Budget Friendly Tips for Your New Rescue

If you have decided to give a dog a second chance by rescuing them from a dog shelter or rescue group, good for you! Not only can you feel great about the choice you made to save a life, your new family member knows you gave them a second chance.

It is tempting to rush to the store and fill the cart with every new toy you can find to make sure that your new dog feels welcome and loved. Hey, if you have an unlimited budget, go for it!

However, for many of us, a new pet can be a little more expensive than we had anticipated. In order to be sure you have the finances for the initial and ongoing costs associated with dog ownership, you may want to be conservative on that initial spending spree.

Here are some tips to help you make sure that your new dog won’t end up costing more than you can afford:

Crate Training

Consider crate training your dog as soon as you bring them home. If using a crate is the new “normal,” your dog is likely to quickly adjust to using a crate. This means you can leave them home alone while you go to work, right from the start.

A crate not only provides your dog with a space that feels safe to call their own, it will also keep them from getting into trouble chewing on furniture, drywall or getting into other dangers while they adjust to their new surroundings. It also keeps you from having to replace furniture or other items – a completely unnecessary expense of dog ownership.

You can get a used crate pretty cheaply online if a new one is out of your price range. Just make sure to take it outside and thoroughly clean it with 1/10 bleach/water solution to disinfect before use. Fill it with clean, soft stuff like old towels and blankets for a welcoming and safe cubby hole your new dog will appreciate.

Affordable Food – Not Cheap Food

There is a difference between quality dog food at a decent price, and cheap dog food that is of very low quality. It is important to be able to tell the difference since saving a few bucks a month now is not worth the long term medical costs of poor nutrition.

There are a few things to look for to make sure the diet you will feed your dog is both in your price range, and good for them:

Real meat (not meat or poultry by-product) is the first ingredient
Try to avoid corn, soy, or wheat as top ingredients
Look for the AAFCO seal of approval for nutritionally balanced food
Look for manufacturing in the USA, and evidence of responsible ingredient sourcing

DIY Toys

It is important that your new addition to the home has some toys to call their own. However, you do not need to break the bank with the top of the line gear right away. Instead, get a sense for what kinds of things your new buddy is into with some cheaper versions or DIY toys, and save your investment for primo gear once you really know what they love.

Here are some tips on some toys your dog doesn’t even know are free:

Blue jean leg cut lengthwise and tied in 2 knots for a great tug toy.
Tennis balls are free if you find them discarded at the tennis courts. Your dog does not care if they are flat.
Large plastic bottle with some holes cut in it just bigger than their kibble for a fun food dispenser.
Sticks. Before there were dog toy stores, dogs apparently loved these things!
Pupsicle. Get a stainless-steel bowl, fill half with water, freeze, layer some treats or kibble, add more water and freeze again. Layer as many times as you want for a great outside hydrating and cooling edible toy for a hot day.

Veterinary Costs

Responsible pet ownership does require vaccines, spay/neuter and annual wellness visits. Fortunately, if you rescued your dog from a shelter or volunteer rescue groups, it is likely that they may offer some vouchers or special programs to help make these costs more affordable.

Make sure to talk to the people where you rescued your dog from to let you know about financial help they can offer on the necessary costs of health for your pet. They are likely also “in the loop” about special low-income vet programs that may be operating in your area.

Consider Fostering

If you are not quite sure if you can afford responsible pet ownership yet, you should consider researching the foster groups in your area. In many cases, these foster organizations are willing to pay for things like veterinary care, pet sitting, bedding and in some cases even the food for the foster dogs in their program.

This is a way to get involved in helping a dog find their second chance in life, without taking on more financial responsibility than you can handle. If you have a stable home that allows pets, and a schedule that will give them the time and love they deserve, fostering may be a great choice for you!

Everything You Need To Know Before Getting A Pet Parrot

Owning a parrot is very rewarding. However, as any parrot owner knows there is a lot more to ownership than meets the eye.

colorful parrot

ExoticDirect insurers of exotic pets have compiled a 12 point checklist offering some handy advice and guidance.

How big should your parrot’s cage be?

Your parrots cage should be as large as possible. The diameter should be at least twice the wing span of both wings when stretched open, and the height should be at least one and half times the height of the bird, from head to tip of the tail.

Where should you keep your parrot’s cage?

