The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends

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A cold front is on its way to Houston – Are your pets prepared?

The forecast is looking chilly for the Houston area! With temperatures expected to drop we all want to make sure our pets are prepared for the cold weather.


Provide proper shelter for your pet whether indoors or outdoors. Indoor pets should have their bed or crate placed in a safe and warm place that is away from drafts.

Outdoor pets should have a well insulated house that is wind AND waterproof as well as elevated off the ground so wind and moisture cannot find a way inside.

Extra blankets and straw will also help increase your pet’s warmth.

Make sure to keep room and floor heaters away from your pets as they are an obvious fire hazard and could cause serious injuries.

Food & Water

Make sure to provide fresh , clean water for your pets every day. Each pet should always have a fresh water source.

Outdoor pets need to consume 25 – 50% more calories than usual during the winter because the cold weather tends to deplete their energy. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian to find the right food for your pet.


Never leave your pet inside of a car! Cars can act like a refrigerator in the winter and your pet could potentially freeze to death if left alone inside a car during the winter months. Even if you are just going out for a little bit to run errands, leave your pets safely at home.

Also – check under the hood! A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor cats. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage those hiding kitties to abandon their spot under the hood.

When taking care of your car’s winter needs, please remember to store all chemicals properly. Dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze which contains ethylene glycol. A tiny lick can kill your dog or cat, so make sure to check your car for leaks on your driveway and in your garage. Keep containers tightly closed and clean up spills immediately.

Pet Protection

If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him/her outdoors only to relieve himself/herself. Check with your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s tolerance of the cold weather.

For more information about the Houston SPCA, please visit today!


Valentine’s Day Throwback: Houston SPCA tips for a pet safe Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is almost here and the Houston SPCA has the best tips on how to keep your pets safe during this loving holiday!

Head over to our Valentine’s Day pet tips by clicking here:

If you want to add a little bit of extra love to your Valentine’s Day, take a trip to the Houston SPCA to find a new furry friend for your family.

You can see all of our adoptable animals by clicking this link:

Protecting Your Pets: Heartworm Disease

In our newest Humane Education Blog series, ‘Protecting Your Pets,’ we will discuss a variety of issues that all pet owners should be aware of. Keep reading to find out how to best protect your pets!

You have probably heart of heartworms before – they sound rather unpleasant but do you really know how they can affect your pet’s health?


Heartworm disease is a serious, life threatening condition in dogs and a major cause of heart disease in cats. It is caused by the presence of the adult stage of the parasite Dirofilaria immitis in the pulmonary arteries and the right ventricle of the heart.

Sounds serious, right? It most definitely is. Heartworm disease can be fatal for your pet BUT is completely PREVENTABLE!

How is heartworm disease transmitted?

It only takes 1 bite from an infected mosquito to transmit heartworm disease to your pets. And there are 22 different mosquito species in the U.S. that carry heartworms. Once bitten, it can take between 3-6 months for the heartworm microfilariae to reach your pet’s heart. Once there, they mature and begin to reproduce.

Diagnosis of heartworms is by a blood test.  Yearly blood tests are recommended for all dogs and cats including those on preventative medication.

Adult heartworms can grow anywhere between 6-12 inches long and can live in the heart for up to 7 years! Doesn’t sound too nice, does it? It can be a painful experience for your pet with advanced symptoms including: difficulty breathing, coughing, tiring easily, listlessness, weight loss, and fainting. If you think your pet may have heartworms, take him or her to your local veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Heartworm Life Cycle:

Heartworm in dogs is treatable – your dog will be given a series of injections by your veterinarian that will kill the heartworms. As the worms begin to die, they will break up into small pieces which can cause a blockage of the pulmonary vessels and cause death. This is why it is absolutely necessary to keep your pet calm and quiet during heartworm treatment and for the few months after treatment has been administered.

There is no current medication approved for treating heartworm disease in cats. Prevention is absolutely necessary for our feline friends just like Oscar (seen below) !

Remember: Heartworm prevention is much less expensive than treatment. Treatment can cost up to 15X more than a year’s worth of heartworm preventative. You will also be saving your pet from a painful experience by preventing heartworm disease in the first place.

