Why do we love sharing our pets on social media platforms?

Why do we love sharing our pets on social media platforms?

Social Media and Pets

As we have made our way into the twenty-first century, technology has changed the way we connect with friends, families and even strangers. Social media has allowed us to bring awareness to those in need.  We share comedic videos and most importantly keep in touch with those around the globe. Our pets have a unique way of bringing joy through their actions.  Because of these acts of kindness, comedy, and sometimes stupidity, millions of people have shared their pets on their social media platforms. Besides that, a recent study by BarkBox found that adult dog owners share, post or talk about their pets on social media an average of 6 times per week. If they’re not sharing or talking about their own pets, they’re viewing videos or photos of other pets up to 3 times a week. Most importantly, the study found that one in ten has a social account exclusively for their beloved dog.

So why do we love sharing our pets on social media platforms?

One reason could be that we are treating our pets as legitimate family members. Because past generations have kept their dogs only in the yard.  Whereas now, people are putting their dogs in the family Christmas cards. More recently, owners have used their dogs to promote clothing brands. Franchises such as Vans and Target feature pets in exchange for monetary compensation. Some pets have become so famous on social platforms, therefore, they have become “A-list” socialites.  Most important these pets have created their own brands.

Some people have placed their pets on social media to escape the negative areas of media platforms.  Pets help us escape negative body images, political conversations and negative comments from other social media users. Dog and other pet photos/videos can be used as a means of stress relief.  Because most pet social accounts are free from negative comments and captions. Many follow dog social media accounts because they receive a few moments of laughter or heartwarming photos on their timeline.

At the end of the day, our pets are a part of our family, because just like our family members, they have their own personalities. We want to share the loving, comedic and special moments that our pets provide us, just like we want to share with our friends and family.

-Abigail R. Hanlon

Check out some of the most popular pets on Instagram:

JiffPom the Pomeranian (7 million followers): https://www.instagram.com/jiffpom/?hl=en

Nala the Cat (3.5 million followers): https://www.instagram.com/nala_cat/?hl=en

Doug the Pug (3.5 million followers): https://www.instagram.com/itsdougthepug/?hl=en

Marutaro the Shiba inu (2.6 million followers): https://www.instagram.com/marutaro/?hl=en

Grumpy Cat (2.6 million followers): https://www.instagram.com/realgrumpycat/?hl=en

Snowball, The Dancing Cockatoo

Snowball, The Dancing Cockatoo Dances to a Familiar Song

You’re driving in your car or perhaps you’re sitting at your desk and all of a sudden a familiar song plays on the radio. Your body will almost always respond in a physical way. You might begin to tap your foot or bob your head and you may not even realize what you’re doing. This is called “entrainment”, the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm. For the longest time, scientists thought this was only a human behavior.

That was until Snowball the Cockatoo was caught on tape showing off his best dance moves to “Another Bites the Dust”. In the YouTube video, Snowball shows that he has the ability to keep perfect time to the music. Viewers fell in love and scientists were baffled.  Aniruddh Patel, a leading neurobiologist at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, became particularly interested in Snowball and wanted to investigate whether or not his ability was a learned behavior or natural instinct.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJOZp2ZftCw%20

Irena Shultz, Snowball’s owner, was more than happy to share his story…she got Snowball after the previous owner had to give him up because “he was a handful”.  However, Schultz realized right away that Snowball loved music and even had his favorites.  So after learning about Snowball’s musical preferences, Patel played the music to create significantly slower and faster versions. If Snowball’s ability to keep time was simply a learned behavior, he would not be able to keep time to the manipulated tracks.  However, much to Patel’s surprise, Snowball adjusted his dance movements to match the new rhythms.

Researchers also began to study different species of birds and found that the Gray African Parrot also had the ability “to dance” and keep time with the music.  This then begs the question: of all the animals in the animal kingdom, why do birds with higher cognitive ability seem to have rhythm?  Research has shown that birds who can speak words and mimic vocalizations may have the brain circuitry similar to humans that allows them the ability to keep time to music.

Snowball, continues to be a star making appearances on TV shows and he has his own YouTube channel.  To see more videos of Snowball’s sweet moves, check out the Youtube channel: BirdLoversOnly.   

