you want to be safe rather than sorry, you’ll probably end up with litter pans or folded up newspaper in every intersection of two planes in your house, which may or may not clash with the interior design motif of your furniture.

1) Affection. Ferrets are fun, amusing, intelligent, playful, adorable pets. However they’re not the same as dogs and cats. They don’t particularly like being picked up, or pet, or cuddled; they’re not very affectionate, although they do like stealing pieces of your clothing and stashing them in hidden nests throughout the house. Sometimes they seem glad to see you, although they might just be excited for the treats you’re bringing over. If you want unconditional love, you should probably get a dog. If you want a furry lap warmer, you should probably get a cat. If you want a fuzzy ball of energy that’s a whole lot of trouble, and that may or may not love you as much as you love it, but that will do its best to weasel its cute little way into your heart; then maybe a ferret is the right pet for you.

The Founding of a Thailand Dog Rescue – An Interview With Amandine Lecesne, Of Care For Dogs

Founding any animal rescue is not for the faint of heart. Founding a rescue in a foreign country filled with unfamiliar regulations and different cultural perception towards animals is downright intimidating, at least to almost any rational thinking human being. Yet without brave souls willing to take on such a task countless more animals in the world would suffer. Not to mention that serial volunteers, such as myself, would be without opportunities to help, at least without diving head on into founding an organization ourselves.

This summer marks the third anniversary of Care for Dogs in Chiangmai, Thailand, my favorite place to volunteer. Within their shelter walls I have whiled away hours socializing dogs one day, then the next day, I’ve escaped to spectacular gold-covered, Buddhist temples (wats) to help capture dogs for their spay/neuter program. I am eagerly counting the days until I can return and do much more. As a result of the gifts they have given to both me and to the animals of Northern, Thailand, I wanted to learn more.

Indeed, I wanted to get a peek inside the mind of one of those extraordinary folks who boldly go where even the most foolhardy rescuers have never gone before – establishing a rescue from the ground up. What makes these most intrepid of rescuers tick? Is it a passion for red-tape and astronomical odds, or is there more to it? The following is an interview with Amandine Lecesne. Amandine is one of the co-founders of Care for Dogs.

How did you get your start in animal rescue?

I grew up in the Alps in France and I remember watching the deer out my window and loving their grace. I learned a profound reverence for nature’s families. At thirteen, I stopped eating meat out of respect for animals and at 17, began dreaming of starting a shelter. Though I never set out to complete my dream, years later, when the opportunity presented itself to start Care for Dogs, I jumped on it!” What brought you to Thailand?

“I moved to Thailand in 2005 to work as a teacher and to do some volunteer work. I hadn’t found a passion yet, and I wanted to explore options. I had worked as a counselor and, once in Thailand, started working with immigrants. But once here, I couldn’t overlook the hundreds of street dogs limping, scrounging for scraps in trash, being kicked and hit, birthing litters on street corners, starving, walking around with tumors or open wounds, scratching fleas off, losing energy from the bloodsucking ticks riddling their bodies, and dying either from traffic accidents or of diseases. Helping the street dogs became a priority and it has been an incredible joy to see some of these creatures find safety and protection and even start wagging their tails again!”

What made you decide to start an animal rescue in Chiangmai?

“We set up a shelter/animal rescue group in Thailand primarily because there was such a tremendous need for one. Although all countries have a need for shelters/spay campaigns/adoption programs, etc, Thailand is one of the only countries whose overall human population really wanted to help reduce the stray/suffering dog population without resorting to eating dogs, but they just didn’t have the funds/knowledge to go about doing so in a kind and loving manner. It was obvious to us that there was both a really desperate need for an animal rescue group/shelter as well as a desire from the community to see such a program be put in place.”

When and how did you go about founding Care for Dogs?

“I developed an intimate friendship with Karin Hawelka who was as passionate about caring for the street dogs around our area as I was, and was as hopeful that, if we started a shelter, we could potentially attract enough financial support to really make a difference in the dogs’ lives. Though our rescue work started much earlier, our shelter officially opened June 2006. We’ve been expanding our efforts and impact ever since!”

What is your job like there?

“Unlike Karin who stays and maintains the shelter operations on a daily basis, I go back and forth between Thailand and the states (I go back to the US in part to work, in part to continue my studies). When I’m in Thailand, my job consists of giving vaccinations, bringing dogs to the vet to be spayed, cleaning wounds, administering ivermectin to dogs suffering from mange, putting IV lines in for dogs who need extra hydration, responding to emergency calls, helping with adoptions, deworming street dogs, doing heartworm tests (and giving the appropriate treatment if they test positive), caring for newborns, and often (unfortunately, too often) caring for dying and/or severely ill dogs.