For more information about the Houston SPCA please visit our website:

Sources: American Heartworm Society, VCA Hospitals and



If Your Dog Poops, You Must Scoop!

Today we are talking all about poop – your pet’s poop that is!

Pet waste is smelly, unsightly and a health risk to pets and people, especially children. If a child happens to touch an object that has come in contact with dog feces and then touches their hand to their mouth or eyes, they could become infected with a disease.

Pet waste, if left on trails, sidewalks and grassy areas, can also be washed into the nearest water system when it rains. The bacteria, parasites and viruses in pet waste can harm water quality and anyone who comes in contact with it.

Here are five reasons why you should always SCOOP THE POOP:

  1. To protect your local water quality.
  2. To protect our children from diseases.
  3. To help monitor your dog’s health.
  4. It is part of being a responsible pet owner.
  5. It’s the law!

Section 6-24 from the Houston Department of Health and Human Services states that it is the duty of each person in control of a dog or cat to promptly remove and dispose of, in a sanitary manner, feces left by such dog or cat.

So to all my fellow pet owners out there – let’s do our part to keep the environment clean and community healthy… Let’s scoop that poop!

For more information about the Houston SPCA, head over to our website:

Helping Your Fat Cat Slim Down

Everyone loves a fat cat  – they are big, fluffy furballs that steal our hearts. They have even become famous with celebrities such as Garfield and Pusheen.

However, if your cat is overweight, he or she may be at risk for health problems. According to, overweight and obese cats actually outnumber cats that are normal weight. Overweight cats are also being seen more often by veterinarians and are more likely to have cat diabetes, arthritis and liver disease. Click the Hill’s Science Diet Tips & Tools chart below to see if your pet may be overweight.

Hill's Science Diet Tools

Why are we seeing more and more fat cats?

The answer is simple – any animal will gain weight if it consumes more calories than it burns. Many cats have become comfortable with their owners ‘free choice’ feeding (keeping a food bowl full all day) or giving them lots of delicious treats. While this may keep our cats happy and very full, it can be harmful to their health.

As pet owners, we are the solution to the fat cat problem.

Weight loss plans for your cat should be taken seriously and approached carefully. Any and all changes in diet for your pet should be prescribed by your pet’s veterinarian. You want to make sure that your vet finds your cat’s exact weight,  gives a full physical examination, and does blood and urine sample testing. You do not want to start any sort of new food or feeding regimen without your vet’s approval!


Once your vet has given his or her recommendation for a diet and exercise plan – stick to it!

If your vet has asked that you increase the amount of exercise your cat is getting, the best way to do that is to play with them! You can also add some interactive play toys to your cats environment or even adopt a new friend to play with from your local animal shelter. Getting your cat moving is a great step forward in helping them lose weight.

Your vet may ask you to switch your cat’s food to one with a lower fat content and higher lean protein content. All pet foods have nutrition labels, just like human foods, and you should be paying attention to what is written in the ingredients as well as content percentages.

When we have overweight cats arrive at the Houston SPCA, we feed them Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight to help them shed a few pounds before going home to a new family. We always make sure to feed them the correct amount of food, according to our veterinarians, twice a day to spread out their meals and keep them happy and full all day long. Many of our cats at the shelter love playing with toys and with people which helps them get a bit of exercise as well.

We hope that if you have a fat cat at home that you will help them become slim and trim, with help from your vet, so they can live a long and healthy life!

We would also like to thank Hill’s Science Diet for their amazing contributions to the Houston SPCA which helps keep our animals healthy and happy!

To donate to the Houston SPCA, follow this link: 



Getting to Know Your Houston SPCA: Meet Tara, Vice President of Animal Welfare

Welcome back to our ‘Getting to Know Your Houston SPCA’ series on the Houston SPCA’s Humane Education Blog!

Today, we are interviewing one of the hardest working people I know at the Houston SPCA, our Vice President of Animal Welfare – Tara!

Humane Education Blog: Welcome to the blog, Tara. So glad you could make it! Let’s start with the basics, how long have you worked for the Houston SPCA?