By

Abigail R. Hanlon

Music Therapy Student

Marywood University / King’s College, London

National Pet Fire Safety Day

National Pet Fire Safety Day

National Pet Fire Safety Day is July 15th!  Did you know that nearly 500,000 pets are involved in a house fire each year? With about 1,000 of them started by homeowners pets! This is a day to spread awareness about, not only how to keep your pet(s) safe during a house fire, but also how your pets themselves could potentially start one!

National Pet Fire Safety Day Logo

The most important thing to keep in mind if you suspect a fire – if the home is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pets!  Evacuate quickly and safely.  Be sure to follow the fire safety personnel’s orders when they arrive on scene!  They know how to properly enter a burning house – it’s what they are trained to do!  Lucky for me, my best friend is a firefighter! He gave some great advice about fire safety for pets (and people):

 

    • Ways to inform firemen about the pet(s) in your home besides the fire safety sticker in the window. You can inform the local fire department about the pet(s) in your home by submitting a letter listing all the information about your pet(s). This letter should include information such as type of pet, location of pet, etc.
    • How can you keep yourself safe and rescue your pet? How do you know when a fire is unsafe to re-enter? In the event of a house fire, it is very important for you to reach safety immediately. Some ideas to make it easier and safe to rescue you and your pet from danger is to always sleep near your pet(s) or have them located near an exit in your home.  For the times that you’re away from home, you should always keep a form of identification on your pet(s) such as a collar, as well as keeping them near an exit, making it easier for Emergency Responders to find and rescue your pet(s). Once you have reached safety outside of your home, you must remain there until the Fire Department arrives, and you can inform them of any possible pet(s) that may have been left inside your home. DO NOT endanger your life by re-entering your house in the event of a fire!
    • What is one thing you wish pet owners knew about house fires? The most important thing is to get everyone IMMEDIATELY evacuated to safety and to never re-enter the house, even if that means leaving things behind. Also, I encourage every homeowner to have working smoke detectors in their homes, giving them an early warning, making it faster to get everyone to safety.

Peyton the Dalmatian hanging out at the fire house

Peyton

There are many ways to evacuate your pet(s) and keep them safe in the case of a fire:

      • Display a Rescue Alert sticker. This sticker will let the firemen know what kind of pets you have and how many you have.
      • You should also make note or know your pet(s) favorite hiding places. This will ensure the firemen are able to search in these specific places first for your pet(s).
      • Be sure to always have identification on your pet. You should include your name, your phone number, and their Rabies information. This is important in case any of your pets evacuate without anybody seeing, they can then be returned to you when it is safe.
      • Prepare an emergency first aid kit for your pets. This should include medications your pet takes, bandages, blankets, treats, toys, extra leashes, carries, and most importantly a recent picture of your pet. For further emergency kit information, please visit our blog for how to be prepared for an emergency.
      • Keep leashes near an easy accessible exit door. This will ensure the firefighters are able to remove your pet(s) from your home safely.
      • If you keep your pet(s) in crates while you are at work or not home, be sure the crates are near a door they are able to exit the house quickly.
      • Always have a “Safe Haven” for your pets. This is going to be a caregiver/place they can stay safe while you are not able to stay in your home. This could be a boarding facility, a family member or friend’s house.

There are many reasons home fires may start. Did you ever think your pet(s) could cause one? There are a few ways that pet(s) can start fires in your home. Things that you should be aware of are:

      • Open flamed candles are the biggest concern! Pets are able to knock over open flame candles that can easily start a fire in your home. Flameless candles are the best pet friendly candles to keep your home smelling nice!
      • If your pet(s) are able to access the knobs on your stove, cover them up! Be sure they are safely covered so that your pet(s) are not able to turn them.
      • Check your home for other potential hazards that could start a fire. This could include loose wires, piles of paper, rubber, etc.

Alli Bortz, GVH Client Care Specialist

 

 

 

 

Life with Chickens

Life with Chickens

I want a horse, a cow, couple of pigs, a few goats but CHICKENS??? That was never on my list.  But here I am at 32 raising and loving 8 wonderful chickens.  Last March my husband and I purchased a home with a few acres of land. We ventured out to Tractor Supply and found ourselves surrounded by bins of chickens.  “Chick Days” is what they call it when hundreds of birds are shipped in to be sold during Easter.  We left that day without chicks and went home to convert the dollhouse in our front yard into our chicken coup.  The following weekend we made a trip back to Tractor Supply and picked up our feed, heating lamp, feeder, water dish, metal bin and I giddily told the clerk I would like 4 chickens.  “Four – you have to get a minimum of 6”, said the clerk.  So I selected 5 and my husband selected 1 chick for us to take home.  Thus began our life with chickens.