Locate your parrot’s cage in an area where your parrot likely to receive lots of family interaction, but not get startled.

All parrots need stimulation, and whenever left alone in the house, a radio or tv left on is always worth considering for this purpose. You should avoid locating your bird near a kitchen due to the increased risk of exposure to toxic fumes.

Entertainment and toys for your birds

Provide your bird with entertainment and toys. Parrots are intelligent birds, and can be prone to psychological disorders if they become bored. Ensure the toys you buy do not have parts that can be removed, will not get tangled around your bird, and are not toxic.

Register with a specialist avian vet – pronto!

Whether you’ve just bought your parrot, or whether you’ve owned your parrot for years, you should register with an Avian vet.

Traditional ‘cat and dog’ treating vets often won’t treat exotics, and sadly referral fees can be high. Referral fees occur because the vet you’ve been referred to may charge you a higher rate as they also need to report findings back to the original vet you saw. This is an unnecessary cost for you, which can be avoided.

Purchase pet insurance.

Should your parrot become poorly, the last thing you want to be worrying about is escalating vet fees. It’s a worrying time, and you just want your bird to be better.

Birds are very sensitive to fumes

Birds are very sensitive to fumes. Exposure to Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fumes, more commonly known as Teflon can be fatal. It is often used on non-stick cookware. When PTFE is over-heated, it can break down, causing fumes which are highly toxic to parrots.

….And smells

Other common household items can also be toxic to birds. This includes perfumes, deodorants and room scents. Careful research should be conducted before bringing items into the home.

Your parrot’s diet

Your parrot’s diet should include a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat. You should never just rely on parrot pellets from the pet shop.

You should fully research the food that parrots can eat. Some foods can be toxic, for example chocolate and avocado.

Perches for your parrot

You should provide natural perches inside your parrot’s cage, in order to enable your bird to flex its feet. Fruit or sycamore branches are recommended by experts like the Parrot Society.

CITES regulation and parrots:

Some parrot species are listed on Annex A of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). If listed on Annex A, the vendor should hold, by law, an Article 10 certificate and the bird should be rung with a closed ring or be microchipped.

Microchip and ensure your bird is rung

Parrots can easily escape, or at worst, be stolen. By ensuring your bird is rung, or microchipped, you are providing evidence that your bird is yours. The details can help reunite you with your bird, should it be lost or stolen.

You should record the identification details, and keep them in a safe place. The Parrot Passport designed by the Parrot Society is a great place to keep the information. You should also keep pictures of your bird, especially of unique identifiable features.

If your bird is lost or stolen you can contact the National Theft Register for lost and found animals run by John Hayward – this central database logs the information of lost pets, and can be vital in helping to reunite lost pets with owners.

Buyer beware!

If you’re buying a parrot, ensure you know its history. Ask whether the bird has had any previous illnesses or temperament issues, and ask about previous owners.

If the bird has had multiple owners, it could mean that those owners have had problems with the bird.

Or sadly, as a result of multiple ownership the bird may have developed psychological issues. Bird’s are very sensitive, and bond with their owners. Multiple owners could affect the bird’s mental health, resulting in potential physical problems.

This checklist is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of parrot care information. With the right knowledge, love, care and attention you and your parrot should have a long and happy life together.

Puppy Proofing Your Home: Everything You Should Know

Puppies are arguably one of the cutest things on the planet, but they also come along with a great deal of intrigue that comes from a natural sense of curiosity and a sense of exploration. Just like toddlers, they’re “into” practically everything they come across on their level. So similar to older infants, it’s important to puppy proof your home in some of the very same ways as you would for a toddler.

When it comes to the Labradoodle breed specifically, they have a natural love for water so often standing liquid like inside toilet bowls can be problematic. Keeping the lid on the bowl and door to the bathroom closed at all times might do the trick, but you could invest a small amount of cash into a toddler-proof latch or other device just in case one forgets one of these measures.

Safe Spaces

Just like closing the bathroom door, all the doors to interior rooms and especially those that lead outdoors should be closed and latched at all times. Think about getting spring type hinges for doors that lead to outside spaces so they will automatically close and latch behind you. Still always keep a close eye when you enter and exit the premises because little puppies can be quick and sneaky when it comes to escaping … think Houdini hound!

