The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends

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:

Houston SPCA Thanksgiving Throwback!

Thanksgiving 2014 is tomorrow and we want to make sure that you and your family are keeping your pets happy and safe this holiday season.

Even if your pets offer to help you cook – let them relax today while you make your family’s feast purrfect!

And even if you really want to give them some of the delicious human foods or table scraps, make sure that you are keeping your pets safe!

For even more awesome Thanksgiving pet tips from the Houston SPCA, check out last year’s Thanksgiving post:!

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

Houston SPCA Throwback Thursday – Halloween Pet Safety Tips!

It’s our first throwback Thursday here at the Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog!

Today we are going to take a look back at our Halloween Pet Safety Tips just in time for October 31st.

Make sure to keep your pets safe by checking out all of our safety recommendations from last year’s Halloween post:

Happy Halloween from the Houston SPCA!

For more information about the Houston SPCA, check out today!


Avoiding the Back to School Blues – Pet Separation Anxiety

It is that time of year again when backpacks are packed, pencils are sharpened and lunches are ready to go! As students head into a brand new school year, let’s remember that you may still have some furry friends at home who will need your attention.

During the summer months, students who are able to stay at home with their pets can give them lots of love and attention. However, when those students go back to school, their pets may feel some separation anxiety or loneliness.

Some signs that your pet may be feeling a bit anxious or lonely include:

Excessive barking or meowing

Chewing or destructive behavior

Guilty dog chewing woman's shoes


Trying to escape from their home

Urinating or defecating inside the house (outside of the litter box!)

If your pet starts showing signs of separation anxiety, make sure to take them to your veterinarian! Your veterinarian will check to see if there are other issues that would be causing these behaviors.

To help your pets avoid the ‘back to school’ blues, here are a few tips to keep them happy and occupied:

Mental Stimulation

Cat Scratch DJ on Make A Gif

Keeping your pet mentally stimulated throughout the day is one of the best ways to overcome separation anxiety. For cats, cat trees, scratching posts and puzzle feeders with delicious goodies are great ways to keep busy. For dogs, there are many toys that will help keep them busy all day long. My favorite is the PetSafe Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude. I fill the Squirrel Dude with part of my dog’s diet (don’t want them getting too many extra treats!) and some peanut butter. I freeze this combination overnight then give the Squirrel Dude to my dog during the day. It takes a long time for the inside to thaw out and keeps my pup happy for hours. The more your pets are focused on puzzles and toys, the less they are focused on you being out of the house.

Reward Positive Behaviors

cute dog gif

When training your pets (Yes, you can train cats!), you always want to reward your pet for the behaviors you want them to learn. Try to avoid rewarding your cat or dog with attention or treats when they meow or bark at you. Instead, reward them when they are quiet and calm or have found something to keep themselves busy. More interactive training can be beneficial as well. Helping your pets learn how to ‘sit,’ ‘stay’ or ‘lay down’ can help when you are leaving for the day. Training with your pets every day helps to stimulate their minds and moves them toward being more confident in themselves.

Play with Your Pet Every Day

golden retriever life is good gif

One of the best parts of having a pet is getting to play with them! So why not play with them every day for at least 30 minutes? Everyone in the family will enjoying designated play time – your pets will have fun, your family will de-stress and everyone will bond a bit more with each other.


Another way to help your pet be a little bit calmer while you are away is to make sure they have exercised before you leave. Taking your dog on a 30 minute walk each day before you head to school, or playing laser-tag with your cat for a while, will help them spend some of the energy they may have put toward being anxious on exercising. Exercising each day will also help keep their weight in check!

Do not Make a Big Deal Out of Leaving

If you think your dog or cat is going to be anxious after you leave for the day, try not to make the goodbye process too long. Animals can sense our emotions and the more upset you are about leaving them at home, the more upset your pets may become when you actually leave. Keep your goodbyes casual and your pet will be less worried about you being gone.

Doggie Daycare and Dog Walkers

Another option for your pet to help with anxiety is to not leave them at home – book them with your local doggie daycare! You can leave your dog in the capable hands of a doggie daycare where the staff will play with your dog, help them socialize with other dogs and feed them if needed. Another option is hiring a dog walker to come to your home and walk your dog once or twice a day. This will help your dog get some much needed exercise which can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Now your family is ready to keep your pet happy and busy all day long!

You aren’t the only ones going back to school this August – the Houston SPCA’s School Program is back in full swing with many brand new sessions available to Houston area schools. Sign-up today to enjoy a free presentation at your school from our Humane Education Instructor. For more information about the Houston SPCA visiting your school, please visit!

Houston SPCA Critter Camp 2014 Comes to a Close

As the last week of Critter Camp comes to an end, let’s take a look at two of our brand new sessions we introduced this summer to teach our campers even more about animals!

For campers interested in how the Houston SPCA rescues animals on a daily basis, ‘Operation Rescue’ was the perfect camp session to pick! Each day of Operation Rescue had its own theme including: oil spill awareness, pet first aid, animals that rescue people, natural disaster preparedness and animal cruelty prevention. Campers were able to take home knowledge that they could use on a regular basis to keep their pets safe and their community aware of various events that could affect animals.

While learning about how wild animals are affected by oil spills, our campers were introduced to the chemical properties that oils have including being less dense than water. The campers used this knowledge to create fun artwork. After dropping small amounts of thinned oil paint into a tin of water, the campers could ‘float’ a piece of paper on top of the water to create a marbleized pattern!

Oil Spill ArtTo learn about pet first aid and the importance of knowing when to take your furry family member to the veterinarian, the Houston SPCA Critter Camp team welcomed a pet first aid expert who taught our campers basic pet first aid skills that they could share with their family and friends.

Campers with First Aid

All of our critter campers are dedicated to helping stop animal cruelty and neglect in their communities. They were very excited to meet one of our Animal Cruelty Investigators as seen on Animal Cops: Houston! Our investigator described the tools she uses on a daily basis to help rescue animals in need, the procedures investigators have to follow when a case is reported and how animals are taken care of when brought to the Houston SPCA after being rescued.

Cruelty Investigator Vehicle Tour

The ‘Operation Rescue’ camp session ended each week with a visit by our friends from the Houston METRO Police Canine Program. These officers and their canine partners help keep people safe around Houston on a daily basis and were so kind to donate their time to our camp! Our critter campers were given a demonstration on how canine police officers can track different scents and alert their partners to danger.

Metro K-9 visit 2

Metro K-9 visit 1

Every summer, the Houston SPCA Critter Camp has hundreds of campers attend our camps who want to become veterinarians when they grow up. This new camp session was the best summer pick in Houston for any and all children who want to be a vet – the Houston SPCA’s VetCAMP! These sessions focused on teaching campers about animal anatomy and physiology, how to apply to veterinary school, common animal illnesses and what a veterinarian does on a daily basis.

Every day during VetCAMP, the Critter Campers were able to speak with members of our veterinary staff about veterinary science and medicine. At the end of the week, each Critter Camper was able to ‘apply’ (through an educational relay race) to be an honorary Houston SPCA Veterinarian!

VetCAMP Final

During their ‘final exam’ campers labeled bones and organs in their favorite animals, identified foreign objects in animal radiograph examples, created their own ‘surgical tool’ using craft materials, and used that surgical tool to perform ‘surgery’ on a shoe-box!  Our campers learned so much during VetCAMP and we can’t wait until next year’s sessions!

Summer Critter Camp 2014 has been amazing! If your children missed out on this fun and educational experience, keep checking our website for updates on Winter Critter Camp 2014 and Spring Break Critter Camp 2015!

To find more information about the Houston SPCA’s Critter Camp, check out our website: