Professional Pet Sitter’s Week

If you use a pet sitter, send some flowers or a note this week to tell them how much you appreciate them caring for your pet while you’re gone!

Pet sitters do much more than just feed and water your pet while you are away. A professional pet sitter will spend quality time with your pet as well as provide play and exercise time. Pet sitters often will not only care for your pet, but will bring in your mail, water your plants and turn lights on and off to help deter crime.

A pet sitter offers both you and your pet many benefits.

Your pet gets:

  • the environment he knows best.
  • his same diet and routine.
  • relief from traveling to and staying in an unfamiliar place with other animals (such as a boarding kennel).
  • attention while you’re away.

You get:

  • the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional.
  • someone to bring in your newspaper and mail so potential burglars don’t know you’re away.
  • someone who will come to your home
  • other services, such as plant watering and pet grooming.

Just because someone has the title of professional pet sitter, doesn’t mean that they are qualified to care for your pet. Here are some things to look for when choosing a pet sitter.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, when looking for a pet sitter, you should keep these things in mind:

It’s important to learn all you can about prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services. Before selecting a pet sitter, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home. Find out the following:

  • Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
  • What training has the pet sitter received?
  • Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet, such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
  • Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
  • What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
  • Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training, and play time?
  • Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
  • If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
  • How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
  • Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?

Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from her references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring her for a pet-sitting job. Watch how she interacts with your pet—does your pet seem comfortable with the person?

To help your new pet sitter and your pet get accustomed to one another, you might want to take a weekend trip and see how everything works out. This will give you a better idea if your pet sitter and your pet are made for each other.

Have a Heart…It’s Valentine’s Day!

We all know it’s important to protect our own hearts, but what about your pet’s? Do you give your pet heartworm preventative on a regular basis? If not your pet could be at risk for infestation.

Heartworms are parasites that infect your pet through mosquito bites. They work their way to your pets heart where they live. Adult heartworms can reach a foot in length and can live for up to two years in your pet’s heart. The worms grow and multiply, infesting the chambers on the right side of the heart and the arteries in the lungs. The first sign of heartworm infestation may not show up for a year after infection, and even then the slight cough that increases with exercise may be dismissed as unimportant. But the cough worsens and eventually, your pet may actually faint from exertion; he tires easily, is weak and listless, loses weight and condition, and may cough up blood. Breathing becomes more and more difficult as the disease progresses.

Before starting a heartworm preventative, you should have your pet tested first. Starting a heartworm preventative after your pet has been infected can be deadly. Your veterinarian will draw some blood and might even do an x-ray to determine whether or not your pet has heartworms. If your pet has been infected with heartworms your vet will treat him.

Usually, all but the most advanced cases of heartworm disease can be successfully treated in dogs. Currently, there are no products in the United States approved for the treatment of heartworm infection in cats. Cats have proven to be more resistant hosts to heartworm than dogs, and often appear to be able to rid themselves of infection spontaneously.

Adult heartworms in dogs are killed using a drug called an adulticide that is injected into the muscle through a series of treatments. Treatment may be administered on an outpatient basis, but hospitalization is usually recommended. When the dog is sent home, exercise should be limited to leash walking for the duration of the recovery period, which can last from one to two months. This decreases the risk of partial or complete blockage of blood flow through the lungs by dead worms.

Re-infection during treatment is prevented by giving a heartworm preventive. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including daily and monthly tablets and chewables and monthly topicals. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when given properly on a regular schedule, heartworm infection can be prevented.

Protecting your pet’s heart is easy. So don’t forget to hug your pet today and give him his Heartgard, Interceptor or whatever heartworm preventative you use!

Pet-Proofing Your Home

Keeping your pets safe at home is pretty much like keeping your children safe. It’s something you have to do and it’s pretty easy to get it done if you keep it up on a regular basis. The first thing to realize is that if something happens to your pet or your pet tears up your favorite pair of shoes is that it’s not his fault, it’s YOURS. You left knives on the counter, you left a plate of food sitting on the table, and yes, you left your shoes lying under the bed. Pets are like young children, they don’t know any better, so it’s best just to predict the worst and do your best to prevent it.

The first thing to do is get a dog/cat’s eye view of your home. Get down on all fours and look around. Are there any dangling electric cords, loose nails, plastic bags or other tempting objects that will be in your pet’s reach? If there are, be sure to put them away immediately.

Next, clean your house! Keeping things picked up and put away (like your shoes!) will discourage your pet from making them chew toys. Make sure there are no small objects lying around where your pet can get them. These include things like coins, pins, needles, rubber bands, paper clips, staples, nails, screws, yarn, thread, dental floss, earrings and other small jewelry, bells and small balls.

If you don’t want your pet in a certain area of your house (like your bedroom) close the door or use a baby gate to keep him out.

Poisonous Items
This includes cleansers, dish soap, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, antifreeze, plants, etc. Keep all poisonous items out of reach, either in a locked cabinet or in an area your pet is not allowed, such as the garage or the basement. If you have a plant that is poisonous to your pet, consider getting something else instead. Even if it’s up high your cat can still get to it if he’s determined enough.
Puppies and cats alike learn about their world with their mouths. Chewing on things is natural. So if you have any exposed cords, either cover them up or spray them with a repellent, such as Bitter Apple to deter your pet from chewing on them. You also want to be careful of dangling cords, as your pet can pull on them and the next thing you know your antique lamp is shattered on the floor. You might even want to get those plug covers too!