Strings And Cords

Electrical outlet covers are also a good idea for curious pups who could get quite the shock when sniffing one of these open, unused outlets with their wet snout. Accompanying electrical cords can be especially problematic for puppies who will chew on practically anything and everything. Be sure to go around the house and tape down any of these exposed cords to keep them out of harm’s way.

Window treatments, especially blinds, often have cords that reach down to the floor. Besides the fact your little pooch may chew these to ribbons, they also pose a significant choking hazard for both children and pets. While some solutions are in the works for this dilemma, it’s best to keep these tied up out of the reach of animals and small kids.

Garbage And Other Toxic Substances

If you keep garbage uncovered, like underneath the kitchen sink, again you should invest in some childproof cupboard latches. Many homeowners also store detergents and other toxins in this same spaces, so be wise and get a device to keep them out of these areas. Any type of medicines, detergents, insecticides, any and all other types of toxic substances should always be stored safely and out of their reach.

Food And Plants

We all know better than to feed our animals things like chocolate, but there’s a huge list (available from the Humane Society) of other foods that can be toxic or even deadly for dogs. Play it safe and keep all human foods away from your pets and out of their reach. Houseplants may seem harmless enough, but many of them could have flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, roots or other parts that may be poisonous if ingested.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you believe something in your home could cause injury or illness for your puppy, put it away, get rid of it or take some kind of safety precautions. Don’t take a chance on their safety or health in order to ensure they’ll have a long, happy and healthy life with you.

Author bio:
Born in Chicago and raised in Boston, Jenn Johnson is a journalist and a freelance writer. She completed her PhD in Journalism from Northwestern University. You’ll find this pet enthusiast and freelance journalist living happily with her husband, three kids and their two beloved dogs, Thunder and Lightning in the Back Bay area of Massachusetts, just outside Boston.

10 Fun Facts About Parrots

10 Fun Facts About Parrots by James Alston writing for ExoticDirect pet insurance.

1. There are nearly 400 species of parrot
There are 393 species of parrots (though more are being found all the time). Parrots also like the heat with most being found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Asia, Central and South America and Africa.

However, some parrots do live outside tropical environments. The Kea is the world’s only alpine parrot, living in New Zealand and nesting in the roots of trees.
The Maroon-Fronted parrot, meanwhile, lives in the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains of Mexico, sometimes nesting in limestone cliffs as high as 3,500 metres. Don’t look down!

The Maroon-Fronted parrot is also endangered, with perhaps as few as 2,500 still living in the wild.

2. Parrots can mimic humans – but some know more than you think
We’ve all seen videos of parrots saying hello and copying the things their owners say. But did you know that some budgies have vocabularies of up to 2,000 words?
There is even debate within the intellectual world as to whether parrots have a cognitive understanding of the things they say.

Alex, a famous African grey parrot, had a vocabulary of about 100 words. However, some studies showed he could tell the difference between small and larger objects, and could even identify different objects by their shape.

Interestingly, if captive talking parrots are released back into the wild, the rest of their flock can pick up some of their phrases, even if they have not been trained from a young age.
So be careful what you say around parrots – they just might be able to understand what you’re saying!
Own a parrot? Did you know you can get parrot insurance from ExoticDirect pet insurance.

3. And it’s not just human language
Parrots have an intricate system of sounds, shrills and squawks that can tell other parrots things, from warning them of predators to telling them there’s food in the vicinity. (Most parrots don’t have many predators except larger birds of prey. When a parrot is younger though, it may have to watch out for things like snakes and even monkeys.)

Some parrots use their feathers to communicate too. Cockatoos have crests on their heads that they can raise or lower at will.

They use these feathers to communicate with other parrots – for instance, to attract a mate – or to warn off potential predators. Some crests in domesticated parrot species are made from selective breeding or mutations. Also, it’s not totally understood how or why this particular trait has stuck around in domesticated parrots that don’t need a crest, and research into this is common. Perhaps they just love looking glamorous. Who’s a pretty boy, then?

4. Parrots are cleverer than you think too
We’ve seen that many parrots can mimic humans, with some budgies having a vocabulary of up to 2,000 words. However, that’s not all parrots can do!

