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Celebrate National Pet Month with a Pet-friendly Vacation

May is National Pet Month, an annual celebration dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership, encouraging pet adoption, and celebrating the special bond between pets and their owners.
With millions of households across the world owning at least one pet, National Pet Month is an opportunity to recognize the many benefits of pet ownership, including improved mental and physical health, companionship, and increased socialization. It’s also a chance to highlight the important work of animal welfare and rights organizations, whose sole mission is to provide care and support to pets in need.
We want to encourage pet owners to show their pets just how important they are to them, by treating them to the trip of a lifetime! In celebration of National Pet Month, the following properties are waiving ALL pet fees for any 2023 stays booked in the month of May — use promo code PAWPERKS. Some exclusions may apply.


Use promo code PAWPERKS to get the deal!

Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Art Hotel, Laguna Beach, CA

Photo: Stock.adobe.com

Sands Inn & Suites, San Luis Obispo, CA

Photo courtesy Onsen Hotel & Spa

Onsen Hotel & Spa, Palm Springs, CA

Photo Courtesy Mountain Valley Lodge

Mountain Valley Lodge, Sun Valley, ID

Photo courtesy Ponderosa Inn

Ponderosa Inn, Portland, OR

Photo courtesy Golden Gate Hotel

Golden Gate Hotel, San Francisco, CA

National Pet Month is a time to celebrate the joy pets bring to our lives. A vacation is the ultimate treat! Life can get RUFF, call and book your trip MEOW!

Dealing With Anxiety?

5 Top Tips to Calm Your Pet

I s your pet showing signs of anxiety? Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid. Our pets experience this just as we do. The good news is that there is help! Many pets have deeply rooted anxiety issues, especially those who have been rescued or re-homed. After rescuing dogs from the streets of Mexico for a decade, I have extensive experience that I’d like to share in treating anxious pets. For these little angels, anxiety can be treated with therapy. If you have a young pup or kitty, then prevention is key. This will take dedication on your part, but in most cases you can help relieve or prevent anxiety in your precious cat or dog.

5 Top Tips

  1. Animal Massage Therapy Heals
    Massage therapy works to reduce mental stress as well as physical stress. It helps to reduce blood pressure, along with your pet’s heart rate, allowing them to relax. Massage also helps to relieve pain, which may be causing the anxiety. The massage releases endorphins that will help an anxious pet to relax. For extremely social pets, it gives their minds and bodies a time to heal and repair. By working on the dog’s soft tissues, canine massage can reduce stress, improve blood flow, alleviate  pain, relax tight muscles, and help heal sprains. It is also believed to strengthen the immune system, improve digestion, and lower blood pressure.
    The presence of a professional therapist touching them with love and compassion is good for their mind, focus, and socialization—at any age.
  2. Music Therapy Really Works
    Music therapy has helped my anxious dog Planeta relax when I leave the house. Clinical studies in dogs, cats, and people have revealed that our auditory systems operate basically the same (although we hear different frequency spectrums). Slow rhythms calm us down, while faster rhythms excite us. I love the music by iCalmPet, which they refer to as “simple sound.” This means they minimize intricate auditory information. The music of iCalmPet is intentionally selected, arranged, and recorded to provide easeful auditory assimilation. It has helped my senior dog relax while I am out, and she is no longer looking for paper to chew. Once I started playing iCalmPet music, I stopped coming home to chewed up papers and have more relaxed dogs.
  3. Acupressure and Laser Acupoint Therapies
    Anxiety can be released by targeting points on the body associated with life force. When pressure or laser acupoint therapy is applied to these points, your pet will feel more relaxed. Not only this, but by clearing the block of energy flow through these meridians, you will help keep your pet healthy and feeling well. Acupressure is generally tolerated well when combined with massage therapy. Laser acupoint therapy is noninvasive, no pressure is used, no heat is emitted, and the tool does not need to make physical contact with your pet. Your pet will most likely not feel the energy of the light. Learn more at rescuedtails.com.
  4. Plant Extracts are Not Snake Oil
    Known as CBD, the cannabinoid extracted from the non-psychoactive hemp plant is extremely beneficial in treating pets with anxiety. I give my senior dogs CBD daily for their overall health. The CBD tincture will help your pet to relax quickly when given orally, and will “take the edge off” throughout the day when dropped on their food for a slower release. Treats are also available and make dosing simple and fun! CBD is non-intoxicating and non-addictive. Many people have questions about the true effects of CBD, strengths, and dosages. To learn more, visit rescuedtails.com.
  5. Essential Oils & Flower Essences are Not Mystical
    Calming scents such as lavender, captured in essential oils, may be used in a vaporizer or diluted in a carrier oil and sprayed or applied topically. Aromatherapy is not some new-age fad—it’s a proven method for helping your pets stay calm.
    Flower essences are used differently. These tinctures and sprays are used sublingually, sprayed on fur, or dropped into your pet’s water/food. Both provide the same relief—I recommend trying them both to see which your pet responds to best.
    There are additional remedies on the market, such as pheromone therapy, microcurrent electrical therapy (MET), and cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), as well as various types of calming jackets, to name just a few.

