Protect Your Pets: Pet Poison Prevention Month

March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month, a time to spotlight the importance of safeguarding our pets from the unseen dangers lurking in our homes. Pets, with their curious natures, often stumble upon items that, while harmless to humans, can pose severe threats to their health. The key to pet poison prevention lies in awareness and proactive measures. Simple steps, such as storing hazardous substances out of reach, can significantly reduce the risk of pet poisoning.

Household Hazards to Watch Out For

Sweet Danger: Xylitol

Found in many sugarless gums​, candies,​ and toothpaste, xylitol is a common culprit in pet poisonings, especially in dogs. A small amount can be dangerous. Symptoms like vomiting, weakness, and seizures are red flags for xylitol poisoning.

Infographic by the ASPCA for Pet Poison Prevention Month. The many hiding places of Xylitol. Medications, Dental Health Products, Food, personal Care Items.

Medication Mishaps

Medicines that heal humans can harm pets. NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and antidepressants are particularly hazardous, leading to a range of issues, from stomach ulcers and kidney failure to severe neurological problems. Keeping medications out of reach can prevent accidental ingestions.

Floral Foes

The arrival of spring brings blooms that, while beautiful, can be deadly to pets. Lilies, for instance, are highly toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure with minimal exposure. Dogs aren’t immune to the dangers of spring bulbs either, with tulips and daffodils causing severe gastrointestinal distress.

nfographic by the ASPCA for Pet Poison Prevention Month. Identifing Poisonous Lilies for cats.

Chocolate: A Bitter Risk

Chocolate is a well-known hazard for pets, particularly dogs. The toxicity level increases with the darkness of the chocolate, with baker’s and dark chocolate being the most dangerous. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and even heart failure.

Garden Products: Hidden Dangers

Fertilizers may keep our gardens lush but can be deadly to our four-legged friends. Some contain harmful chemicals that can lead to drooling, seizures, and even death if ingested. Similarly, pest control products that eliminate rodents or snails can be fatal to pets, causing severe health issues without prompt veterinary care.

Prevention and Preparedness

By taking these precautions and educating others about the risks, we can make our homes safer for our beloved pets. Remember, a little effort in pet-proofing can go a long way in preventing emergencies and ensuring our pets lead happy, healthy lives. Let’s use this opportunity to spread awareness and take action to protect our furry family members from these preventable hazards.

If you suspect your pet has gotten into something toxic, please contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center or your emergency veterinarian.

Smile Bright: Celebrating Pet Dental Awareness Month

February is Pet Dental Awareness Month. This is a time to spotlight the importance of your pet’s dental health and how it impacts their overall well-being. The Humane Society of Utah is thrilled to join this cause, emphasizing the value of dental care in pets’ lives. With the introduction of affordable dental services at our Murray Clinic, you can ensure your pet’s smile is as healthy as their tail is waggy.

The Importance of Pet Dental Health

Dental health is a crucial component of a pet’s overall health. Neglecting dental care can lead to more than bad breath; it can cause periodontal disease, tooth loss, and even affect the heart, liver, and kidneys. Understanding the signs of dental problems and seeking prompt care can protect your pet from unnecessary pain and potential systemic health issues.

Learn more about the importance of pet dental health from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

A close up photo of human fingers picking up a dog lip to show pet dental health.

Dental Care Tips for Pet Owners

While professional veterinary care is paramount, there are several steps pet owners can take at home to maintain their pet’s dental health:

  • Regular Brushing: Like humans, pets benefit significantly from regular tooth brushing. Use a pet-safe toothpaste and start slowly to get your pet accustomed to the process.
  • Dental Treats and Toys: Many products are designed to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Always choose products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
  • Routine Check-Ups: Regular veterinary check-ups can help catch dental issues before they become severe.

A Healthy Pet is a Happy Pet

This Pet Dental Awareness Month, we invite you to prioritize your pet’s dental health. Whether it’s scheduling a dental check-up, starting a new tooth-brushing routine, or learning more about pet dental care, every step you take makes a difference.

Compassion in Action: The Humane Society of Utah 2023 Year in Review

The front entrance to the Humane Society of Utah's Adoption Center with blue skies and pink flowering trees in front of building.