Let’s face it, your pet loves to look out the window. To keep accidents from happening, keep the blinds open enough so that they are out of reach of your pet. If the cord hangs lower after you raise them, tack it up and out of your pet’s reach. Also try to keep breakable things or things that can easily be knocked over away from the windows (such as lamps). If you open your windows for your pet, make sure that the screen is properly installed and won’t fall out. Many pets are injured from falling out of windows.

The Bathroom
Not only are there poisonous medications in the bathroom, but there is also poisonous cleansers in the toilet bowl (if you use one of those drop-ins). Keep the toilet lid down and medications out of reach of your pet.

The Office
Keep your paper shredder either in a cabinet or unplugged when not in use or get one of these Safe Sense Shredders. Paper shredders can be deadly to your pet! I’ve seen where a dog’s tongue has gotten stuck in one and believe me it’s not a pretty sight!! Keep small supplies, such as paper clips, thumbtacks, erasers, etc. picked up and in a closed container or drawer so they cannot be easily spilled and eaten.

The Kitchen
Keep the counters clean and food free to discourage your pet from getting up there to get a tasty morsel. Also keep any sharp objects, such as knives put away in drawers. Keeping the trash can covered with a lid will also discourage your pet from going “trash can” diving. Keep spices, etc. put up as some can be deadly to your pet, such as onions and macademia nuts.

Remember if it’s not safe for your children, it’s not safe for your pet either!! Got other pet-proofing ideas? Let us know about them!

Free for All

Hey readers! We are so pleased that many of you have found our blog helpful in caring for your pets. We want to hear from you now! Do you have a question about caring for your pet? If you do, ask here and we will answer! Remember we have a veterinarian on staff to give the best advice we can.

NOTE: We cannot and will not diagnose your pet or prescribe any medications without a visit to the vet, so please don’t ask.

Tell us what you want to talk about!

Snow Dog!

Does your dog love snow this much?! Enter the monthly contest on* and you can win a $25 Gift Certificate. Just provide a picture of your pet having fun in the snow, a short story about your dog, your name, address, email and phone number.

*NOTE: You have to have a valid account to enter. Sign up for an account, it’s free.

Contaminated Pet Food Numbers Released

Recently, the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians released a survey saying that more than 300 animals have died from ingesting contaminated pet food earlier this year. The two contaminants, melamine and cyanuric acid, form crystals when brought together that can block the kidneys. Renal failure was the cause of death in most animals.

So does this mean that we should all shun manufactured pet food forever? Manufactured pet food provides your pet with a balanced diet that contains all of the essential vitamins and minerals. Feeding your pet a raw food diet can be daunting. Plus, how can you be sure that your pet is getting all of the vitamins and minerals that he needs?

Does anyone feed a raw food diet? Does it work for you? I would like to hear your stories.

The Great Crate Debate

Pug in a CrateMany people feel that crate training a dog is appalling and cruel. Yet there are many who swear by it. Let’s see what crate training is really about….

Some experts say that dogs have a natural denning instinct, which is why you almost always find them under something. If you’ve ever woke up in the morning to find your dog curled up under your comforter, this is the denning instinct; this also includes under the table, under your legs, or curled up in a corner. In the wild, dogs are pack animals, they raise their young in dens for safety and protection. This is what keeps the pack going.

Crate training plays on this natural instinct, when used properly the crate provides your dog with a safe, secure place to go when he is tired, stressed out or just needs a break from the kids for a bit. Not only that, but the crate can prevent him from harming himself (like eating things he’s not suppose to when you’re not home) or tearing up your furniture. Crate training is also a great tool for potty training. Most dogs will not soil “their space” and since they are in their crate, it also saves your carpet.

Some view crate training as cruel to a dog, well, it is if you leave your dog in it all day, then put him in it all night too. That much time in a small space isn’t good for anyone’s sanity. If you are doing this, you might need to reconsider having a dog. Your dog should be allowed out of his crate when you are home. If you can’t be home to let him out during the day, you might want to consider hiring a dog walker or taking him to doggie daycare (doggie daycare also allows him to socialize with other people and other dogs).

What if your dog gets ill and has to spend time at the vet’s office? He will be in a crate there. So if he’s already stressed out from being sick and then has to spend time in a crate and he’s not used to it, it will stress him out even more. If he’s used to being in a crate, it will offer him safety and security so that he can recover faster and be less stressed.

If you do a lot of traveling, a crate is the safest place for your dog to ride. It keeps him secure as well as off the steering wheel, gas peddle and everything else. If you fly and take your dog, he will have to be in an airline approved crate. If you all of a sudden shove him in one, he will be confused and stressed out because he doesn’t know what is going on, then of course put him in a plane and you’ll probably have one sick puppy!

So is crate training a good thing, yes, I feel it is, when it is used properly. But, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and whether you choose to use crate training or not is your personal preference. If you would like more information on how to crate train your puppy, please let me know!