Harness or Collar?

As a dog owner, you will definitely own at least a collar and / or harness. But do you know which one is better for your dog?

We get either a collar or harness with the intention to take our dogs out and want to make sure we keep them safe and secure. 

A collar often wins in terms of its size and ease of wearing.Yet it poses some concerns as well, particularly if you are trying to control a dog that is pulling and tugging at his leash. If the dog were to be in a collar, such pulls and tugs will be directly causing a pressure against the dog’s throat. It’s even worse if the owner were to be using a choke collar (gasp!).
Over time, the poor dog’s throat and / or trachea will be damaged.

Imagine having someone trying to crush your throat or strangle you. How does that make you feel? 😊

Some owners may also not be aware of how fitting the collar should be. Too tight, and the dog feels strangled. Too loose and you run a risk of the dog escaping by slipping its head through the collar. This is especially so if you have a dog whose head is smaller than its neck.

So how then? Maybe wearing a harness will help? After all, the harness is worn on the body and covers a bigger surface area, that should take away the risk of injury to the trachea and also make it harder for the dog to escape?

Well, it’s a yes and no. While yes, if the dog had a harness on, the force exerted by the owner will be spread over a bigger surface area (more of the chest), thereby reducing the damage.  Abrasions over time to the skin may still occur if you have a highly excitable dog who is prone to pulling. Also, unknown to many new and / or inexperienced owners, the dog could still escape from a harness if he were to reverse.

Collars also have their advantages. Being smaller, they are easier and more comfortable to wear over a long period of time. With collars, you can also include name tags and emergency contact details, making it easier to reunite lost dogs with their owners.  That’s why at Hope Dog Rescue, we use a combination of both collar and harness for our rescues. However, we are careful in the type of collar we use.  Our dogs use only martingale collars which tighten slightly when pulled but come with a stopping mechanism to prevent excessive tightening. With both a collar and harness, the dogs are better secured and we reduce potential flight risk and injuries. 

We hope that this nugget of information will help you make a more informed decision the next time you shop for your dog. End of day, safety and comfort of our dogs are topmost on our minds. 







Do dogs need shoes?

As an animal welfare organization, we have seen our fair share of dogs that have been mistreated and neglected. However, we also have to acknowledge that there is a growing population of dogs that are over pampered by their owners and treat them as if they were their children, rather than just pets. It is not uncommon to see people dressing up their dogs as they would their children. While most people understand that doggy clothes, except on the rare occasions, do not serve any purpose for the dogs, shoes, on the other hand (paw), is a bit more grey.

Do dogs need to wear shoes? The answer is no... and yes. In general, dogs' paws are designed for the outdoors. You may have heard that dogs sweat through their paws to get rid of heat in hot weather. But their paws also serve as heat transfer systems to heat up cooled blood that has been in contact with cold surfaces, which explains why huskies and other sled dogs can run in the snow for long periods without getting frostbite. So in general, there is no need for dogs to wear shoes but they can be beneficial in certain situations.
What are some of these situations?

Extreme weather conditions may warrant the use of shoes, especially if the breed is not a native to that climate. For example, a husky would not need shoes to walk around Alaska in the middle of winter, but a chihuahua might need shoes (and maybe a coat!) as they may be more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. It may be easier to circumvent the need for shoes in a climate such as ours which can get very hot. As mentioned, dogs do cool themselves down through their paws so it would be better to leave them bare. However, this does not mean that you should have no regard for other heat related injuries such as burns. There is no need for shoes if you keep your walks to the cooler parts of the day. A general rule of thumb is, if it is too hot for you to walk barefoot comfortably, then it is probably too hot for your dog too.

Some other situations that may warrant the use of shoes is if the terrain is very rough and rocky. While a dog's paws are hardier than a human's barefoot, they can still get cut on sharp objects. Vets may also advise owners to throw some shoes on their dog if they are recovering from some sort of foot injury/surgery to help with recovery or to prevent ripping of stitches.
Senior dogs may also require shoes if their legs are weak and sliding. Shoes will give the senior dog better grip and balance.

Besides these situations, there is very little other need for a dog to wear shoes, and it may even be harmful to them if the shoes are not of the correct size or not worn correctly. Dogs may also trip and fall if they are not used to walking around in shoes. The need for shoes is really situational and if a certain situation warrants it, then make sure you do your research to get the right shoes and the right fit for your dog. Above all else, make sure your dog is comfortable. If your dog absolutely refuses to walk in shoes, then you should not force the dog but try to come up with alternatives that can still keep your dog safe. Remember, shoes for dogs should be an aid, never an accessory!


INKY. A Lifetime Wandering

It was 9pm on Monday. Our volunteer was about to wrap up her evening round of community cat feeding when she heard another feeder's cry for help. She ran over and saw a black scrawny cat in a terrible state. This was a new cat, none of the community feeders had seen him before.

