Comfort for Critters

~ Celebrating 11 Years & 67,000+ Blankets ~

Hidden Danger of Onions!

Onions are a favorite food through the summer, and onion products (onion salt, minced onion) are found in many of the foods we eat. For this reason it’s important to know that onions can be a danger to your cat or dog. Many of us have heard about chocolate being poisonous for dogs, and poinsettias a problem for cats, but onions?

Onions contain chemicals that are toxic to both cats and dogs.  All types of onions are dangerous, including cooked, raw, dried, minced and even onion powder.  When pets ingest onions, they cause damage to their red blood cells, resulting in “Hemolytic  Anemia”. In actuality, the onion toxin causes red blood cells to burst, leading to lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting. Since the reaction occurs in the bloodstream, it can take two to four days for the symptoms to appear. Obviously this makes it much trickier to diagnose.  

If you think your pet has ingested an onion product, and they show any of these signs, it’s important that you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. For this, and other reasons, it’s a great idea to have easy access to your veterinarian’s phone number, but to also keep the address and phone number of an emergency veterinary center handy.

The easiest way to avoid this issue altogether is to resist the temptation to feed your cat or dog table scraps. Minced onion and onion powder  are ingredients in a wide variety of foods, some of which you may find surprising. There are many reasons veterinarians discourage pets from eating “people food”, so consider “hidden onions” to be just one more reason. Your pet will thank you with a long and happy life!

Senior for Seniors!

Being involved with Comfort for Critters necessarily exposes me to a vast network of other non-profits, working to improve the lives of companion animals. I’m often impressed and humbled by their work, and I try to shine a light in their direction, just as often as possible.

One such group is PAWS, located in Lynnwood Washington, just north of Seattle. Their program, “Seniors for Seniors” is a great solution to a problem which many shelters face. The kittens and puppies steal hearts at shelters, but older pets are often either less interesting or worse, suspect.

When older pets end up in shelters, it’s typically more difficult to find them families. That’s where the PAWS program comes in. They place dogs and cats, over the age of seven or so, with senior citizens interested in adopting. They also drastically reduce the adoption price, knowing that seniors are often living on a fixed income. They match each pet to the lifestyle, and living situation, of the new family.

There is much research on the benefits of companion animals, especially for the elderly. Companionship, an increase in exercise, and the feeling of being needed are just the start of a long list. Most of all though is the unconditional love which companion animals bring, on a daily basis, to the lives they touch. One of my favorite sayings is, “those who say you can’t buy love, have never paid an adoption fee.” So true.

These senior pets also benefit from a quieter home and lifestyle. These homes are brimming with affection and are not judgmental of an afternoon nap (or two). While the shelters do near-heroic work in my estimation, nothing replaces having your own home.

Many other shelters, around the country, have similar programs. I encourage everyone to check with their local shelter and if they don’t have this program…suggest it! You may also want to inquire if there’s a special way you can help out their older residents (like with a nice, soft blanket!).

In my home state of Illinois, the Champaign County Humane Society offers a program to match senior citizens with senior pets. It’s also called “Seniors for Seniors” and it allows a senior citizen to adopt a cat or dog, who is ten years or older with no adoption fee. This organization sees the huge benefit of this match-up. All the pets also go home with basic vaccinations, a microchip, a parasitic check and a general physical exam…so they are off to a good start with their new companion. They go a step further, making these pets eligible for a free health examination with a participating veterinarian right in the area.

The Michigan Animal Rescue League in Pontiac, also runs a program that places senior cats with senior citizens. Once the animal is placed in their new home, the MARL continues to pay for the pet’s medical needs, including exams and vaccinations. They even have volunteers who will help transport the cat to and from vet appointments!

I hope to spread the word a bit on this simple idea, which to me is an obvious “win-win”! We all know that our companion animals comfort us in so many ways. This idea provides a chance to provide comfort to the older “critters” in the shelters, which (I suspect) may need the most comfort of all.

First Five Things to do when your pet is lost

It’s hard to imagine just how distraught we would be if our pet ever wandered away. Even when they’re by our side, just the thought of it, can scramble one’s brain! So it’s an important thing to think about ahead of time. If it does happen, clear thinking surely won’t be easy! Here are five important things to do right away, if your pet is ever lost...

(Keep reading)

Top Tips to Keep Your Pets Fit

Keeping our pets in shape can mean a longer life for them, something every pet owner would love! It doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated. A few easy changes can make a big difference over the years. Some may even help the human half of the partnership to enjoy a better life alongside their animal companion! (READ MORE)

How to Photograph Black Pets in their Best Light!

One important way to combat “Black Pet Syndrome”* is to be loud and proud about the black cats and dogs which share our home. Posting pictures of your beautiful black kitty on Facebook, or Tweeting out shots of your black Lab are great ideas, with one problem - black pets are some of the most difficult to photograph!

There are a few easy “tricks” that will help you show off your black pet in the best light possible.

#1 Find the focal point -

The focal point of the photograph should be the most striking aspect of the pet. With a black pet, this is often the eyes, since sometimes they are the only color to be seen. Try to catch the expression in their eyes! As an alternative, use the texture of the coat as the focal point. To do this, lighting is especially important (read on!).

#2 Get the light, right -

First of all, turn off the “auto” feature on your camera, as it will almost always underexpose a black pet, resulting in a dark photograph. Try a photograph with, and then without, a flash. The flash will greatly change the texture of the pet’s coat. You may, or may not, like the result!

A great place to photograph your black pet is in a shady spot, somewhere away from direct light. Choose a room that has lots of light, but not directly shining on the subject. A large window, with light pouring in, just behind you (the photographer) is just perfect.