What I enjoy doing the most, though, is going around the familiar temples and parking lots on which many dogs roam. I like checking in on the doggies to make sure they’re healthy, being looked after by neighboring street vendors, up to date on their vaccinations and deworming, free from ticks and fleas, as well as spayed/neutered. I love calling out when I arrive and having 4-7 dogs who know me come rushing out of bushes, corners, under benches, to say hi and eagerly receive kisses and belly rubs! These dogs are truly the loves of my life.”

What does your family think of your Care for Dogs work?

“My family has been extremely supportive of the work we do. They’ve had the opportunity to come to Thailand and see the issues first hand and therefore understand our inability to turn a blind eye to the animals’ suffering.”

What is the best rescue story you’ve seen?

“One of the best rescue stories we’ve seen started in September of 2007. It was at that time that several concerned children of an old lady that had recently passed away contacted Care for Dogs and explained that their kind elderly mother had been taking street dogs into her home for years. Although she’d had good intentions to provide a safe home for each of the rescues, she had felt pressured by her neighbors to keep them quiet and had resorted to locking them up in covered up cages so as to stop them from seeing anything that would alarm them, including each other.

Unfortunately, she knew, that a sad reality was that if the dogs barked too much, they could be poisoned or taken and sent away to the meat market by annoyed neighbors. When we got to her house, we were shocked and horrified to witness 14 dogs being kept in a constant state of loneliness and boredom. Although some were “fortunate” to be imprisoned with another dog, some were completely isolated in their own small dark space. Some of the dogs were at various stages of blindness, apparent from their white eyes and a couple were quite old and frail. All of them, though, were completely terrified of anything outside of their tiny 2 x 2 cell.

When they first arrived at the Care For Dog shelter, many of the 14 dogs were unable to leave the security of a corner or the darkness under a floor of a hut for quite some time, cowering with their tail between their legs. With our volunteers’ help and patient understanding, slowly but surely, they all emerged into the main area of the shelter and started getting some much needed play and socialization. Although the dogs have not all fully recovered from their neglect, we hope that some day, with the love and affection they continue to receive on a daily basis that they will! We’re incredibly grateful to have been a part of these dogs’ rescue and have enjoyed helping each of them start wagging their tails again.”

What are your goals for Care for Dogs?

“Our main priority is on spaying. Sterilizing is the only effective preventative method to reduce the number of unwanted street dogs. We are currently spaying between 400-500 dogs a year, though we hope to increase those numbers even further. We are also striving to see that every dog has a loving and forever home. To date, we have found homes for over 500 animals!

In general, we strive to work with communities so that families adopt stray dogs instead of purchasing purebreds, give them a stable and caring home, pet their dogs instead of hit them, spay/neuter them before reproductive age, and take them to the vet whenever they fall ill. Until that process is achieved, we will continue to work hard with communities, temples, schools, and families, to teach animal compassion, relating, bonding, and understanding.”

What volunteer opportunities exist at Care for Dogs?

“Individuals who wish to volunteer with us have the opportunity to come socialize our dogs by playing, grooming, bathing, or walking them. Many street dogs have never had the constant love and support volunteers can provide them! Our dogs, in turn, are always fond of newcomers who have a passion for helpers. They can sense good intentions and will eagerly jump on the occasion to be paid attention to. People can also help with vet trips and/or temple runs, learn to give injections and treat mange, pick up dogs who need to be spayed or taken to the vet for a physical, do heartworm tests, help with emergency calls, assist with writing articles for the website, aid us in fundraising or other types of administrative work. We also always have loads of opportunities for those wishing to help us with translations!”

What would you like the Thai people to know most about dogs in their country?

“I’d like everyone to realize just how incredibly caring and loving dogs can be. Because of the attachments that they are able to form, they can also be pained by the separation from those they’ve learned to care about. I’d like all humans to be simply more humane when interacting with animals, and understand that street dogs are frightened, hungry, and often hurting and that they would benefit so much from a kind gesture of food or hug. It’s important to remember that, a long time ago, human beings were the ones who brought wolves into their homes in order to protect their territory. We are the ones who transformed wolves into dogs and made them dependent on our care and affection. We therefore have a responsibility to them to hold up our part of the bargain – wolves and dogs have, for many centuries, protected and watched over us. Now it is our turn to protect and watch over them”

What would you like the people of the world to know most about the dogs of Thailand?,

“I would be grateful if people around the world would see and realize that many street dogs in Thailand are being at best ignored, but at worst abused, maltreated and harassed. It’s important to funnel our energy into programs, like Care for Dogs, which help local communities manage the street dog population with kindness, understanding and patience. I would also like the people of the world to realize that vet services in Thailand are a tenth cheaper than they would be in the West so you can imagine what a difference to our efforts even a small contribution can make!”