What a sorry sight :-( 

The cat had only one eye and its face on one side seemed sunken. On closer look, our volunteer noticed that part of the jaw appeared to be gone. The cat was drooling excessively and was emaciated. The cat, now named Inky due to his black coat, had been crying out non-stop and seemed exhausted, always trying to lean on the feeders for support and comfort. Inky was hungry, but food bits and saliva flung all over his face when he attempted to eat because of his jaw. He was affectionate and it was easy to secure him and put into a carrier. We are grateful that Inky knew he needed help and trusted us to give it to him.

There was a huge possibility that he had not eaten for weeks because of his broken jaw

At the vet

Inky has been warded at our vet. The initial prognosis was bleak because his jaw looked really bad, and we could not do an invasive examination given his weak state. He has a mass under his mouth, and both his mouth and eye were infected. There was inflammation and his kidney function was poor based on an X-ray and blood-test. He had to be syringe-fed. On his first night, basic treatment was adopted just to try and stabilize him - pain meds, antibiotics for infection and fluids for kidneys.

Inky's feeder found him on our Facebook page and visited him at the vet

After 8 hours, there were slight improvements. The nurses discovered Inky could swallow on his own, but food must be placed on his tongue as he could not pick up food on his own. He was also more comfortable, and allowed our vet to check his mouth more thoroughly. The good news is that the mandible jaw bone is still there, but had moved out of position. Nonetheless, we are still cautiously optimistic because he's an old cat with kidney failure.

Today he had a surgery to insert an esophagus feeding tube so that he can have more food and hence be able to absorb more nourishment and nutrients. This was done under anesthesia, and while he was on the table, the vet managed to X-ray his mouth and do a thorough examination. The vet has placed a wire on his jaw, to hold the jaw in place. This will remain for 6 to 8 weeks. 

We are still trying to figure out what happened to Inky. Did he meet with a traffic accident? If that were true, imagine the pain and fear. Through some divine intervention perhaps, someone who knew Inky saw our post on FB and got in touch with us. C is a dog owner who lives around 800m from where Inky was found. We believe this was the same cat he had been feeding since Dec 2022 at his apartment carpark. The same one-eyed, black cat with the long, skinny tail and tipped ear. Inky was a healthy weight then. Despite being a one-eyed cat, he enjoyed his food and his jaw was perfectly fine. According to C, he disappeared about a month ago and he thought he had found a better home. C was shocked and distraught to find out what really happened to Inky. It pains us to think that Inky might not have been able to eat and has been in pain for possibly as long as a month. How sad, and what a survivor he is.

Poor Inky's broken jaw :-( and we feel pain even with a small mouth ulcer

Inky has a microchip but is not registered with AVS. We are checking with SPCA if they have any records of his chip. We're hoping to find the person who chipped his so that we can know more about Inky and why his eye is gone. 

All the volunteers and nurses who have met Inky say he is a very sweet cat. We are all amazed by his resilience and fighting spirit despite the pain he is going through. We hope that he can find a good home in his golden years. 

Inky being tube fed and what an absolute darling he is <3 

Inky's story is a sad one, but definitely not an uncommon one for a stray animal. Strays wander about, never knowing when their next meal will come, or what it feels like to live a life of comfort and safety. If they are lucky, they meet kind people who take it upon themselves to check in on them periodically and feed them. But ultimately, they are still left to fend for themselves against all the dangers of the urban jungle that they find themselves living in. 

To date, sweet Inky’s vet bill is $5000. If you would like to help Inky with his vet bills, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg Thank you.


Stay Safe From Extreme Heat

Harper taking shade under an umbrella

Singapore is experiencing a heat spell right now so we hope that everyone is keeping well and cool! Just like us, dogs (and other animals) can also be affected by the heat. 

Heatstroke has always been a risk in our climate, but is an even bigger risk now given the current temperatures so it is important to recognize the signs of heatstroke in your dogs and how to treat it.

Heatstroke is the condition when the internal body temperature rises above a certain degree and usually occurs when high ambient temperature overcomes the body's ability to get rid of the excess heat. It is a very dangerous condition in dogs that can be fatal so it is crucial to recognize the early warning signs and treat them as soon as possible to try and bring the dog's temperature back to normal levels.

Chloe enjoying the breeze from her portable fan

Dogs pant to cool off, but if you notice your dog panting heavily and rapidly, then this may be a sign that heat stroke is starting to set in. This may be accompanied by excessive drooling. The gums and tongue may also appear bright red as the blood vessels dilate to try and dissipate the heat, and the tongue may also appear enlarged. The skin is hot to the touch and heart rate is increased at this point and the dog may have problems maintaining their balance. If nothing is done to try and reduce the dog's temperature, then the dog may start to exhibit signs of shock. They may experience muscle tremors, urinate or defecate uncontrollably, and even collapse and become comatose.