How Animal Shelters are Evolving

Courtesy San Diego Humane Society

The first animal shelter was more of a catch pen for stray horses and farm animals, run by a single person who wrangled up the animals and then charged people a fee to retrieve them. The creation of this transaction put a new value on animals, extending to companion animals like dogs and cats. During this period, these lost souls were kept in inhumane conditions, received little to no medical care, and if not retrieved by their owner or an interested buyer, faced imminent death.

In the late 1800s, concerned about the treatment of horses at these operations, the Women’s Branch of the Pennsylvania SPCA in Philadelphia became the first organization to focus on the humane treatment of shelter animals. This intervention paved the way for improvements in animal welfare, rules and regulations around boarding animals, laws and legislation to protect animals, and the formation of other animal welfare organizations.

The most seismic undertaking has been that of the actual brick-and-mortar animal shelter and their operational standards. While animal welfare has many moving parts, public animal shelters are at the center of the axis in communities nationwide. From how it looks from passersby to the overarching philosophy driving operational protocols, to how it involves the people of the community, every detail matters when it comes to saving the lives of the animals inside.

The public shelter system is stretched thin, to say the least. Animals enter at what feels like lightning speed, but getting them safely out of the shelter often feels like a slow leak. When public shelters are at capacity and have no more kennel space to house homeless pets, they look for rescue resources, animal transfers, and adopters to come through with assistance. If enough assistance is not available, often euthanasia of selected animals occurs.

Ending the practice of killing animals for space is a driving force behind the tireless work people and organizations have been fighting for in public shelters. To tackle such an ingrained practice requires time, research, program and resource implementation, good and bad ideas, successes and failures, and a dedication from shelter staff, volunteers, advocates, community members, and animal lovers to not waver from what they believe is the right thing to do.

Changing the Way We Think
Science has played a tremendous role in innovative veterinary disease treatment and prevention. The expansion of veterinary school curriculum to include Shelter Medicine has made way for more compassionate care for shelter animals. Research has given us insight and understanding around the human-animal bond, and animal psychology. Technology has streamlined the daily paper shuffle into an accessible and accurate wealth of information, including shelter statistics that allow professionals to look at the system holistically, identify challenges, and develop solutions on a larger scale. And finally, compassionate people who care about animals have shown up, spoken out, and demanded transparency on behalf of the animals. These actions continue to bring lifesaving program development, changes in legislation, updates in animal protection laws, and a greater community awareness around animal welfare.

Creating a Collaborative Community
Community sheltering is a shelter model that focuses on saving the lives of homeless animals by providing a holistic model. Research has shown that often animals are surrendered due to lack of resources or assistance in an emergency. This means that shelters are meeting people and pets where they are, lifting adoption barriers, providing resources from pet food to veterinarian care to those in need, and much more.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, animal shelters were met with an overwhelming demand from the public who wanted to foster or adopt a pet. The time at home, for some, meant lifestyle changes that made adopting a new companion possible. This radical demand for companion animals made shelters and rescues stop to wonder if they had been missing something. Were all these people available before the pandemic? Was there this much interest in helping pets all along? How do we help everyone get involved?

The Power of First Impressions
Shelters are upgrading the way they appear to the public, leaving behind the dreary compound vibe and moving into a more modern and welcoming style. Welcoming building designs, bright and thoughtful spaces, and calming kennels encourage the public to visit and help shift the public perception of shelters being sad and scary places. Forward-thinking shelters know that creating a positive experience for the shelter visitors will keep them coming back and perhaps inspire them to sign up to volunteer or apply for a job.
For the animals, an updated facility can mean improved health and wellness protocols. For example, easier to clean kennels mean less stress on the animals. More space for programming means enrichment, like playgroups and training sessions outside the kennel. A welcoming facility means more caring volunteers will be on site to work closely with animals who need extra TLC. And, most important, a welcoming facility means more eager adopters will walk through the doors.

Photo courtesy San Diego Humane Society

Prioritizing Animal Health & Enrichment
Years ago, if a dog was picked up by animal control and dropped off at the shelter, that dog would be assessed right then and there for temperament. This temperament test would determine if said dog would make it to a kennel or be euthanized. If the dog lashed out, nipped, or bit during those first moments of being at the shelter, they would more than likely be deemed a danger and euthanized.
Today we understand that, like humans, a dog (or any being) thrust into a new, strange place will most likely feel fear and uncertainty. Like humans, different animals react differently to these feelings. Some shut down, some bite. We know now that animals in a new place need time to adjust to their new surroundings before they feel safe enough to show us their personality.
To accommodate this, some shelters are hiring animal behaviorists or trainers who have a deeper understanding about animal behavior and, more importantly, humane solutions to support them.
We also understand that animals are sentient beings, capable of feelings, able to create strong bonds with other animals and humans, with a need for mental and physical stimulation, movement, and ways to reduce or burn off stress. Shelters are addressing these needs in multiple ways, including:

• Playgroups indoors or outdoors give animals opportunity to socialize, play, and use their senses in a different way. It also allows them to burn off energy, reduces stress, and allows shelter staff and volunteers to see a dog’s personality bloom.
• In-kennel enrichment, such as presenting meals in food puzzles, adding toys for self-engagement, and providing human interaction with volunteers, including brushing, petting, or massaging.
• Daily individual walks give dogs a break from the kennel, offer a structured form of exercise, practice leash manners, explore sights and smells, and enjoy human companionship.
• Field trips with volunteers or staff, such as café outings or shopping trips, give animals a break from the shelter, an opportunity to practice their behavior skills, explore new sights and smells, enjoy a car ride, get one-on-one time with a companion and be seen by potential adopters.
• Pack walks or hikes offer socialization with people and other dogs, training, leash manners, and other training. opportunities, stress reduction, and more.
• The Read to a Shelter Dog Program gives young readers a forgiving (and furry) ear to listen to them practice reading. This gives the animal companionship, the sound of a calming voice, and an opportunity to get a few scratches and treats along the way.

