Pet Foster Series: Dogs with Puppies

If you have been following this series of blogs, welcome back! We have been talking about types of cats and kittens that require foster care, and now we will move into dogs and puppies. Dogs and puppies are a bit different than cats in terms of requirements, time commitment, and space needed. Puppies can be a lot of work, but if you are up for it; it will be a very fulfilling experience.

Most puppies arrive at the shelter still in utero. It is slightly less common to find puppies without their mothers until they are more than a few weeks old. Female dogs have incredible maternal instincts, and it would take something huge for them to leave their puppies. Therefore, you will most likely come across a pregnant pup or a mother who has already given birth to her puppies. In both cases, they will need your help through foster care.

Image via @caitiesfosterfam on Instagram – She is a foster based out of Houston and is amazing, check her out!

General Expectations

A mom and her puppies will need their own space that has a closed door and is large enough for her to move around. Mother dogs are very protective and will need space away from any other pets or children in the home. This is for the safety of all involved. You can still foster if you have small children, but you will need to make sure the child can not enter the room on their own, ie. by opening a door or knocking over a gate.

Puppies will need to be fed and potty trained as they get older, and will need fresh air every once in a while. Puppies should be kept away from other pets in the home for their first few weeks, as they are extremely susceptible to illnesses diseases. You will also need to make sure they are getting proper veterinary care and vaccinations as needed.

Time Commitment

Depending on the size and breed of the puppies, they will be spayed and neutered around 10-12 weeks of age and will have reached a certain weight. For larger breed dogs, it is about 3 pounds. If you have a pregnant dog in your care, keep in mind that the care could be 12 weeks long, plus the amount of time before she gives birth.

When the puppies are born, it is important to ensure that they are all latching throughout the day, they are gaining weight, and mom is tending to each one. This does require a steady time commitment to ensure all the puppies are healthy. Once the puppies start growing up and walking around, they will need to be potty trained, fed, and taught manners. This is a big time commitment.

Supplies Needed

As mentioned above, a closed space is best for a mother dog and her puppies. This space would preferably be an empty or guest bedroom, a large bathroom with a door, or even a large empty closet with a door. You will need plenty of puppy pads, blankets and towels for comfort, and plenty of food and water. I have also found, through research, that velcro collars or other tracking methods help keep a chart for each puppies’ growth.

You will also need a lot of cleaning supplies as puppies can be very messy. You will need a scale that can adequately take the weight of each puppy. You will also need a yard, or some sort of ‘bathroom’ area, for the puppies to be potty trained. It is also a good idea to keep a lot of toys and enrichment activities on hand for the puppies as they get older and are learning to play – this will help protect your feet, hands, and furniture!

Conclusion

In conclusion, puppies and their mothers can be a very rewarding experience to foster but they are a lot of work. These animals will be best in a home where someone is there to check in on and take care of them. In their first few weeks of life, it is less often, but as the puppies get older, they will need a lot of care to become dogs ready for their forever homes.

If you are a stay-at-home parent, you are retired, or someone who works from home – these animals would be a great fit! They are a joy to have around and you will feel extremely fulfilled when they are adopted out into their forever homes. If you are not quite ready for this commitment, but you want to foster dogs, subscribe to my blog for more on adult dogs that need care!

Pet Foster Series: Ringworm Kittens

Welcome back! If you are coming from my previous blog post, we are moving on to fostering kittens (and sometimes cats) who have ringworm. Ringworm is the most common infectious skin disease in cats, but it is highly manageable. Ringworm can spread from cats to humans, as well as other animals in the home. This blog intends to educate you on the care required for cats with ringworm, not to scare you. Hopefully, this information will help you decide if this type of foster animal is a good fit for your home.

General Expectations

Kittens with ringworm need just as much if more love than any other foster kitten. If you think of all the time you love on and play with healthy kittens, don’t you think kittens that have contracted ringworm deserve that treatment as well? You should expect a kitten that still wants love and attention. They may be shy at first, especially if they were separated from their siblings or were found outside. Be patient with these kittens as they are so deserving of your love and care.