As we reflect on the past year, it’s heartening to see how our collective efforts have shaped a better world for animals. We have been at the forefront of this compassionate journey, tirelessly working to ensure the welfare of animals across our state. In this 2023 Year in Review, we proudly share our milestones, challenges, and the spirit of our community that has made all the difference. Accompanied by a heartfelt video message from our Executive Director, this review is not just a recount of our accomplishments but a testament to the power of collective action and support from individuals like you.

Remarkable Rescues and Successful Adoptions

Thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers, and community support, the Humane Society of Utah has successfully placed 5,529 homeless animals into loving homes. We assisted 1,189 community-owned pets through our Pet Retention and Shelter Diversion Program. Each rescue story is a beacon of hope and a reminder of the difference we can make together.

Innovations and Community Engagement

Innovation has been a key theme of the Humane Society of Utah in 2023. We’ve expanded our programs and improved best practices to better care for the animals and streamline our adoption processes. 

Community engagement has been pivotal in our 2023 journey. Through our Preventative Care Clinics, Humane Education Program, fundraising events, and volunteer initiatives, we’ve strengthened our bond with animal lovers across Utah. Engaging with just over 85,000 Utahns. Our community’s support has been instrumental more than ever in making our work possible.

Humane Society of Utah Year in Review 2023 infographic. 5,529 pets adopted, 1,438 pets fostered, 1,189 owned animal served through pet retention and shelter diversion, 593 free behavio consults, 3,943 bags of pet food distributed to local food banks & rescues, and 7,339 animals spayed/neutered.

As we look forward to another year of challenges and opportunities, we are reminded that every small act of kindness contributes to a larger impact. Join us as we continue to make a difference in the lives of animals in need, and together, we can change their world.

Celebrating Compassion: Highlights from HSU’s 2023 Wags to Wishes Gala

The Humane Society of Utah (HSU) was thrilled to host our annual Wags to Wishes Gala on Saturday, November 11th, 2023, at the luxurious Little America Hotel. It was a night of celebration and enchantment, thanks to the incredible support of our presenting sponsor, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. The Gala is the pinnacle of HSU’s fundraising calendar, an evening to celebrate our accomplishments and the incredible compassion of our donors and sponsors.

Embracing Firsts and Celebrating Advocates

From the beginning, the 2023 Gala stood out as a night of ‘firsts.’ Renowned reality star, author, and animal welfare advocate Lala Kent dazzled as the event emcee. She held the audience captive from start to finish with her trademark charm and wit. Moreover, this year’s Gala marked the debut of HSU’s new Executive Director, Alexis Pagoulatos. We are thrilled to begin a new era of leadership under her experienced direction. The Gala was the perfect event to introduce Ms. Pagoulatos to our most esteemed donors, sponsors, and community supporters. 

Amidst this night of glitz and glamour, we took the opportunity to recognize some of our biggest champions for animal welfare. The first annual Charitable Giving Award recognized Mountain America Credit Union for their outstanding support year after year. The first annual Legacy Award honored the late Curtis Lipke, who left a remarkable gift to the Humane Society of Utah after his passing. Both awards are a testament to the compassion and generosity of the community that surrounds us.

Paw-fect Stars on Stage: From Struggle to Stability

What Humane Society of Utah Gala would be complete without the true stars of the show: the animals! A heartwarming doggy runway show featuring HSU alumni, was a highlight of the evening. As these precious pups took to the stage in front of an adoring audience, we shared their touching journeys from adversity to long-lasting companionship. Their tales of transformation are a testament to the impact of our collective efforts. 

Inspired by these stories of hope and resilience, the Gala attendees opened their hearts and their wallets. Generous contributions poured forth during the program, lighting the path for even more stories of success and healing. 

Gratitude for a Record-Breaking Evening

The collective dedication of our staff, volunteers, and attendees culminated in a night to remember. Together, we raised nearly $250,000! This astounding success will empower HSU to help Utah’s homeless pets even more heading into the new year. 

As the curtains closed on this remarkable evening, our hearts swelled with gratitude. To everyone who contributed, attended, and supported our mission: you are the driving force behind our lifesaving work. We eagerly anticipate the years to come and the continuation of our cherished partnerships. We hope you all will join us for another fantastic Gala in 2024 and another opportunity to celebrate our shared devotion to the animals!

The Truth About Adopted Pets as Gifts: Myths vs. Reality

The idea of gifting a pet during the holiday season often sparks debates and concerns. Some believe that pets adopted as gifts are more likely to be returned or end up in shelters. Let’s look at the data and debunk the myths surrounding pets given as presents.