Photo courtesy San Diego Humane Society

Refreshing Old Practices
Out with the old and in with the new—and improved! As public perception changes and the needs of animals within a community change, shelter protocols must change as well. Some of those include:

• Offering accessible hours of operation to the public; for example, being open on the weekends, and having one night a week where the shelter is open after regular business hours. This gives people with traditional work schedules and other obligations times they can access and visit the animal shelter.
• Lifting outdated adoption barriers such as income requirements or home checks.
• Prioritizing pet reunification.
• Expanding foster care programs to support adoption outside the shelter walls.
• Feral cat programs, or Trap, Neuter, Return, Manage (TNRM), keep them out of shelters, but offer management and care of the colonies plus to control their population.
• Humane education for the community around animal issues such as feral cats, spaying and neutering, microchipping, and other animal issues.
• Implementing volunteers across all areas of shelter administration and operation and animals’ health and well-being.
• Marketing and the use of social platforms are integral to showing the public that the shelter has nothing to hide, welcomes visitors, and can ask for public assistance when the shelter is overwhelmed.

Offering Outside Support Services for Community Members
• Fencing and small repairs programs. Helping a community member keep their animals from getting out of the yard or home reduces shelter intake.
• Post-adoption training courses help new pet parents navigate a successful transition from shelter to home.
• Pet food banks help pet parents provide food for their pets during challenging times instead of surrendering their pet to the shelter due to lack of funds.
• Low-cost medical clinics at the shelter, mobile, or at veterinarian offices help pet parents access easy and affordable care.
• Housing animals during times of emergency without risk of euthanasia for community members experiencing temporary challenges, such as personal illness, transition from a domestic abuse situation to safe shelter, natural catastrophe, losing a home, seeking a new rental home that accept pets.

Thinking Outside the Box: Ways Animal Shelters are Connecting with Public
Despite the remodels, upgrades, and changes shelters have gone through, there are still those who are hesitant to enter an animal shelter for one reason or another. Luckily, there are alternatives to a visit to the shelter, including:
• Cat cafes that work with shelters or rescues and include areas to meet adoptable cats while sipping coffee or tea.
• Retail spaces that offer pet adoptions like Living Free Desert Outpost Store located in The Shops at Palm Desert and LA Love & Leashes at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles.
• Pet supply stores offering in-store adoption events.
• Nationwide events like Clear the Shelters, sponsored by large media outlets.
• Mega adoption events usually held outdoors offering pet adoptions from multiple organizations with a day of events, including food trucks, entertainment, shopping vendors, and fun activities for kids.
• Puppy and kitten yoga is exactly what it sounds like. A yoga class where shelter volunteers bring kittens and/or puppies to class and allow them to explore and help you find your Zen. Ask your yoga studio if they host these events!

The animal shelter system has come a long way, but there is still work to be done. The animal welfare world is one in constant need, with limited resources, and that’s why the community sheltering model is so powerful. It allows everyone to get involved, brings engagement among the community, identifies relevant issues and needs, and builds a platform for finding solutions—the biggest one being saving the lives of animals.

Shelter or Rescue?

It’s important to note that, while your community may have many organizations with the words “animal shelter” in the name, there are distinctions between each model. These models are explained below.

Government-Operated Animal Shelters
Municipal animal shelters are open admission, which means the public may turn in a lost animal, injured wildlife, stray farm animals, or surrender their pet. This usually means there is an animal control department that patrols the community within the city limits, picking up strays, redirecting or triaging wildlife, responding to animal abuse calls, and in some cases issuing citations for pets that do not have a license within the city. Examples of this model are Coachella Valley Animal Campus, LA Animal Services, and Riverside County Animal Services.

Non-Profit Shelters & Rescues Offer a Safe Haven
The municipal shelter system cannot work alone and relies on the support of animal welfare organizations including non-profit shelters and rescues to take in animals at risk of euthanasia.
Here’s a look at the partnerships that make the system work.

Public-Private Animal Shelter Model. This is a model where funding is provided by both the city the animal shelter services and a non-profit charity arm that accepts donations from the public or other entities. This model provides care for higher need cases and does not euthanize animals for space. Examples are San Diego Humane Society and Palm Springs Animal Shelter.

Non-Profit Animal Shelter. This model is supported strictly by donations, typically with no budget support from the city they reside in. The non-profit shelter model often offers higher care to the animals and does not euthanize for space. An example of this is Animal Samaritans.
Non-Profit Animal Rescue with Shelter Facility. This is a non-profit organization that is funded by donations and has a brick-and-mortar facility that allows them to house animals in addition to using the foster-based model. Examples are California Paws Rescue, Wags & Walks, Loving All Animals, and Helen Woodward Animal Center.

