Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Easy Way to Help Fix Most of Your Dog's Problems

Do you have a dog who barks too much? Is she a nervous or anxious dog? Does he have aggression issues? Is your dog chewing the furniture? Is she showing some kind of obsession? Does he go crazy when people visit? Does she have separation anxiety.

There is one simple thing you can do to help eradicate most of these problems: walk your dog more. It really is that simple.

A dog who is confined to an apartment or even a big yard is not fulfilling his canine needs. What makes a dog happiest is when he is migrating with his pack leader (that should be you, by the way), burning off energy, learning what lies beyond the boundaries of his home, stimulating his mind with all the new smells, sounds, and sights, and enjoying being part of a walking team. And after an energy-draining walk is the best time to make any obedience lessons more effective.

The Taiwan SPCA considers it cruel and irresponsible to not walk a dog. A dog who is confined too often, even to a large yard, is a frustrated dog. He will have an overwhelming need for stimulation, exercise, migration, socialization, and leadership (knowing his place in the pack, walking behind a good leader). But when these needs aren't met, all that energy, all that desire for stimulation, all that frustration at not knowing what lies beyond his den, and all that anxiety at not being reminded every day of his place as a follower in a pack will turn your dog into a nightmare. His energy will be released in negative ways, on destructive things, such as digging, or chewing, or will emerge as anxiety. He may seek stimulation from antisocial behaviour, such as barking or overexcitedness. And he might show that frustration through aggression.

The Taiwan SPCA recommends walking your dog for at least 45 minutes every day. By doing this, you will be helping your dog lose many of her issues, you'll be reminding her that she has a good leader who she can follow, and you will be experiencing one of the true joys of dog companionship: benefiting from taking time away from your own stresses to enjoy some peaceful time strolling in the open air with your best friend happily walking by your side. Walking your dog every day is great for you, too. Don't see it as a chore; see it for what it really is: a great stress-reliever. And thank your dog for helping you get outside more.

Try it. Set aside 45 minutes a day for you and your dog to step outside and enjoy a nice walk together. Notice how much better you both feel afterwards, and after keeping it up even for just a few days. And then start to notice how any unwanted behaviour starts to disappear. If you can do the long walk before leaving your dog alone for a long period of time, then he is far more likely to relax while you're gone. Remember: a tired dog is a good dog. Leave a comment here to tell us about the behavioural improvements you start to see.

And if you think you can't enjoy walking your dog every day because she pulls too hard on the leash, that is no excuse: our next post will be about how to have your dog walking beside you like a show dog in minutes. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The Asia for Animals Conference, January, 2010--Singapore

The Asia for Animals (AfA) conference is a must for anyone seeking to make a positive difference to the welfare of animals in Asia or any of its countries.

AfA brings together Asian animal-welfare groups and individuals as well as some of the biggest and best-known animal organizations on the planet for several days of informative presentations and discussion,  essential workshops, great networking opportunities, and a chance to help or be supported by people and groups who share your goals.

For more information about the conference, the topics, and dates, explore the AfA site by clicking on the title of this blog post, or by visiting

The conference is held entirely in English.

We'll see you there!


Dog-keeping in Taiwan: its contribution to the problem of free-roaming dogs

A very interesting study, done in 2001, that seeks to find why there are so many stray dogs in Taiwan. If the length of it puts you off, take a look at the opening paragraph (pp.1 - 2) and the conclusion (pp. 19 -20). This is a must-read for anyone who wants to fully understand the issues surrounding dog abandonment in Taiwan, know a little about the history of local stray welfare, and have an idea of the likeliest solutions to the problem.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Five Freedoms

The Taiwan SPCA believes that anyone responsible for the care of animals should provide them where at all possible with the Five Freedoms. These basic principles of animal care may not always be achievable, but we believe they should be aspired to. An animal recovering from life-saving or otherwise essential surgery, for example, may not be completely free of pain nor be free to behave normally. However, animal keepers, be they farmers, pet stores, animal shelters, individuals, or anyone else, should aim to provide those animals in their care with the Five Freedoms as far as is possible.