Myth vs. Reality: Examining Return Rates

The myth that gifted pets are frequently returned lacks substantial evidence. Studies and shelter data from across the country show similar or lower return rates for pets adopted as gifts than those acquired by personal choice. 

Understanding the Gifted Pet Adoption Process

Contrary to common assumptions, shelters, and rescue organizations have structured adoption processes for pets given as gifts. These procedures often involve thorough conversation to prepare pets and people for success. These organizations work hard to ensure the recipient is ready for the commitment.

The Importance of Preparation and Education

Successful pet adoptions, whether gifts or personal choices, hinge on education. Preparing the recipient for the responsibilities and long-term commitments of pet ownership is vital.

Responsible Gifting: Encouraging Thoughtful Choices

The focus should be on responsible gifting. Encourage recipients to visit the shelter or participate in the selection process, ensuring the pet’s compatibility with their lifestyle and preferences. Like HSU, many shelters offer post-adoption support and resources, including behavioral training, pet care tips, and counseling. This helps pets and their people stay together.

Despite the prevailing myths, evidence suggests that pets adopted as gifts do not inherently face higher return rates. The key to a successful adoption, whether a gift or a personal choice, lies in the recipient’s careful preparation, education, and involvement in the adoption process. When done thoughtfully and responsibly, gifting a pet during the holiday season can create enduring bonds and bring immeasurable joy to both the recipient and the pet.

Finding The Right Fit: Bernie’s Story

Sometimes, adding a new dog to the family is a matter of finding the right fit. Jess and Justin already had one dog, and Jess desperately wanted to welcome a second into their home. Justin was a little more hesitant. “I was resistant to the idea because I worried that because of my disability, I would have a hard time taking care of a second dog,” Justin recounts. However, when Jess shared a photo and bio of Bernard from the Humane Society of Utah, Justin was taken with his cute, squishy face. He knew he had to at least meet Bernard. Perhaps this dog could be the perfect fit for their family! As Justin and Jess remember, “We were the first ones there that morning, so we could make sure we didn’t miss our chance to take care of him.”

Bernie a brindle bulldog mix gets an eye exam at HSU.

A Dog’s Road to Recovery:

Bernard arrived at the Humane Society of Utah (HSU), facing numerous health challenges. He suffered from a severe eye infection, limited mobility, difficulty breathing, and a painful skin condition. But beneath it all, Bernard had a heart of gold and a happy, goofy personality. Staff members quickly noticed that Bernard loved being around people more than anything else. Even during times of discomfort, Bernard was happy to have someone visit his kennel. 

This is the first thing that Justin and Jess noticed about Bernard when they visited him in the spring of 2023. It was clear that Bernard had been through his share of challenges. His eye infection was so severe that emergency surgery had been performed to remove the affected eye. When Justin and Jess first saw Bernard, he was in a cone and still exhausted from his recent procedure. But they also saw Bernard’s personality shine through. “When they brought him into the room with us, he just lit up and wanted all the love and attention we could give him,” Jess remembers. Justin and Jess agreed that day to foster Bernard and help him on his road to recovery. When they brought Bernard home, they knew he was there to stay. As Jess describes, “It became clear very quickly that there was no way we could give him up! He fit right into our home and hearts like a missing piece we didn’t know was gone.”

Bernie the brindle bulldog mix sleeps on a couch in his adoptive home.

The Perfect Dog for This Family:

Bernard spent a few weeks in foster care with Justin and Jess. He needed daily medical treatment as he recovered from surgery and got his skin infection under control. During this time, Bernard fit right in with the whole family. He instantly connected with their kids and their other dog. Bernard’s medical history and slow-moving style might have been a turn-off to other pet guardians. But he was the right dog for Justin and Jess, who wanted a mellow companion to add to their family. When Bernard finally recovered and was healthy enough for adoption, it was no surprise to HSU staff that Justin and Jess decided to adopt him permanently. These days, Bernard (who has been renamed Bernie) can usually be found snuggled up on the couch with his people or napping with his new dog sibling. Now that Justin has a constant companion in Bernie, he is so glad he took a chance and decided to visit the Humane Society of Utah. He explains, “What I didn’t realize until he came home to us is that my wife was right, I needed him just as much as he needed us.” So, if you are still deciding whether to add a new pet to your household, remember to keep an open mind. The perfect fit might be out there for you! And there are plenty of animals like Bernie, who just need the right person to take a chance. We couldn’t put it any better than Jess, who says, “You’ll know when you meet the one for you.”