Non-Profit Foster Based Animal Rescue. This is a non-profit organization that is funded by donations and does not have a brick-and-mortar facility. The animals are cared for by volunteer fosters and live in a home environment temporarily while they await adoption. Examples are Labelle Foundation and The Beagle Freedom Project. Animals are only saved when a foster is available.

The Independent Rescuer. This is a person who may or may not hold a non-profit status, but rescues animals on a small scale; for example, one at a time. These rescuers will rescue, rehabilitate, foster, and find an adopter using their own means or fundraising through social media or online fundraising sites, such as gofundme.com. They are as integral to the lifesaving process as larger organizations.
Ideally, all these organizations would work together to keep shelter animals moving from government shelters to safe shelters and rescues to adopted homes.

How to Keep Your Cat’s Litter Box Smelling Fresh

Photo courtesy Living Free Animal Shelter

You love your cat, but let’s be real—cleaning their litter box is not the highlight of your day. It’s a chore, plain and simple. But imagine having to clean 40 litter boxes every day! That’s the daily routine for the dedicated staff at Living Free Animal Sanctuary’s cattery, a haven that more than 100 cats call home.

The staff manages to keep the cattery smelling like a bed of roses instead of a litter box through a love-filled, fun, and care-packed process. Working in teams of three, the staff cleans both the litter boxes and the floor around the litter boxes with animal-safe sanitizing and deodorizing cleaning products.
During the cleaning process, the staff takes time to bond and socialize with the cats, which not only helps them form closer relationships with the feline residents, but also helps them keep a tab on their health. The staff can easily tell when a cat might be sick or isn’t using the litter box as usual, which helps them catch any potential health issues early on. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a cat’s health just by cleaning their litter box!

Visitors are always amazed by the cattery’s clean and fresh scent, despite the number of cats living there. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff and volunteers at Living Free Animal Sanctuary. They work tirelessly to ensure the cattery is not only a safe and loving home for the cats but also a pleasant place for everyone who visits.

And if you’re looking to keep your own home smelling fresh and clean with a feline friend, here are three tips from the experts at Living Free:
Clean the litter box regularly and thoroughly. The more frequently you clean it, the less odor it will produce.
Use a good quality unscented litter that has strong odor-control properties.

Regularly wash and replace the litter box, especially if it’s looking worn or dirty.

Ready to adopt a furry friend? Right now, Living Free Animal Sanctuary has a special adoption package. When you adopt a cat, you’ll receive all the things you need to welcome your new feline into your home. Come on over and find your purrfect match!

Elimination Matters – The Scoop on Where Pets Poop

The act of elimination (urination and defecation) is something veterinarians have to discuss with each client during every appointment. Understanding a patient’s bowel movements, water intake, urinary habits, and eating behaviors help to assess general health as well as pinpoint particular medical issues. Sometimes, for owners, discussing their pets’ “potty habits” can be a little awkward. You might think, “I’m not a dog, or cat, how am I supposed to know about animals pooping?” You may even wonder if your animal’s behaviors when eliminating are normal (just do a quick online search and look at all the questions about dog poop!).
Many factors shape where and how a dog, cat, or other animal chooses to poop or pee. Understanding animal behavior can help eliminate the mystery of elimination (pun intended!). As in most cases regarding medicine, one must first learn “normal” before understanding what is “abnormal.”
Elimination behavior begins at birth. For the first few weeks of life, puppies and kittens are dependent on their mothers. Mom will gently lick and clean the urogenital region of their babies to promote defecation and urination. This act also assists to maintain clean hygiene and keep the den space clean to reduce parasite load, ammonia buildup and potential attraction of other animals. Around 3 to 4 weeks of age, puppies and kittens become more mobile and can ambulate around the den. At this time, they will be able to eliminate on their own, and start choosing locations based on innate preferences.
Dogs and cats have a preference to eliminate 1) on porous surfaces (i.e., grass, carpet, dirt), 2) in a place where elimination has occurred previously, and 3) away from their sleeping and eating locations. Young animals will need to eliminate more frequently—puppies can hold their urine approximately 1 hour for each month of age (so a 4-week-old puppy will pee once an hour, on average). Other factors that will affect where our fur kids choose to eliminate include environmental noises, temperatures, smells, animals, etc. For example, many dogs will be less willing to defecate when it is raining outside. And a loud noise—perhaps the laundry machine starting up—can startle a cat right out of the litter box.
When a dog does decide to eliminate, there are common behavioral patterns to expect. They will show more interest in sniffing and smelling, circling behaviors, and interest in a particular location. Some may lift their leg or squat to urinate. Often, a squatting posture is used with tail lifted for defecation, although there can be some variation. Some dogs may scratch afterward to partially cover their excrement. There can be other ritual aspects to a dog’s elimination pattern that are individualized from dog to dog.