The Kea parrot has been shown to be particularly intelligent, learning to push and pull certain things in order to get food. Keas can also work together to achieve certain objectives, and have even been observed fashioning tools from sticks in order to experiment with animal traps and get food. Reportedly, some will use pebbles to mash up cockle shells in order to get their calcium.

Keas are known as the ‘clown of the mountains’ because of their cheeky nature. They’ve been observed flying off with unguarded items of clothing and food scraps. So if you’re ever around a Kea, make sure you hide your gear!

5. Not all parrots can fly
Almost all parrots can fly, with some, such as the Hyacinth Macaw, having a wingspan of nearly a metre and a half. The Hyacinth Macaw also reaches lengths of nearly 1.2 metres from head to toe.
However, less well known is the critically endangered Kakapo, sometimes known as the Owl parrot. This flightless bird, the heaviest known parrot, roosts under trees or in the ground, and is nocturnal.
As of June 2016, there were only around 150 Kakapos left. This is mostly due to the introduction of predators into its native New Zealand such as cats and rats.

Kakapos have been studied extensively and have even been filmed for The Life of Birds, a documentary narrated by David Attenborough – and who doesn’t want to listen to him talk?

6. A parrot’s not just for Christmas…
Many people don’t realise, but parrots sometimes live as long as humans. The African Grey parrot, for instance, can live between 50 and 70 years.

One of the oldest parrots, Cookie, a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo, died in August 2016. He was believed to be one of the oldest parrot of his species in captivity, dying at the ripe old age of 83. He was recorded as being the oldest living parrot in the world by the Guinness World Records.

It’s important to bear this in mind if you’re thinking of buying yourself a parrot, as it could be a lifetime commitment. But it means you’ll be able to show it off to your grandkids!

However, often parrots in captivity won’t live quite as long as those in the wild. To help your parrot live out her years, you should make sure she eats a suitable and varied diet, has the right kind of stimulation and exercise, and that your home is safe, comfortable and free from dangers. You should also consider pet insurance, as this can cover unexpected vet fees. ExoticDirect offer a range of policies.

7. One true love
Most parrots are monogamous, meaning they mate with only one partner for their whole lives. These ‘pair bonds’ as they are known are preceded by courtship displays. This means parrots will dance and sing songs in order to win a mate. These mates usually then work together to raise their young.

Only the El Oro parakeet and the Golden parakeet have been shown to exhibit polygamous behaviour. While this means they may take more than one mate, or collectively breed, it also means that multiple females may help each other in raising their young. These parrots know the meaning of teamwork!

Generally, around five eggs are incubated by females for around a month. In monogamous pairings, the mother feeds the young while the father brings them food.

8. Problem child
Though most parrots lay between two and seven eggs, some lay just one, like the Palm Cockatoo.
These parrots are known to have particular trouble breeding. One study followed the Palm Cockatoo for nearly three years, and observed that 81% of nests didn’t produce any young. Meaning that there was only a 19% breeding success rate in nests.

The study suggested that this was because these parrots are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment. They have even been referred to as the giant pandas of parrots because of the trouble they have breeding. Just as cute, but with feathers!

9. Feral parrot populations
In the mid to late 20th century, a number of escaped Rose-Ringed parakeets escaped from captivity and started a population in the south of England, mostly in London.

Even now, if you go to Crystal Palace Park or Hampstead Heath, you can see Rose-Ringed parakeets sitting in trees! These parrots have adapted to a life in an environment extremely different from their natural habitat. And it’s not just in the UK, either; the Rose-Ringed parakeet can be found in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and even Germany, and some have even spread as far as the United States and Lebanon.

So next time you’re walking around London, keep an eye out for one of your colourful friends sitting in a tree.

10. Something that would be useful at the pub
Many parrots have a hinged upper and lower beak. This means that both mandibles can move, rather than like in us humans – we only have a lower mandible that can move.

These powerful beaks are useful for opening seeds, the main diet of parrots. There are probably lots of people out on a Friday night who wish they had this ability.

They also use them for other things, like courting, feeding their young and preening themselves.
Parrots are also one of the only species of bird that moves food to its mouth using its feet. You might have seen a parrot holding a seed with its foot while its lower mandible crushes it in order to get the nutrients inside. Thankfully, humans can just take a vitamin pill.

ExoticDirect offer insurance for a wide range exotic pets, including parrots. If you own an exotic-y pet, why not find out how we can help you?