Bernie the brindle bulldog mix cuddles with his adoptive family in his new home.

Keeping Your Furry Friends Safe This Thanksgiving

A large black and tan dog lays in the yard with fall leaves on the ground.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, gratitude, and delicious meals. As we gather to celebrate, it’s important to remember our furry family members and ensure their safety during this festive season. The abundance of food and guests can pose unique risks to our pets, but we can ensure they have a safe and enjoyable holiday with a few precautions.

1. Mindful Meal Planning: The Thanksgiving feast is a highlight, but not all ingredients are pet-friendly. Onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and xylitol (found in sugar-free treats) are among the many foods that can be harmful to pets. Be cautious about leaving plates or trash accessible to your curious companions.

2. Pet-Safe Space: With a bustling household, it’s easy for pets to feel overwhelmed. Create a quiet, comfortable space for them away from the commotion. Provide familiar toys or blankets to help them feel secure amidst the festivities.

3. Avoid Table Scraps: Resist the urge to share your meal with your pets, as rich or fatty foods can lead to digestive issues or pancreatitis. Instead, opt for pet-friendly treats to include them in the celebration without compromising their health.

4. Secure Trash Cans: After the meal, please take care of leftovers and packaging promptly and securely. Turkey bones, discarded food scraps, and strings from meat can be enticing but hazardous if ingested. Ensure trash cans are sealed or placed in an area inaccessible to pets.

5. Stress Management: The holiday chaos can stress out pets leading to anxiety or even escape attempts. Consider using calming aids, like pheromone diffusers or calming music, to ease their nerves. Additionally, ensure they have proper identification in case they manage to slip away in the hustle and bustle.

6. Watch the Doors: As guests come and go, there’s a higher chance of doors being left open. Be mindful of your pet’s whereabouts to prevent them from slipping out unnoticed. Consider using baby gates or leashes to manage their access to high-traffic areas.

7. Communicate with Guests: Inform your guests about your pet’s needs and sensitivities. Request that they avoid feeding table scraps or leaving food unattended. Additionally, remind them to be cautious when entering or exiting to prevent accidental escapes.

Thanksgiving is a special occasion where we express gratitude and enjoy the company of our loved ones, including our furry friends. We can ensure our pets have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving by taking a few precautions and staying mindful of their needs. Remember, a little planning can go a long way in ensuring that our pets enjoy the celebration as much as we do!

Gray of Face, Full of Heart: Adopt a Senior Pet

Granny paws, old-timers, sugar snoots… whatever you call them, we at the Humane Society of Utah know that senior pets make some of the best fur-iends! Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should welcome a senior dog or cat into your family:

Adoptable senior pet Dolly the gray and white cat sits in Kitty City awaiting adoption.
  • Aging Like Fine Wine: Potty training, learning leash manners, and scratched up furniture are just a few of the less cute and cuddly endeavors that you have a good chance of skipping when you adopt a senior pet! Many of these pepper-muzzled pals come with a set of built in house manners, ready to go! However, it’s important to be mindful that there may be an adjustment period while your pet learns the ropes of their new home.
  • “Senior” is a Relative Term: While both cats and dogs are often considered to have reached senior status by about seven years of age, that doesn’t mean they don’t have oodles of golden years ahead of them! Cats, in particular, routinely live into their late teens and early 20’s, meaning there’s a good chance you have a decade or more left with your new senior friend.
  • Senior Pets are Surprising! Dispel your expectations, because not all senior pets are ready to slow down just yet! While many senior pets may enjoy a good snooze on the sofa, it’s just as common that they’re still very in tune with their inner kitten or puppy. Don’t pass on a perfect pet just because you think they may not want to chase that ball or catnip mouse— they just might surprise you!
  • Annnnd Unsurprising In the Best Way: Oftentimes with senior pets, what you see is what you get! That snuggly couch potato you meet in the kennels will most likely be a snuggly couch potato when you get home to your actual couch, too. Unlike puppies and kittens, senior pets have had time to develop their personalities, making it less likely that you’ll be caught off guard by who you’re bringing home. However, don’t forget about that adjustment period pets may go through as they get used to their new digs!
  • A New Best Friend Without Breaking the Bank: Many animal welfare organizations offer discounted rates and adoption fees for senior pets to help incentivize adopters. Sometimes, they’re even completely free! Here at the Humane Society of Utah, our senior pets are “Name Your Own Price,” meaning you get to choose what you’d like to contribute to their adoption fee. Sweetening the deal, our seniors still come spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and with a certificate for a free check-up with a participating veterinary office! 
Adoptable senior pet Koa the black and white dogs poses in a studio with a happy open mouth smile.