Cats are generally litter box trained if they’re indoor cats, and they’ll often scratch around first in the substrate/litter material provided prior to eliminating. Urination and defecation are generally done while squatting. Intact males may also mark, which is a separate behavior from elimination but can be misinterpreted by owners. This behavior usually includes a pattern of backing up to a vertical surface with tail up to spray the wall, furniture, tree, etc. Cats generally engage in more digging afterward to cover their excrement. If the litter box isn’t cleaned frequently, the ammonia from the urine can build up and irritate their respiratory passages, leading to litter box aversion. Other medical issues, such as lower urinary tract disease, arthritis, and hormonal diseases may also lead cats to urinate elsewhere (often on soft substrates, such as towels, bedding or clothing).
I believe the most important symptom owners can look for is a change in a pet’s elimination pattern. That should be a signal to owners that it’s time to ask your veterinarian to rule out a medical issue, through diagnostics that may include bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays, and other tests.

Big Dogs Need Your Help

Photo courtesy Palm Springs Animal Shelter

If you’ve been following your local animal shelters in the news and social media, you’re likely aware that most are jam-packed with large breed dogs. Shelters nationwide are dealing with a perfect storm of circumstances that has caused a flood of owner surrenders and an uptick in probable abandonment cases. As loathe as we are to belabor the chorus of the many ways COVID-19 has disrupted society, the impact on pet owners and animal shelter services cannot be overlooked. Landlord and homeowner association disputes, socioeconomic issues, and the ending of pandemic era protections and relief all bear primary responsibility for the current shelter overpopulation. However, while the intake and adoption rates of cats and small breed dogs has remained relatively steady, big dogs are suffering an untenable rate of intakes, with very few adopters coming to their rescue. Sadly, many big dogs are becoming long-term residents of shelters that are often so overcrowded that two or even three big dogs share a single kennel.
While the animal welfare community cannot control the circumstances that led to this emergency, we can educate potential pet
owners—we can reinforce the importance of planning ahead for pet adoption and explain the myths vs. reality of big dog ownership. With the efforts of the animal welfare community combined with the open hearts and minds of potential pet owners, maybe someday these wonderful dogs will no longer be surrendered to shelters or overlooked by adopters simply because of their breed or size.

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

Plan Ahead For Your New Best Friend
There are a few things that any potential adopter should consider before adopting any animal:
Check your lease or homeowners’ association (HOA) rules and regulations: Many property management companies and HOAs restrict dogs based on breeds and size. While efforts to prohibit this type of discrimination have gained traction in recent years, these restrictions still exist in many areas and should be taken seriously.
Know the costs involved: You’ll want to have a realistic plan in place for how you intend to pay for the things a dog will need throughout its life, including food, supplies and medical care.
Be realistic about your lifestyle: Dogs need lots of interaction with their humans for exercise, play, and cuddles. If you’re a road warrior at work or do a lot of traveling, make sure you have a plan for how a dog will still get this crucial socialization.

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

Big Dogs Mean Big Fun!
Many people are of the perception that they are not candidates to adopt a big dog for one reason or another. Often, we find that these perceptions are not necessarily aligned with the reality of big dog ownership. You may be surprised to learn that what you may have heard about big dogs isn’t necessarily true!
Many big dogs don’t need as much exercise as you may think: With the exception of puppies, who need lots of exercise no matter their breed, many adult big dogs don’t need as much exercise as people think. In fact, as long as you provide a long daily walk, many big dogs are happy to spend the rest of their day indoors doing mentally stimulating activities like chewing and playing with toys. In fact, we have seen many big dogs thrive even in small apartments as long as they are getting the appropriate amount of outdoor exercise.
Big dogs tend to do well with children: When socialized and trained properly, big dogs are patient and gentle when interacting with children. Big dogs understand their size and strength and can tolerate the roughhousing children sometimes initiate while controlling their play style as to not injure their human children friends.
Big dogs are primed for training: Many large breed dogs were bred to be easily trainable. If you can start training early in life, many big dog owners find training a big dog to be a much less intense job than training a small dog.
Simply put, big dogs are a blast: Big dogs want to do any and every activity with you! These dogs are perfect companions for hiking, camping, bike rides and more. You’ll never be lost for things to do with a big dog, because they’re so versatile.

Ready To Adopt?
If a big dog would suit your lifestyle and you’re ready to adopt one of your own, now is the time! Visit a local shelter or rescue and find your perfect match. Many organizations are currently offering incentives to adopt in an effort to alleviate the overcrowding they face. Please consider giving one of these gentle giants the loving home they so deserve.

Pet Health Expo LA

The Pet Health Expo is one of the few shows dedicated exclusively to helping dogs and cats relieve the physical and emotional pains of day-to-day life. Once opened in full, the pet-friendly expo promises to be an unprecedented experience for dog and cat owners, offering over 125 pop-up stores, pet health experts, and other unique vendors dedicated to helping pet parents better care for their furry friends.

Opening at the brand new Magic Box convention center in Los Angeles, California, the entrance for the preview event was filled with the sight of various pop-up stores featuring all types of pet health products and services. Various pup-influencers walked the floor with their humans, trying out various products and taking selfies at the fun photo-op wall! 

The same sentiment was shared throughout the room: it is truly wonderful to have such an amazing resource available in one cumulative space, especially as a pet parent. All of the exhibitors were passionate about their mission, and the energy throughout the expo was infectious. I, along with the other attendees, had the chance to visit the various vendors and get valuable information about pet health, care, and overall well-being. The vendors provided tips on healthy diets, preventative treatments, holistic care, and a wide range of other important topics.