Olive resting during a walk 

Some dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke, such as dogs with thick fur, as well as the short-nosed breeds. If you suspect that your dog is showing the early signs of heatstroke, immediately take your dog to a cool and well-ventilated area. You can try to further lower the temperature of your dog by sponging them with cool, but not cold, water. Do not plunge them into a cold bath as the sudden drastic change in temperature is dangerous. 

Give your dog water but in small increments to prevent further dehydration. Take your dog to the vet immediately if they do not seem to be getting better after a few minutes as they may require fluids, oxygen and other medical support to regulate their vitals. 

As in most conditions, prevention is better than cure, and this is much more so for heatstroke as it is a completely preventable situation.

Zeus drinking water

Here are a few tips on how you can keep your dog cool and safe:

1) Walk your dogs earlier in the mornings before the heat has set in, or later in the evenings, after the ground has time to cool down. If you have to take your dogs out during the day, make sure to keep the walks short and try to stick to the grassy areas as concrete can get really heated and it is not only uncomfortable to walk on, but can actually cause burns on your dog's paws.

2) The home can also get hot during the day so make sure that while at home, there is lots of airflow and ventilation in the home and that your dog always has access to clean, cool water as dehydration is a real risk. 

3) Never, ever, leave your dog in a car without the aircon turned on. This is regardless of whether there is a heat spell or not as the interior of a car can quickly heat up.

Met Service has forecasted that the high temperatures are likely to carry on for the rest of April so we hope everyone and their pets stay cool and hydrated!


Minnie’s Skin Untreated for Years

Poor Minnie, not looking like a dog at all

Earlier this month, the owner of a 14-year-old female poodle reached out to us. Her senior dog, Minnie, was in desperate need of medical care, but unfortunately, the owner had been unemployed since 2017 and just could not afford veterinary care. As such, Minnie’s condition deteriorated over the years until the owner could no longer bear it anymore and decided to reach out to us for help. We could tell that she was genuinely concerned about Minnie, and we knew we had to do something.

Minnie's owner had chanced upon our page and was relieved that she did not have to surrender her dog to ask for medical assistance. She felt that this was the time her dog needed her the most.

To be honest, we were very shocked when we first saw Minnie. Her skin condition was really in a dire state -  she is just left with elephant skin.  We can’t help but wonder how uncomfortable and itchy she must have felt over the years. Her skin was visibly dry and scabby, and covered in small wounds and lumps. She looked really unwell and weighed only 3.6 kg. 


We immediately brought Minnie to our vet for a thorough check, and as expected, there will be a series of tests and long-term treatment involved. Her immunity is low, with a low red blood count, and the vet worries that it could be skin cancer on top of skin disease🙁. Minnie has non-healing sores, ulcerated growth on her lip and hanging growth which makes cancer a possibility. For a start, a series of blood tests were performed this round to look at her overall health. She was given cytopoint (anti-itch jab) and was prescribed antibiotics, anti-fungal and medicated shampoo; she will also need to start taking hypoallergenic kibbles instead of the normal kibbles. Minnie is tested positive for ringworms so our priority now is to treat the skin infection. 

We are glad that Minnie’s owner reached out to us for help, though we wish she had done so earlier. We are already saddled with many senior dogs that need medical care, but we just couldn’t turn a blind eye to Minnie. If you would like to contribute to Minnie’s vet bills, please drop us an email at hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg. Her recent medical bill costs us $670. Thank you for supporting and helping us to help dogs like Minnie, in low income families, cope with their medical issues.


Guest Commentary: My Two Old Dogs

By Margaret Chan

Do you want a cute, cuddly puppy or a broken, ugly old dog?

You are not wrong to choose the first, and you are not eccentric to choose the second.

In either case, you take in a dog for love. Dog owners will tell that the companionship a dog brings is indescribably fulsome.

A puppy is unbeatable as far as energy and joy go, but a needy dog brings the promise of contentment that all is well in the world.

That is why you adopt a dog - you do not want to give puppy mills business, and you want to give the abandoned a forever home.

The latter philosophy can extend to wanting to bring back those "least likely to be adopted."

This is when you reach out to HOPE Dog Rescue.

HOPE is precious with dogs that are broken of body.

They know that all dogs are endowed with total trust and hope so that no matter how ill-treated a dog can be, that dog would always be whole of a soul, forever ready to give unquestioning love.

So if you have love to give, you might want to give it to those who need love most. To the old and ill for whom time is most precious and love is but a desperate hope.

"Can anyone love me now that I am old, broken, and weary?"

In my 70s, I find myself unwilling to take in a puppy who might outlive me. I cannot contemplate that when my time is up, that I would need to entrust my dog to another. By that time my dog would be older and beyond puppy adorableness.


God, Fate, the Stars destined that Malcolm the poodle would be mine.