We raised the chickens in the garage with the heating lamp and then slowly moved them out to the coup.  Once they were out in the coup we noticed that more than one looked to be a rooster.  4 out of our 6 birds were roosters and only 2 were hens!!! We knew this was not a good mix to begin our flock but we were not exactly sure what to do.

Here are a few lessons that I have learned since we began our journey of “life with chickens”.

  • Chickens are sweet social birds.  They are a product of their environment and no two flocks are the same.  Our current flock consists of 2 roosters and 6 hens.  We have added on to our flock to increase the rooster hen ratio and learned to order them online for better odds.
  • There is a pecking order and you better be on top if you want to survive a rooster.  Roosters are protective of their flock and their coup.  If you have more than one rooster the dominant rooster will decide the pecking order for the flock.  If the second rooster does not stand down and find a job, there will be trouble.  We are so far fortunate that our 2 roosters have found their place with the flock – though I am told by other “chicken friends” this may not be long term.
  • Integrating new chicks into an existing flock – no matter how small the existing flock is – takes time and patience to keep the new chicks safe.  We spent a few months slowing introducing the new hens to our 2 roosters and 1 hen so they are now living together as one flock.
  • Chicken people find chicken people.  Sharing stories, photos and videos of your chickens becomes the new normal in your life.   My phone now holds more pictures of my chickens than I care to admit.  Non-chicken owners will have a hard time understanding your newfound infatuation with your birds.
  • When it gets dark you will worry that your chickens are safe and if the coup is closed.  Predators at night are real; unfortunately we lost one of our birds to an overnight attack.  We quickly established better night security for the flock.
  • You will find yourself looking into the sky to watch for chicken hawks like a protective mamma, ensuring that your flock is safe.
  • Now when I go to the store I pick up extra blueberries for my chickens.  They love to eat blueberries, raspberries, sunflower seeds and happy hen treats out of our hands.  Unlike the cartoons that I watched as a kid, my chickens do not like worms but they love spiders and helping me close up the garden.
  • The recent time change had me concerned about the decreased amount of outdoor time my chickens would have to free range.  They put themselves to bed when the sun goes down so this limits there time on our property.  We are looking to extend their run to give them more room to play while we are at work.
  • The first egg is really exciting!  You will share it with friends, family and on social media like a proud parent.  We have several of the hens producing eggs – right now we are getting 6 eggs per day.

eggs

  • When visitors come over your dogs will bark and your chickens will crow.  Crowing is not only for the wee hours of the morning but also as an alert, like a built in security system.
  • Chickens are a lot of work!  Like any animal or pet that you own you must carve time out of your schedule to care for and enjoy them.

Tiffany N. Consalvo, CVPM – GVH Practice Manager

 

Confessions of an Ornithophobe (Fear of Birds)

Confessions of an Ornithophobe (Fear of Birds)

Kat with Zazu

I have always thought birds, particularly parrots, were beautiful and captivating. As a young child I remember going to the Philadelphia Zoo and hand feeding the colorful Lorikeets. Although the experience was memorable, having 6 Lorikeets biting at my arm is something I wish to forget! From that moment forward I was an ornithophobe – I was afraid of birds.

Fast forward 11 years and I now find myself in a very precarious situation. I am a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) here at Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital and if you don’t know, we see a fair amount of birds here! In my first week at GVH, we saw 2 Macaws, a handful of Amazons and a couple of African Grays.  I realized quickly I would have to get over my fear of birds. Throughout my entire life, I have always conquered my fears by facing them head on….so, naturally that meant I would have to get a bird!

I started doing research online and talked to “bird” people I knew. One day I found myself at a local pet store that had pet birds for sale. A beautiful and very playful Sun Conure charmed me from the moment I saw him. His bright colors and sweet nature, how could I not fall in love?! After talking to friend who has had birds for over 20 years, I realized that the sweet Sun Conure was not for me! I decided to continue to do more research into characteristics that were important to me: size (not too big), friendliness, ability to talk, and an independent nature. After a fair amount of research I narrowed it down to 2 species – a Quaker parrot or Hahns Macaw. Now for those non-savvy bird people like I was, Quakers are illegal in the state of Pennsylvania so that left me with one choice. You might be asking yourself, “I thought she didn’t want a big bird?! Macaws are HUGE!” Alas, Hahns Macaws are also known as Mini Macaws since they are close in size to the Cockatiel.