Photo: Anabel DFlux

Although the preview did not feature all of the vendors available during the full days, the ones that were present all held pet care close to home. Most of the businesses were single or family owned, local community companies that aim to truly improve the everyday lives for our four-legged best friends. For example, PupLids was one of the first vendors on the show floor – trucker hats for dogs designed to help keep the sun from being bothersome! Started by a husband and wife, PupLids come in a variety of sizes to accommodate all kinds of dogs.

Photo: Anabel DFlux

Urban Dog Stars is another community-oriented brand. This woman-owned business creates truly stylish harnesses, leashes, and collars for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Combining innovation in design, fit and function with a modern flair and fashion-forward elements, they have made quality products available to pet parents of any budget. The company’s commitment to stylish, durable pet items is clear in their collections (especially the new Apple Air Tag collar!).

A common thread that tied several of the brands together is the implementation of human-successful treatments to the animals we love. The toys and wraps from CALMR Dog are a good example of this. Created by occupational therapist Mary Beth Evans, CALMR Dog is not only designed to help manage behaviors associated with stress, but also to promote relaxation. Mary Beth, who specializes in neurobehavioral therapies, was inspired to create CALMR Dog after observing her own frustrated dog, Buddy. Realizing that many of the strategies she uses with her work with autistic children to help them process sensory information could also help dogs. By incorporating specially designed toys and wraps, CALMR Dog can be used in everyday life, such as calming down a dog who’s been scared by a loud sound or during grooming and vet visits.

Healthy Paws Herbal Labs is another product that shares the same thought. This innovative pet health brand was founded by experienced (human) herbalist, Dr. Kyle Burton in 2016. Dr. Burton had seen first-hand the transformative effects of herbal extract on his brother’s pet dog Zoey, who had been struggling with intense allergies and itching that had not been remedied with conventional medicines. Through Dr. Burton’s formula, a blend of traditional Chinese medicine, Zoey improved significantly.

Photo: Anabel DFlux

Fast-forward to 2019 when Michael and Serge Habicht met Dr. Burton. Impressed with the effectiveness of his formulas, the two teamed up with him to bring these holistic, natural remedies to pet owners all over the world. The three worked together to create an expansive product line of over twelve herbal formulas and packaging for the products, as well as to raise funds for pet charities. To take their commitment to pets even further, Healthy Paws Herbal Labs initiated the “New Pet Parent Kit” program in partnership with dog rescues. For each product purchased, they donate a “New Pet Parent Kit” to rescues in the US, providing even more pets the benefits of natural remedies.

Photo: Anabel DFlux

Food brands such as JustFoodForDogs and Ollie also made appearances, encouraging the feeding of fresh food over kibble. Ollie was a rather unique brand to begin with, custom-designing a formula for your pup based on a questionnaire the owner fills out. The formula will change as the dog begins to change (such as an adjustment in the dog’s activity level or their age), accommodating your pet’s changing needs. As a subscription service, Ollie also keeps meal planning a thing of the past as the food is delivered fresh to the front door. Supplement company HAPPYBOND also fits in well with the fresh pet food trend, offering collagen and other important supplements that can be added to any meal. Having won the 2023 Pet Care Innovation award from Purina, this science-backed company is aiming to make a sincere improvement in dogs all over the world.

Some unique vendors were also present during this preview day, including the “Spleash”. Created by Kerry and Katherine, a mother-daughter duo, the Spleash combines the features of a traditional water gun with a leash handle. It easily carries a water reservoir that can be triggered to spray refreshing droplets on your dog, keeping them hydrated during the long walks and providing relief from the sweltering heat, or become a water bowl! Kerry’s idea came about one summer day as she was out for a walk with her beloved dog in the hot California sun.

The Pet Health Expo is an invaluable experience and an excellent reminder of the importance of proper pet health and care. As pet owners, it’s up to us to do our best to ensure the well-being of our beloved animals. I would definitely recommend that anyone who loves their pet to take the opportunity to attend the next Pet Health Expo and get educated about their furry friend’s well-being!

The Year of the Rabbit

By understanding the care that rabbits need to thrive, adopters can enjoy a wonderful companion for years to come.

At San Diego Humane Society, animal sheltering is about more than just cats and dogs. The organization cares for a wide range of animals, including neonate kittens, senior dogs with medical needs, horses and pigs, baby hummingbirds—even bobcats, bears, and a resident pygmy hippo.


This year in particular, the spotlight is shining on small pets. According to Lunar New Year, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. Last year alone, more than 550 rabbits were adopted from San Diego Humane Society. These fantastically floppy-eared friends make wonderful companions for adopters willing to meet their unique needs.

Although most folks think of rabbits as soft, quiet pets, they also come with plenty of intelligence and personality. Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, come when called, and even run agility courses! And there are few things quite as cute as a rabbit “binkying”—the term for a happy rabbit’s tendency to jump and twist in the air.

What often surprises people most about rabbits is that they generally do not enjoy being held. So, despite their fantastically soft fur, they are ideal for adopters who aren’t really looking for a lap pet. But just like dogs and cats, rabbits often welcome affection from their humans and communicate through body language. By understanding the care that helps rabbits thrive, adopters can enjoy a wonderful companion for years to come.