You will need an isolated space to keep this kitten as ringworm can spread through contaminated animals, objects, or the environment. You will need to take proper precautions and implement daily cleaning to ensure the ringworm does not spread any more. Ringworm kittens will still need regular weight checks, proper feeding schedules, and litter training and cleaning.

Medical Expectations

Cats and kittens that have contracted ringworm have been through testing to find out that they have ringworm. One of the most simple tests is to use a blacklight. The ringworm spores will shine bright unless they are new or small, and it may take a few days to show. I keep a blacklight in my foster supplies and check every animal that comes into my home in case any ringworm spores weren’t seen at the clinic.

Depending on the age of the kitten, treatment will consist of medicated baths, topical creams, and oral medication. When a kitten is too young or weak, they do not receive oral treatment, as it is too harsh on their bodies. Oral treatment stops any new ringworm from forming and controls existing spores. Cats of all ages receive medicated baths that help control the spores that the kitten has currently. Most of the time, the kitten will get used to the baths pretty quickly, and it is smooth sailing from there. I also use Lotrimin after the medicated baths on the individual spores; this can help reduce the spore size and help with itchiness.

Time Commitment

Kittens with ringworm do require slightly more time commitment than one without. You will need to plan for medicated baths every three days, and the medication needs to sit on the skin for 10 minutes. At this time, you will need to keep the kitten warm, and when the time is up, thoroughly rinse and dry them. Previously when I had had a ringworm kitten, I placed a clean kennel in a warm location for the kitten to wait 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I quickly cleaned their area and replaced all blankets and towels for sanitization.

My suggestion would be to plan an extra thirty minutes a day for a kitten with ringworm. This time may vary on the number of kittens, the health of the kitten(s), and any issues that the kitten may have as well. I clean their area and all lines once a day. The cleaner their space is, the quicker they can fight off the ringworm infection. Any items that may have been exposed to ringworm need to be properly cleaned after use. This prevents future foster animals, or yourself, to contract ringworm.

Supplies Needed

Kittens with ringworm are highly contagious. Depending on your comfort with ringworm will depend on how isolated you may want your foster space to be. I kept my ringworm foster in a hall bathroom; there was no carpet, which made sanitization faster, and it did not put my other animals at risk to contract. If you do not have any animals in the home, you may still want to keep the kittens isolated if you are worried about contracting ringworm. I have had ringworm spores myself, and as long as they are caught quickly and treated, it was not very bothersome to me.

You will need to create a safe and comfortable space for the kitten, as you would any other kitten. The difference is the linen needs to be properly disinfected with bleach or a peroxide solution. I always keep plenty of blankets and towels on hand and run dirty laundry through the wash twice in hot water and bleach. You will also need regular kitten supplies: wet and dry food, a low water dish, non-clumping litter, and a litter box. It is also a good idea to give the kitten plastic toys for playtime – they are easy to sanitize and therefore can be used for other foster kittens.

Conclusion

Kittens with ringworm may be a bigger commitment than you are ready for right now, and that is OK. The best thing you can do is educate yourself, and if you change your mind, your help will always be needed! In my opinion, ringworm kittens do require more time commitment than other kittens, but it is still completely doable. Planning for bath time and daily sanitization will keep you on schedule and be best for the kittens health. If you are worried about you, or those in your home contracting ringworm, I would recommend reading up on the infection and deciding if it is something you are willing to risk.

If you have any questions or would like more information on fostering a ringworm kitten, please reach out to me at kaelinleavitt@gmail.com. I have had awesome experiences with my ringworm fosters (pictured below) and I would love others to not be afraid as well. Let me know in the comments if this article was helpful!