Tara: 5 years.

HEB: That’s awesome! Could you describe what a typical day is like heading our Animal Welfare Department?

Tara: Every day is completely different. There is so much going on all the time. Some days I go out with the rescue team for a large-scale rescue. Other days, I have to go to court to help ensure we are keeping the animals of Houston safe. There are administrative duties that I take care of as well as the animal adoption process. It is part of our mission to make sure the animals we rescue find new, loving homes and are adopted as quickly as possible. I really help with whatever is going on at the shelter that needs me. There is no such thing as a normal day.

HEB: You must always be incredibly busy! What is your favorite part of your day?

Tara: Definitely the surprises. Periodically, I hear someone bringing an animal down the hallway in our offices and it is so much fun to see around the corner and meet the animal that is walking by.

HEB: How does it feel to work for the Houston SPCA?

Tara: It feels amazing to be a part of an organization that changes the lives of animals and humans every day. 

HEB: After a long day at work, what music do you turn on while driving home?

Tara: Anything Bon Jovi. 

HEB: Do you have any pets at home?

Tara: I have an English Bull Dog named Sherman and 4 cats named Max, Sampson, Deacon, and Pudge.

Tara Sherman Blog

Tara Sherman Blog 2

HEB: What is your favorite animal-related book?

Tara: The Velveteen Rabbit or Dewey the Library Cat

HEB: What was the most unusual animal you have worked with at the Houston SPCA?

Tara: Definitely Betsy the bear. I had the amazing opportunity to accompany Betsy on her trip to a wildlife refuge in Romania. 

Betsy Pic 4

HEB: What is your favorite reality animal TV show?

Tara: Animal Cops: Houston. 

HEB: Last question – a very important question – if you were a bear attending a picnic, what would be your ideal sandwich?

Tara: Peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Bear Eats a Sandwich on Make A Gif

Thank you Tara for taking the time to hang out with the Humane Education Blog today! We know you have to get back to making sure that all of the animals at the Houston SPCA are being given the best care possible and we thank you for everything you do.

To help Tara and the Houston SPCA staff take care of sick, injured and orphaned animals, please consider donating today! Just click here.

Are You Ready for the Houston SPCA’s iWalk for Animals 2014?

Fall is on its way to the Houston area which means it is almost time for the Houston SPCA’s iWalk for Animals global event!

2013 iWalk For Animals Banner Ad.jpg

People often ask me, “What is the best way to help the animals that the Houston SPCA rescues?” or “How can I help the Houston SPCA if I don’t live in Houston?”  The best way to give to our animals is to participate in one of our largest events of the year – the Houston SPCA’s iWalk for Animals!

So what is iWalk for Animals?

iWalk for Animals is a lifesaving venture that encourages animal-lovers around the globe to “walk where they are” on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. Gather with friends and family, with or without your pets, at the time and place of your choice and support the life-saving efforts of the Houston SPCA.

The best part about iWalk for Animals is just how little stress it will be for you, your family, friends, neighbors, and pets! Choose where you want to walk or run, pick your time and get to it!

Even he can do it!

How do I sign up?

You can register as an individual or join as a team by clicking here! When you register, you are raising funds for the Houston SPCA. We place 100 percent of our healthy animals into loving, new homes. We encourage you to enlist your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to step up and support your fundraising efforts.

All iWalkers who raise $100 or more will receive a limited-edition iWalk for Animals T-shirt and be eligible for other great prizes!

What is a good goal for my iWalk for Animals team?

Each animal that comes into the Houston SPCA is given a medical evaluation, vaccinations, spay or neuter surgery, and a microchip. To do all this costs about $400 per animal! Not to mention the life-saving surgeries or treatments some animals need when rescued. Please consider $400 per person as your fundraising goal and remember, every little bit counts!

Last year, nearly 275 iWalkers from coast-to-coast stepped out and raised over $300,000. Join the movement and help the Houston SPCA give orphaned, abused and neglected animals a chance to find their forever families.

I have already joined iWalk for Animals this year – will you join me?