#3 Consider the background -

It’s always best to place your black pet on a background that is uncluttered. Since a photograph of a solid black pet can easily lose its detail, you need to make sure that the background does distract any further. A background light in color is also a good idea. Place your pet well in advance of the background, rather than right in front of a wall or sofa for instance. This helps the background blur a bit and your pet really stand out!

#4 Add a pop of color -

The beauty of a black coat is often shown off by a contrasting pop of color. Put a bright red bandana on your dog or a yellow catnip mouse at your kitty’s feet. Maybe even a brand new, colorful collar is in order! This splash of color will make the richness of their black coat look even better.

Even though it can be a bit of a challenge, the resulting photograph can be a real work of art and well worth the trouble. Try out a few of these ideas as you highlight your little companion. Let’s fight BPS together!


* Statistics show that black cats and dogs are often passed over and sometimes remain in the shelter for twice as long as their non-black companions. Even online services, which match pets to people, indicate that black pets remain on their “available” list four times as long as pets of other colors. All this data unfortunately means that the black dogs and cats are also the first to be euthanized in shelters without a “no-kill” policy.

Why Do Pets End Up in Shelters?

In a nutshell? It’s seldom their fault!

People often have the misguided notion that pets in shelters are somehow “less than” pets from breeders, or worse, pet stores. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Pets end up in animal shelters for a variety of reasons which change little from year to year.  In general, it’s seldom because of the pet, and much more likely to be the result of a human decision.

Backing this up is a much-cited report from the National Council on Pet Population. It lists the top reasons cats and dogs wind up in shelters. This report makes it even clearer that the adoption of these abandoned pets should take priority over making a store purchase or even supporting a breeder. Society owes a debt of gratitude to every family who has brought one of these wonderful pets into their home and their heart!

Pets in the US!

In 2015, almost $61 billion was spent on pets in the US, and they’re worth every penny. That’s up from $36 billion just ten years ago! It’s always interesting to see just how many companion animals there are in the country and compare the popularity of cats and dogs (cats win by one measure, dogs by the other). Here are the latest numbers, based on the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey:


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Shelters Match Pets to Seniors

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More Pet Fun!

Easy Ways to Make Your Pet's Life Better!

Pet parents are always looking for fun new ways to make their pet’s life just a bit better. A great place to start is by adopting rather than shopping! Shelters are filled with adorable and sweet pets, just looking for a family to love, who will love them back. Maybe a companion for your pet would be “just the thing”? If expanding your family is not possible now, we have many more ideas.

At Comfort for Critters, we make it our mission to help our pets lead their best life, as well as help all those we (unfortunately) can’t adopt. Of course comfy blankets are a must for every pet, but here are a few more ideas to explore.

Boost Kitty's Playtime!

It’s easy to put together a fun playdate with your kitten or grown cat. Many common household items can be used, since the most important ingredient is you! Check out these ideas which will have you two (or more?) playing in no time. Your feline pal will enjoy many benefits from the mental stimulation and physical activity! Great Games to Enhance Kitty’s Playtime

Take Some Great Pictures!

This is a way to get some wonderful, posed pictures of your little one, and fight “Black Pet Syndrome” at the same time! Pets end up in our photo albums, but sometimes they’re just in the background. By setting aside time and arming yourself with a few toys and treats, you can really end up with some “keepers”, worthy of framing! Photographic Black Pets in Their Best Light

New Dog Toys!

Think about all those toys you’ve bought for your pup over the years. Many of them are probably under the couch or in the far back corner of the closet. Wouldn’t it be great to bring them back to life, and see your dog have a wonderful playtime with them? It’s not as hard as it may seem! Make Your Dog’s Toys – New Again!

Keeping Them Fit!

Once you get games going with the kitty, and your dog is enjoying all their “new” toys, you’re halfway there to keeping them fit. This may translate to a longer life for them and a fun activity for you. Check out more of our tips to keep our pets active! Top Tips to Keep Your Pets Fit!

Recognizing Pain in Cats

Another way to make sure your pet’s life is a happy one, is to really be “in tune” with how they are physically feeling. This is especially important as they get older. Knowing when your pet is in pain can be quite difficult, especially with often-stoic cats. Usually though, there are some signs. If you know what to look for, you can be armed with the information you need to help them lead the best life possible. How to Know When Your Cat is in Pain

Finding the Best Dog Food

It’s always amazing to see the difference great food can make in a pet’s health, activity level and life. It’s not always easy though to make the right choice! By following a few guidelines, you can find the best brand of food for your pet, and your budget. Think “Two by Two” when Choosing the Best Dog Food

Watch for Toxins!

Dangerous toxins can turn up in many unexpected places.  To keep your pet as safe as possible, become familiar with what the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) considers to be the most common poisons found in most homes, and which are the most dangerous particularly for pets. Protect Your Pet from These Common Toxins

Identifying Feline Depression

Having a close relationship with your kitty is key to helping them improve this area of their life. Learning some expert strategies just may help avoid depression in your feline companions. If you think your kitty is dealing with depression, there are many treatment options, which offer tremendous hope. Recognizing & Treating Feline Depression

Exercises Your Dog Will Love

We all know that a bored dog, is an invitation for trouble! Keeping your pup mentally and physically fit needs just a bit of planning, a bit of time and a bit of creativity. You’ll find the time spent to be well worth it, and you may even have a blast yourself! Mental & Physical Exercises to Help Your Dog

Help, My Pet is Lost!

The time to devise a game plan to find a lost pet is now, not when you’ve realized they’ve slipped out of the yard! There are a handful of tried-and-true techniques that can save you time, save you stress and help find your wandering pet! Five Things to do Right Away When your Pet is Lost!

A caring pet-parent will find an array of other ideas scattered throughout the Comfort for Critters website. For instance, why not make a blanket, a toy or a treat for all the wonderful pets you share your life with? Making their life better may just make your life better too!