Haven’t you heard? Eight years is the new eight months! Adopt a senior pet today from and find out firsthand why they say “old friends are the best friends.”

Celebrating the Heart and Soul of Our Community: The Humane Society of Utah’s Volunteer Appreciation Party

The Humane Society of Utah (HSU) recently hosted an event to honor our volunteers and foster families. On September 20th, the organization threw a Volunteer Appreciation Party, bringing together a remarkable group of individuals who have selflessly dedicated their time, energy, and love to the cause of animal welfare. It was a night filled with food, live music, awards, and a raffle. It was all made possible through the generosity of local businesses who lent their financial support to cover the costs of this event.

One of the highlights of the evening was the awards ceremony, where dedicated volunteers were recognized and celebrated for their exceptional contributions. It’s a moment that puts into focus the incredible impact each of them has made in the lives of countless animals. Whether it was hours spent cleaning kennels, assisting with adoptions, or providing love and care to the animals, each volunteer’s contribution was valued and acknowledged.

The evening was made even more special with a raffle featuring a wide array of items, all generously donated by local businesses. This not only added a layer of excitement to the event but also served as a touching reminder of the support that the Humane Society of Utah receives from its community.

The heartwarming statistics of the night added a touch of awe to the already emotional atmosphere. In 2022, HSU volunteers collectively dedicated an astounding 20,579 hours of service, an invaluable contribution valued at an estimated $267,527. Additionally, foster families cared for 1,189 sick or needy animals, providing these vulnerable animals with the love and care they needed. These figures highlight the volunteers’ and foster families’ dedication and unwavering commitment, demonstrating that their efforts are a true labor of love.

Special thanks to these local businesses for helping us honor the dedicated volunteers and foster families of the Humane Society of Utah. Bjorn’s Coffee – Sandy, Squatch Pizza, Zoom Room Dog Training – Sandy, Taqueria 27 – Fashion Place, Porcupine Pub & Grille, Squatters, So Cupcake, Sweet Hazel & Co, Painting with a Twist – Murray, Dodo Restaurant, Bohemian Brewery, RedRock Brewery, Quick Quack Car Wash, Tsunami Restaurant & Sushi, Ma and Paws Bakery, Megaplex Theaters, Slackwater Pizzeria – Sandy, and Haron’s Midvale.

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets: Tricks and Treats to Keep Them Safe

A red dog with a large head wears devil horns and a black cape, standing against fall-colored trees.

Halloween is a time of spooky fun, costumes, and delicious treats for humans, but it can be a downright nightmare for our furry friends. Many hidden dangers, from candy hazards to frightening decorations, can threaten our pets. This year, let’s ensure a safe and happy Halloween with these safety tips for pets.

Two dogs go on a spooky walk to prep for Halloween safety tips for pets.

Take a Spooky Walk: If your dog enjoys walks, take them for a Halloween-themed stroll in your neighborhood. It’s an excellent opportunity for them to experience the sights and sounds of the holiday in a controlled environment. ​Ple​ase bring lots of treats to help them form a positive association with ​the various ​sights and sounds from Halloween decorations. 

Choose Pet-Friendly Decorations: Decorations like fake cobwebs, glow sticks, and lit pumpkins may seem harmless, but they can pique your pet’s curiosity. Cats might see stringy decorations as toys and dogs may chew on them. Ensure all decorations are pet-safe. Some decorations, like glow sticks, can be toxic if ingested by pets. ​Please keep them out of reach, and be careful ​​where you place them.

A black cat sits with orange and black Halloween decor.

Safe Candy Storage: If swallowed, candy wrappers, chocolate, and lollipop sticks can be hazardous. Make sure to dispose of these items safely and securely. And remember to keep that bowl of candy out of your pet’s reach!

Pet-Safe Treats: ​Consider making or buying pet-safe treats. Many recipes available online cater to your pet’s dietary needs.
Soundproofing: The constant doorbell ringing and noisy trick-or-treaters can stress your pet out. Create a safe and quiet space for them with soothing music or a white noise machine to drown out the commotion.