Pet Foster Series: Adult Cats

There are many different situations in which an adult cat will be placed in a foster home. Please keep in mind that there are many more reasons than I will share in this blog, so keep an open mind, and ask plenty of questions! Adult cats may be placed in a foster home due to: An injury they need support recovering from, an illness that they need help controlling, they are too stressed in the shelter environment, socialization, or they are a hospice foster needing a cozy place to call home at the end of their lives.

My foster cat who was very stressed in the shelter and needed a few weeks of TLC.

Injury

Common injuries that street cats may be recovering from are broken limbs or open wounds from humans or other animals. Most of the time, the rescue organization will intake the animal, provide the necessary veterinary care, choose foster care, and place them in a home. The foster home is there to provide support to the animals through love, food, and monitoring of the injury.

If a cat has a broken leg, it will most like be on some sort of activity constraints for the injury to heal. You, as the foster parent, will keep them calm, and in a confined space, for them to heal. You will provide proper nutrition and any necessary medication. Most likely, if the animal needs bandages replaced, check-ups, or more care, you will bring them to the clinic. You are most likely not required to provide any form of veterinary care. These cases could range from a week to a few months of care. Depending on the injury, they may be a great temporary addition to your home!

Illness

Cats can succumb to a multitude of illnesses, especially if they are living on the streets or older. They can have skin conditions, diabetes, upper respiratory infection, etc. It is also common for older cats to have dental issues. This could range from healing tooth extractions to dental disease. Depending on the condition, the cat will most likely need medication, soft food, and basic health monitoring for any signs they are not recovering well.

Cats in these situations may not be feeling well and therefore not up for meeting someone new. They could be shy and distant at first, but once they realize you are there to help and nurture them, they usually open up to your love pretty quickly. Keep in mind that ANY animal you are fostering requires a two-week quarantine period from any others in the home, but this rule is especially important for animals that are already sick. You wouldn’t want your foster animal to give any illness to your resident animal or vice versa!

Stress

Another reason where an adult cat would be placed in a foster home is stress. Sometimes when animals are too stressed, they stop eating and drinking water and lose hair weight, which can lead to worse or even fatal complications. Some animals need a little bit of TLC in a comfortable and loving home in order to be ready for adoption. Most of the time, these animals will be slightly shy to begin, but really, they just want a lot of love and relaxation! These are great foster animals if you are looking for a short-term companion or would like to show a stressed-out animal some love!

Socialization

Cats can be socialized for a short stint of time, but there are instances where socialization is absolutely necessary for the survival of the animal. From birth to about three months old is the ideal time to socialize a cat. They are still young enough to be taught that humans are not always big, bad, and scary. Some rescues may choose to try and socialize older cats for the sake of their health and safety, but there are larger risks involved.

If a cat has been taken into foster care but cannot be properly socialized, it cannot be released back outdoors. They will now need to be adopted out into a barn cat type of program. These programs ensure that the animal has someone to feed them and check on their wellness, even though the cat may never want to spend time with them or be in a home. For someone who likes a challenge, socialization cats are a great opportunity to bring a cat from hissy to kissy!

Hospice

Hospice cats can be struggling with many issues such as older age of renal failure. Hospice fosters are not for the faint of heart. When taking in a foster cat, you are aware that their time here on earth is limited and they need a comfy and loving home to spend the rest of their days. I call hospice fosters our rescue angels because they are taking on the grief and loss of an animal, just to provide them comfort at the end of life. If you are feeling like one of these amazing people, this is a great way to show animal love in the time they have left. I have not had a hospice foster in my home yet as I am not emotionally prepared for that yet but I hope that one day I am!

Conclusion

As you now know, there are plenty of reasons an adult cat may need a foster home to take them in and care for them. Some situations are easier than others but for the most part, they are not very time-consuming. They just need love, food, a cozy home, and sometimes medical care! If you are interested in fostering felines but are not ready for the time commitment (and mess!) of a kitten, there are plenty of adult cats available for foster care. If you are interested in foster kittens, my previous four blogs are a great place to start. My next blog will be on fostering a ringworm cat – subscribe to learn more!