1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
By giving the animals ready access to fresh water and enough species-appropriate food to keep them fit and healthy

2. Freedom from Discomfort
By making sure the animals have the right kind of environment for them, including shelter and a comfortable place to sleep

3. Freedom from Pain, Injury, and Disease
By preventing the animals from getting sick or injured and getting them prompt veterinary attention if they do

4. Freedom to Behave Normally
By making sure the animals have enough space and the right environment to move naturally, and to have their natural social needs met

5. Freedom from Fear and Distress
By making sure the animals' treatment and conditions do not cause mental suffering

The Five Freedoms can be better provided for the animals if those responsible for their care practice the following:

  • Considerate and responsible planning and management
  • Skilled, knowledgeable, and conscientious animal care
  • Appropriate environment design
  • Mindful handling and transportation
  • Humane treatment at time of euthanasia or slaughter
It is a goal of the Taiwan SPCA that all animals in Taiwan be provided the Five Freedoms whenever possible and be treated and cared for accordingly.

The Taiwan SPCA main website will be providing a series of guidelines on animal care for different species, from cats, dogs, and rabbits, to lizards, spiders and goats. Please contact us ( if you are an expert on a particular species that is often cared for in Taiwan and would like to write the information sheet for that animal. 

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Heartworm: Keeping your dog healthy

One of the more prevalent canine diseases in Taiwan and also one of the most debilitating is heartworm. Spread by infected mosquitoes, heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that lives most of its adult life in the right ventricle of the heart, causing serious disease if not treated. Studies show that roughly 20 percent of dogs who primarily live inside and 60 percent of dogs who live outside will become infected if not receiving preventive medicine.

Heartworm has the most debilitating effect on active dogs. The first sign of infection is coughing or breathlessness, particularly after exercise or at night. Severe weight loss and fainting may follow.

Infection can be determined by a simple blood test that most vets in Taiwan can perform, and it is highly recommended that your dog get tested annually whether he or she is on preventive medication or not. If a dog is infected, treatment is expensive, dangerous, and painful. It involves giving blood-thinning medication over a period of four weeks, with a parasite-killing and painful shot of a form of an arsenic-based compound two weeks into treatment, and your dog should be monitored closely at this time. The dose has to be carefully measured so as to kill the worm but not the dog. Your vet should do extensive tests to ensure that the dog's other organs can handle the aggressive treatment. There is also a danger that the worm might migrate into the lungs during this stage. Dogs who are successfully treated can develop serious, life-shortening health problems such as an enlarged heart and kidney disease.

To be on the safe side and keep your dog free of this crippling disease, a phrophylactic can be administered at regular periods. The usual drug of choice is Ivermectin, a relatively safe and highly effective medicine that is sold under the brand name Heartgard, but your vet may suggest one of the alternatives. Ivermectin needs to be given at least every six weeks, though the packaging will suggest every four. These drugs prevent heartworm infection in 90 percent of animals, which is why a yearly blood test is also required. Sheep-herding breeds can have a fatal reaction to Ivermectin; check with your vet if your dog is a collie, sheepdog, or the like, or a sheepdog mix. Also, a good vet will want to do a blood test for heartworm before providing the preventive.

It is also a good idea to keep your dog free of mosquito bites wherever possible. Heartworm can also effect cats, though rarely, but humans are not at risk. Take simple precautions, and you and your dog will be able to enjoy a happy, healthy life during your stay in Taiwan.

For more information about heartworm, its causes and treatment, visit


Welcome to the Taiwan SPCA blog!

Here you will find regular updates of our activities, from rescues and adoptions to events and legal status. You will also find tips on animal care, links to sites of interest, essays on animal welfare, and general ramblings. And you will learn of ways that you can help prevent the suffering of animals on this beautiful island that many of us call home.

In the right-hand column, you will see animal-welfare videos as well as short films of the Taiwan SPCA at work as well as a slideshow that is updated daily with some of the animals who we have available for adoption.

If you have any suggestions of what you'd like to see on this blog, please do leave a comment or email us with your ideas.

Should you have a matter that needs an urgent response, please call or email. Our contact details will appear in the profile section shortly.

And do give us your feedback. We are very interested to hear what you think of the Taiwan SPCA blog.

We look forward to seeing this site develop, along with the Taiwan SPCA website which is finally under construction. You can already find us on Facebook--just search for 'Taiwan SPCA' and become a fan, and you'll have access to a whole lot more news and updates. If you Twitter, then simply follow us there, under 'TaiwanSPCA' (one word).

Wishing you and your fellow animals all the very best,

Sean McCormack and Connie Chiang
Co-Founders of the Taiwan SPCA
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Taiwan)