Is there anything else you would like to mention about the work of Care for Dogs?

“Our first priority is spaying female street, temple, parking lot and community dogs in order to reduce the number of homeless dogs in a humane way. Our current budget allows us to spay between 400-500 dogs per year. After spaying, we keep the dogs for one week at our shelter for after-care before they are returned to their original areas. We wish we could keep all street dogs with us but due to limitations in space, we just can’t! We’re convinced, however, that spaying the ones we do find will inevitably reduce the overpopulation and limit the suffering future generations will have to endure.

Additionally, vaccinations are a very important part of our protocol for homeless dogs. Deworming, heartworm prevention, de-flea and de-tick treatments are also a regular part of our health care program. Once the dogs are healthy and spayed, we actively look for new homes for the dogs at our shelter. For every dog that’s adopted, we can take a new one to our shelter. Last year we found new homes for 202 dogs and cats, and this year, 180 homes were found!

Furthermore we operate a rescue-service. We regularly take in sick or injured dogs for treatment. On average, we have approx. 20 – 30 dogs staying at the shelter for medical treatment. Last, but not least, we have organized an educational program named “Professor Paws”. We work with local schools to enable school classes to visit our shelter, sensitizeing the kids and teachers to the homeless dog situation. Last year, we also started a school project in a temple where we introduced a group of students to basic dog care and organized spayings, vaccinations and feeding. The students even organized various fundraising events (e.g. movie nights or bake sales) to help raise funds for this project.

We are also currently developing future school-temple projects as well as dog-care workshops for dog owners in surrounding villages. “

As you see Amandine and fellow co-founder Karin Hawelka are as irrepressible as they are inspirational. Perhaps to some people establishing an animal rescue simply feels like the most natural thing on Earth. Brave souls!

Pet Supplies For Your Cat Or Dog

Owning a dog or cat is a wonderful thing. They seem to have an almost uncanny ability to immediately become one of your family members. They are giving creatures who bestow unqualified love upon their masters and mistresses without so much as asking for a thing in return. They trust their well-being to you completely. It is precisely because of this that you as a pet owner will want to properly provide for your animal. With this in mind, let’s take a quick look at some pet supplies for your dog or cat.

Let’s start with Fido. Once you bring a new dog into your home there are a few staples you will want to have already in place. The most obvious things are food and water bowls. Just be sure to buy a bowl that is commensurate with your pooch’s size. You will also want to have a collar and leash on hand. Dogs love to run and play, and you do not want to have your dog go missing the first day.

Most dogs love to go for a spin in the car. They eat up the chance to stick their heads out the passenger window and soak up the scenery with the wind at their face. Some people are reticent to have their dog join them while driving. The concern is that Fritz will get his hair, among other things, all over the car’s interior. The answer to this is to purchase doggy car seat covers designed for the car.

There are a few other items you may wish to have in tow for the dog. They will make both you and the pooch happier. They include: a flea collar, dog treats, toys, and a bed.

Now on to cats, they have very sharp claws and they love to keep them that way. Along with their quickness, they are your cat’s first line of defense. As such, the legs of your table, rug, and favorite chair are candidates for claw abuse. But there is an alternative. Consider providing old Fluffy with either a scratching post or pad. Your furniture will thank you.

As with dogs, some cats love being outside to explore their surroundings. Sometimes their adventurous spirit leads them quite away from your house. So it is a good idea to attach an I. D. Tag to their collar. It should include your contact information, not just the cat’s name surrounded by a heart.

Cats tend to be immaculate animals. Whether they are an in door or outdoor cat, or some combination of the two, they will use the litter box and not some corner of your living room floor. There are myriad choices available today. There are hooded models, self cleaning ones, and even electric litter boxes.

The number of pet supplies for cats and dogs extend into the hundreds. This has been but a small sample of what is available for your pet. You can get dozens of more ideas, from the obvious to the quirky, with a simple search on the web.