Fred and Gray are two bunnies with very different backgrounds who are now spending the Year of the Rabbit in loving homes. Fred, a mature Florida White rabbit, was found as a stray by San Diego Humane Officers and spent more than 365 days in care. Although Fred’s background is unclear, he was extremely fearful of humans and had never learned to use a litter box. Fred needed time and patience, and San Diego Humane Society was committed to giving him the second chance he deserved.

Fred was placed in a foster home where, after a week of one-on-one attention, he no longer felt threatened around human hands. Once he slowly grew comfortable, this sweet boy enjoyed having his head scratched. Given time, he also learned to use the litter box! With patience and love, Fred gradually grew into a calm and collected bunny and—after more than a year—he was finally adopted.


Gray is a sweet, 1-year-old American rabbit who was surrendered after being the class pet at a preschool, where she delighted children every day. When the preschool permanently closed, San Diego Humane Society was able to give Gray a second chance. She spent time in the on-site nursery, where caregivers fell in love with her sweet spirit and mellow temperament. Luckily, she was adopted within two months. Her new family is experienced with bunnies, and she even has a new fur sibling (and a human one, too)!

This year, hundreds of rabbits like Fred and Gray will have a brighter future. In addition to finding loving homes for rabbits, San Diego Humane Society offers services to keep owned rabbits in the community healthy and safe, including vaccines, microchips, and vouchers for spay or neuter services. For more tips about caring for pet rabbits, visit sdhumane.org.

Facts About Rabbits

Weight: 2 to 20 pounds, depending on breed Lifespan: 7 to 10 years

■ Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, come when called, and even run agility courses.

■ Rabbits make wonderful companions for savvy adopters.

■ Most rabbits don’t enjoy being held, so pay attention to their preferences. If they don’t enjoy being handled, only pick up your rabbit when it is necessary. Support their hind legs so they don’t kick out and injure themselves.

■ “Bunny proof” your home and provide supervised exercise time to prevent rabbits from chewing on furniture and electrical cords.

■ Rabbits need space to make at least three hops. An indoor 4 ft. by 4 ft. exercise space is the minimum recommended size.

■ Just like dogs and cats, rabbits show how they’re feeling with their body language. Don’t approach a rabbit who is lunging, thumping, or grunting.

■ Pet rabbits should be spayed or neutered and vaccinated against Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) once each year.

The Ins and Outs of Pet Travel

We’re planning to take Bow on vacation later this year, so we figured a road-test to San Francisco was a solid start.

The trip was like the city: ups, downs, wayward and wacky, great sport.

The drive went well, for the most part. And that other part? Bow’s bladder and bowels cared not a whit about our best-laid plans, which called for three breaks at rest stops off the 5, 152, and 101. At those stops, she was as suspicious as a CSI detective. Her wingman—me (or was I her assistant?)—would have to be as patient as an elephant.

And flexible. Can’t go at Coalinga? We’ll try 30 miles up the road.

Photo courtesy Reagan Cheong

In the Bayshore neighborhood where we stayed, Bow warmed up to a Rottweiler named Toby and a 13-year-old Papillon who was as charming as your favorite granddad—and just as hard of hearing.

At Fisherman’s Wharf, Bow was a living, breathing vacuum. We used the “Leave it” command about 212 times. Maybe more. Nearby Ghirardelli Square proved a better option. It’s a little fiefdom of dogs. There’s a YAPS store that sells dog clothing, accessories and harnesses, among other items. And folks rave above Fairmont Heritage Place hotel, which allows two pets per room for a fee of $75 per stay.

The main lawn of the Presidio inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a social hub for pups. From there, we walked the California Coastal Trail, which offers sweeping, stunning views. If you’re interested in native wildlife, the Tennessee Hollow Trail might be a go-to. And other flourishing trails and stop-in-your-tracks views can be found all along the Pacific’s edge.

John Steinbeck’s golden city, with its “evening fog rolled like herds of sheep coming to cote,” was grimacingly cold. Days in the low 50s, nights in the low 40s. We made sure Bow was warm and dry after outings in the wet winds. For more on keeping your pet warm on those chilly evenings at the beach, see our “Winter Beach Tips,” on page 7 of our winter 2023 issue: https://bit.ly/PCMtravelHB.

Bow’s potty paranoia persisted throughout the trip. We didn’t get much sleep and I’ll leave it at that.

It was a lively three days.

We’re planning another getaway in July.

Our first thought: a cruise to Alaska—but that’s not going to happen. There are some pet-friendly cruises, but, for obvious reasons, there aren’t many pet-centered options in that travel genre.

So we’re not going west. East of our home in Orange County is desert. South is Mexico. The compass has made its general point: North it is! The possibilities are endless.

Pet travel is evolving. More hotels, restaurants and the like are building pet-friendly services into their business models. People and their pets are trekking around the country—even the globe—in a way we’ve never seen. Pet-friendly vacations are a thing, and they’re here to stay.

If you’re a pet owner, you’ve got more opportunities than ever. You’ll find many useful resources online at bit.ly/PCM_Travel, such as, “Safe Travels: Road Tripping With Your Pet.” Another useful site was gopetfriendly.com. Both give practical tips on RV traveling, retreats with elderly pets and pet-friendly cities, like Bend, Oregon, home of the famous wiener dog races.