Once I did my research on Hahns Macaws, I then had to start the search for a place where I could actually meet one! M & D Bird Farm in Delaware, exclusive bird and bird product retailer, was the one such place that had Hahns Macaws available. My husband and I drove over 3 hours to M & D just to solely interact with these mini Macaws. We spent another 3 hours in the store just talking with staff and interacting with one baby in particular. After a 3 hour drive home, more research, and slowly collecting bird items, I decided I would take the plunge and bring home the baby Hahns I had met 3 weeks prior.

Kalley with Zazu

Kalley, Client Care Specialist with Zazu

Once our girl was fully weaned, yes birds need to be weaned just like cats and dogs, we brought home Zazu! The 3 weeks leading up to Zazus’ homecoming I secured a cage, perches, toys and every thing I would need to make her happy and comfy! In the beginning it was all about her learning to trust me and realize I was going to be her protector now, her flock mate. Consistency and patience prevailed and Zazu became trustworthy of me, and I of her. Sometimes it has been challenging because she does have tantrums just like a 2 year old. However, I love having a bird now! I spend a lot of time taking Zazu with me all over to teach her to be social and not be afraid of others. It took a few months of repeating myself over and over but after about 3 months her vocabulary took off! I love having a pet I can talk to and have her talk back to me. I don’t think it will ever get old when I hear her ask me for a kiss and then she makes a kiss sound back to me. She loves saying: kiss, Bubba, whatchadoing, yummy yummy yummy, come here, upside down bird and more! She also helps me eat healthier too! Macaws have a very wide array of food items they can eat most of which are fruits and vegetables!

I can no longer say I am afraid of birds; ok I am still a little afraid of bigger birds. But Zazu has taught me so much more than I give her credit for – confidence, perseverance but most of all trust. There is a different bond I have with her than with my dogs and cats. I can see when she looks at me that she is taking in everything I do and sometimes she reflects it back to me. Every day she makes me laugh and smile. Sharing a bond with an animal that can associate with you and communicate is unparallel to anything else. Every one of my pets (I have 10) holds a special place in my heart; Zazu will always have her place!

-GVH Veterinary Technician

Adopt a Bird? Really?

Adopt a Bird? Really?

ZazuZazu 3

If you are considering adding a pet to your family and are looking for an intelligent, loving, loyal and interactive pet, why not adopt a bird?  Pet Finder is a great resource to start your search for an adoptable pet bird.  There are a few local groups that can be accessed from this site. A Helping Wing is a rescue group based out of New Jersey that specializes in rescuing pet birds. A Helping Wing deals with many pet birds that are displaced due to owner dedication or pet birds that outlive their caregivers. Many larger birds can live well up to 80 years if taken care of properly. For this reason many larger birds, like Macaws, tend to find themselves displaced due to nothing more than outliving their owners.

Having a pet bird can be very rewarding; it also can be very demanding! Some species require much more time and dedication than others. Make sure you do thorough research on the specific species before deciding what type of pet bird might be appropriate for you and your lifestyle. Getting in touch with bird clubs, like Chester County Bird Club, and specific species breeders is a great way to get one-on-one advice to make the best choice for your new pet bird.

There are many types of cages, accessories, toys and diets to choose from.  Small to medium size birds (Finches to Lories) can usually be kept in cages that range in sizes up to 18”x18”x57”. Larger birds (African Grays to Macaws) need to be kept in much larger enclosures up to sizes such as 58”x42”x74”. Birds should be able to fully extend their wings and have ample room to play and entertain themselves with multiple types of toys in their enclosures.

Diets can range from seed, nectar, pellets, fruits & veggies to even meat, or all of these! Certain things are dangerous to pet birds just like they are to cats and dogs. Chocolate, caffeine, salt, avocados and even Teflon cookware are all major dangers to birds. Female birds need to be closely monitored so they do not become “egg bound” since you cannot spay a female bird. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also play a huge role in the health and well being of your pet bird. Birds are just as big of a responsibility as a dog or cat; intelligence also adds a very interesting and complex factor to having a pet bird.

Being able to grow and bond with a bird is a wonderful thing. So if you also don’t mind having a perpetual 2 year old living with you, a bird may be right for you! Seeing your bird learn and interact with you is very rewarding and makes the entire experience priceless!

– GVH Veterinary Technician

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