The first time I met Malcolm was on Jalan Besar. I was walking my 11-year-old poodle Momo. And there was a guy walking Momo's twin. Another red poodle!

I learnt that Malcolm was under foster care and hopeful that someone would embrace him - though almost blind, terribly anxious, hump-backed, bald legs, breast, cheeks...

HOPE brought Malcolm to my home on 15 January 2023 - which happened to be Malcolm's eleventh birthday.

The HOPE angels checked my apartment very carefully and pronounced baby-gates so Malcolm with his bad back would not climb the stairs to the second floor.

I was impressed. All that care for an old dog which most would not spare a glance for? I understood.

Malcolm was brought to me for the second time, this time for a trial stay. It was on 28 January, the seventh day of the lunar new year, Everybody's Birthday. 人日 (Renri) the day, according to Chinese, human beings were created.

The trial period of three months' passed, by which time I would have fought anyone wanting to take Malcolm from me.

Fortunately, HOPE deemed ours the forever home Malcolm so needed.

Malcolm has brought new energy to the place. Malcolm and Momo, who will turn 12 in June, are our twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Momo and Malcolm (Right)
Momo is energetic, Malcolm is sedate.

Momo is a frisky child, Malcolm is the dignified gent.

Momo trots briskly several kilometres on long walks. Malcolm rides on his Ferrari-red pram coming down for short walks when blind and anxious he would bop his wet nose on the legs of all human walkers, and yes, brother Momo too, and the pram as well for good measure. "Yup, all present, check, good to go."
Can you tell them apart?
Every Saturday is doggy party day when Malcolm and Momo meet to play with the other dogs of our wider family.

Every meal is eaten with dogs at either ends of a doggy table.

Every human meal finds Malcolm and Momo sitting at the main table on their own chairs - not to beg for scraps, mind you, but because they are family. 

Every television show is watched with Malcolm and Momo on the same sofa as Mummy and Daddy.

Malcolm is family.

(clockwise: Margaret, John, Momo and Malcolm)

Margaret Chan, actress-turned-educator. Best known for her roles in local play Emily of Emerald Hill and particularly, as the scene stealer Matriarch in Masters Of The Sea, Singapore's very first English soap on TV5.


Against All Odds

Malcolm was the first surrendered dog case that I helped as a volunteer. 

Malcolm, on the day his family gave up on him

The first thing that struck me about him (a senior 10-year-old poodle), was that he seemed to be very easily following me and letting the vet handled him with no signs of distress, despite his very sad physical condition (overgrown nails, bald patches of hair, and crusty bumps all over his skin, which had turned black at some parts), and the fact that his family had just left him with complete strangers. I soon realized that Malcolm's quiet nature and lack of response was really him being completely disconnected with his surroundings, a result likely of absolutely no interaction and complete neglect from his former family. To the extent that at first we even thought he was deaf (in addition having very limited sight due to permanent cornea scarring, which could be prevented with care).

It was only when his foster (Grace) continued to talk to him and engage with him (despite us telling her that he is deaf– she never gave up!), that he started to react slowly, and we found out he could actually hear. With all the love, care, and devotion from his foster, his hair slowly started growing back (showing us that his real coat was red!), and he even learnt to follow some vocal commands.

Malcolm's journey was not a smooth one, as from the very first days at his foster's house, he began to show signs of extreme separation anxiety (understandable as he had been suddenly given up by his family at the age of 10, which also resulted in him being separated from another dog that he grew up with). His anxiety showed up from him howling all night, to following humans around all over the house and being unable to settle down when left alone and peeing anywhere whenever he was excited or nervous. Despite these challenges, his foster continued to guide and he slowly became more and more himself.  So much so that a few months later, when I took him to meet a potential adopter, he gave me a few affectionate kisses (licks) on my hand and cheek.  I almost teared up as I realized the quiet silent sad lost-in-his-own-world dog had now blossomed into a confident dog who was now interacting with his surroundings, being himself and showing his love.

Malcolm & volunteer, Sukriti 

While a number of people approached us, it took us a while to find him a suitable home, given his number of issues. Not everyone can afford the commitment, and Malcom has anxiety issues that require medical intervention. One day, destiny smiled on Malcolm, and while on a serendipitous evening walk with him, his foster walked into an almost identical looking red poodle (Momo) and his owner Margaret, and they got talking. Soon after, she wrote to us expressing interest in adopting Malcolm. It turned out Margaret and her husband (along with their dog Momo) were the perfect family Malcolm had been waiting for. We are so grateful for them to have opened their home to Malcolm, and so very delighted that he has found his forever home. Despite being given up, suffering from high separation anxiety and being almost blind, he fought the odds and has finally found his family to enjoy his senior years. A big thanks also to his foster, who showered him with so much love and the HDR volunteers that supported along the way.