Photo courtesy Reagan Cheong

There’s something to be said for the warmth and good routines of home, among the hills and horsetails of Fullerton. But it only lasted so long before we started talking about our next adventure. British Columbia? Seattle? The Oregon Coast? We settled on Half Moon Bay, sandwiched between the place we’d just been and Monterey.

Earlier this year, the Bomb Storm whipped up 50-foot waves at Mavericks Beach, but things have settled. Dogs are allowed on Poplar and Surfers Beaches. There’s an 11-mile, dog-friendly coastal trail for hiking. There’s a dog park. Plenty of restaurants offer patio dining that accommodates pets. And why not give Bow the continental treatment at the Ritz Carlton?

Longer term, we’ll travel the country. Rural outbacks, towns no bigger than the Hollywood Bowl, and Depression-era diners with no-nonsense waitresses.

It’s what Steinbeck did in 1960. In a three-quarter-ton truck. We’ll take a minivan. He took Charley, his French poodle. We’ll go with Bow, a 64-pound labradoodle. He said, “A dog, particularly an exotic like Charley, is a bond between strangers.” I’ll never write anything that poignant, but I know the bond, and how seeing and experiencing new things together strengthens it.

Travel Tips

• Secure pets in a crate or use another restraint option, like a pet seatbelt.

• Always secure them in the back seat—the front airbag can be deadly.

• Do not allow your pet to hang out the window. Debris could hit and injure them. They could also fall out or, if you stop suddenly, it could result in a severe injury.

• Do not turn around or reach behind you to pet or interact with your pet.

• If you suspect your pet is experiencing a pet emergency, pull over, park, and then tend to your pet.

• Prevent choking accidents by saving the treats and toys for after you reach your destination.

• Map out rest stops so that your pet can stretch out and do their business.

• Always secure your pet with a leash before leaving the car.

• Designate luggage/bags for your pets. It’s easier to find what they need, and less likely to get lost along the way.

Life is Good -For Animal Samaritans Rescue Kittens, Bear, Teddy, and Gray

Photo Courtesy Animal Samaritans

As some readers may remember, Animal Samaritans rescued three sick kittens from North Shore in September 2022—Bear, Teddy, and Gray. All had health issues, including eye and respiratory infections. My family and I have been the lucky foster family for those three kittens, and we, along with everyone at Animal Samaritans, are excited to report that, so far, two of them have been adopted! On October 23rd, Animal Samaritans hosted its 3rd Kitten/Cat Adoption Event at Petco Palm Springs. Bear and Teddy were both healthy enough to attend, and thanks to this partnership, Bear met his forever family. As soon as Bear was in the arms of his now-owner, he melted in his arms. Without a doubt, we knew he was going to be loved and cared for forever. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Teddy’s day to go. As their foster mom, I’d wished for Teddy and Bear to go together, since they were attached to one another. Then again, I was worried about Gray’s health, which was still in question, and the impact being without both his brothers would have on him. The decision was out of my hands, though, when Teddy developed a bit of nose discharge again, along with one watery eye. While he wasn’t bothered by it, I knew he’d need medication again to treat his symptoms.

Bear’s adoption. Inset: Bear when rescued in September.
Bear’s adoption. Inset: Bear when rescued in September. Photo Courtesy Animal Samaritans

Meanwhile, Teddy and Gray continued to play at our house nonstop, chasing each other up and down the kitten trees, taking naps together, grooming each other, and growing healthier each day. Gray had another exam with the ophthalmologist in December 2022. His doctor was very pleased to see his improvement and advised that he continue his medication for another two months then revisit the idea of trimming only one inner eyelid to improve his sight.

Teddy’s adoption. Inset: Teddy when rescued in September.
Teddy’s adoption. Inset: Teddy when rescued in September. Photo Courtesy Animal Samaritans

Teddy spent Christmas and New Year’s at our house with Gray, but the time came for us to take Teddy to Animal Samaritans’ No-Kill Animal Shelter/Adoption Center—he was ready to find his new forever family! Teddy entered the shelter on January 6, 2023, as an available kitten. I visited him daily that week, since it was a tough choice to allow him to be adopted instead of keeping him. He’d really won our hearts. We knew he was an wonderful kitten, and he’d be a great addition to any family. After little more than a week, on January 15th, Teddy was adopted by a family with two children. Way to go, Teddy!

Gray is healing and will be ready for adoption soon.
Gray is healing and will be ready for adoption soon. Photo Courtesy Animal Samaritans

Surprisingly, Gray hasn’t shown a sad day without his brothers, and he continues to play, climb, meow for wet food, and rub his face against mine. He’s made it his mission to be loved by our three big cats who, after all, lived here first—and sure enough, they’re falling for his charisma. It’ll be even harder to say goodbye to Gray when he’s fully healthy and ready for adoption.

It has been my pleasure to foster Bear, Teddy, and Gray. And as hard as it is to say goodbye, I know that more sick kittens will soon need my help, and I can’t keep them all if I want to keep helping the ones who need me.

If you’d like become a foster volunteer, visit animalsamaritans.org and click on the Volunteer tab. Click on the Volunteer Application Form to fill it out online. To help us rescue more kittens like Gray and his siblings, please donate to the Animal Samaritans Feline Fund.

Animal Samaritans has adopted out 9 cats and kittens through its partnership with Petco Palm Springs, over three adoption events. This store continues to support Animal Samaritans with donations of food and other items.

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