Tips to Spot and Prevent Dehydration in Pets

dehydration-dogsWater. Do you even give it a second thought as you fill your pet’s bowl with it? You should. For all of us – humans, cats, dogs – water is what we’re made of. Depending on age and species, some 60 to 80 percent of the body is water.

The elixir of life is a vital nutrient that helps lubricate joints, transport nutrients through the bloodstream, regulate body temperature through respiration, flush waste materials out of the body by way of urine, cushion the brain and spinal cord and more. For all these reasons, it’s important to be sure that your dog or cat is getting enough.

How Low Can You Go?

When the body’s water content falls to drought levels, none of us – pets or people – can function properly. The body draws water out of cells in an attempt to satisfy its thirst and can become low on electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride and potassium, which affect muscle function and other processes. Excessive loss of water, beyond what water the body takes in, is what we refer to as dehydration.

Pets lose water for normal reasons: breathing, panting, peeing, pooping and evaporation through the paws and other parts of the body. They replenish it through eating and drinking. But just like humans, when they lose more water than they take in, they become dehydrated.

Dehydration is a common problem in pets. In fact, many cats are thought to exist in a state of chronic dehydration, because they don’t take in enough water. Two simple ways to increase your cat’s water intake are to have him drink from a fountain (many cats prefer moving water to still) and feed him canned cat food, which has a higher water content than dry food.

Dogs and cats can become dehydrated in a number of ways. Sometimes they aren’t eating or drinking enough to take in appropriate amounts. In a frustrating cycle, dehydration itself can cause appetite loss, so making sure a sick pet gets enough water is essential to helping him eat more. Dehydration can also result from vomiting and diarrhea or fever. Pets who become overheated lose water, too.

Some pets are more prone to dehydration than others. These include very young or small pets, such as puppies and kittens, as well as Toy breed dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers. Also at risk are older cats and dogs, pets who are nursing litters, and dogs or cats with diabetes, kidney disease and some types of cancer.

Signs of Dehydration

You’ve probably been dehydrated before. You’ve felt draggy, irritable, headachy – sound familiar? For pets, the signs of dehydration are similar, but they can’t tell us about it. Here’s what to look for that may signal the early stages of dehydration:

  • Your pet is tired or moving more slowly than normal.
  • He’s lost his appetite.
  • He’s panting (a sign in dogs).
  • His eyes appear sunken and dry.
  • His gums and nose are dry.

If a pet’s need for water isn’t met, the skin may become less elastic. Have you ever pinched the skin on the back of your hand to see how quickly it springs back into place? In humans, that’s an easy test for dehydration. You can do the same with your pet. With your thumb and forefinger, lift a small amount of skin on your dog or cat’s back. If the skin is low on moisture, it will fall back into place slowly instead of immediately snapping back.

Press your finger against the gums, then remove it. In a well-hydrated pet, the gums will look white and then return immediately to their normal pink color. If it takes longer for the gums to regain color, the pet may be dehydrated.

Dogs or cats who are severely dehydrated may have a weak rear end or wobbly walk. All of these signs mean your pet needs a trip to the veterinarian to determine what’s causing the dehydration and the best ways to get his fluid levels back to normal. When pets become dangerously dehydrated or aren’t capable of drinking enough on their own, they typically need to have an IV put in to drive lifesaving fluids. Other times, giving fluids subcutaneously is enough.

Pets Of The Week – Bear, Blue & Abby

AbbyAbby is always excited when her sitters Kim and Linda visit. When the sitters arrive she greets them with various welcoming sounds. Abby enjoys a good conversation and if you are lucky she will dance for you. Put on some good music and she will really put on a show by flipping upside down and fanning her wings. “Pretty Abby” we tell her. She eats up the praise for her beautiful display. We often leave the music channel on for her so she has a sense of company while we are not there. Abby shares her home with two Rag Doll cats named Bear and Blue, but they don’t bother her. While her sitter takes care of the cats Abby will squawk loudly to let them know that she is not getting enough attention.

Bear and Blue are sweet and gentle boys. Bear is the more outgoing cat and Blue is on the shy side, but both really enjoy their visits from Kim and Linda. Bear is the door greeter and will follow his sitter around the entire visit. Blue keeps his distance, but if he’s feeling confident he’ll engage in a good cuddle session. We look forward to our visits we these three.

 

Bear  blue

Why Does My Dog Like to Roll in Grass?

rollingrassEver wonder why your dog likes to roll around in grass? Sometimes he looks like he is having a good time, while other times he looks as if he is trying to rub something off of him.

The truth is, rolling in the grass probably serves several functions. It very well may be a way of getting rid of any sort of uncomfortable or itchy debris that might be stuck to your dog’s back, such as dirt, pine sap and bird droppings (sometimes birds have very good aim!). Grass is mildly abrasive. When we walk on it with bare feet, it kind of tickles, itches and maybe even feels a bit prickly. In a way, individual blades of grass can function a little like tines on a comb or bristles on a brush. Rolling around the grass may help loosen up dirt stuck to your dog’s back and help him self-groom difficult-to-reach areas. It may also help brush away loose fur clumps. Certain breeds of dog “blow” their coats, which means their fur sheds out in clumps. Rolling on a patch of grass might help comb out and remove some of that loose fur – although you shouldn’t think this behavior can replace your grooming sessions with him.

Canine Cologne?

Another reason your dog may be rolling is that there is a specific smell he has detected in a particular patch of grass. Some predators — and dogs are a predatory species — like to roll in certain smells. The speculation behind this particular behavior is that the new smell helps to disguise their scent from their prey. For example, a wolf or coyote may roll over a grass patch that a rabbit has eliminated in, effectively covering itself with the scent of its prey. Researchers believe this may allow the wolf or coyote to move closer to its prey, thus ensuring a more successful hunt. There also may be a social component to rolling, such as conveying a message to another member of the pack. The behavior might be a way to say, “Hey, I found a dead deer over there!”  Your dog, of course, may also be rolling to get rid of a smell, such as the scent of shampoo after you have bathed him or after being sprayed by a skunk.

Relaxation for Rover

dogrelaxFinally, your dog may roll in the grass simply because it feels good. Finding a soft area to cushion his body and stretch out may provide your dog with an ideal opportunity to scratch his back and soak up the sun. Observing your dog’s behavior can help you determine if your dog is merely relaxing in his environment or if there is something you need to attend to. A dog with something really irritating on his back may roll about more frantically than a dog who is just enjoying the warm grass. Consider how relaxed or intense your dog’s behavior is when he is doing it. A slow, relaxed roll from side to side with his legs kicking up in the air may be an indication of his emotional health and mental status, i.e., “I am happy.” Rubbing his face, neck or back with more energy or force may mean he is doing a little self-grooming or reacting to a smell.

Rolling behavior is common and generally nothing to be concerned about as outlined above. If, however, his behavior is very intense or repetitive or lasts a long time, you should consult your veterinarian in case it is a sign that something might be irritating him, such as an underlying a dermatologic condition.

Pets of the Week – Sarah Bear, Trixie Pixie and Sasha

june9Meet Sarah Bear, Trixie Pixie and Sasha, our featured pets of the week. Little Bay Pet Services sitters Kim, Luanne and Heather really enjoy visiting these sweet girls when their pet parents go on vacation.

Sarah Bear (black cat) is the congenial one of the group. She is guaranteed to be the first to greet our sitters when they arrive. She has a calm and loving temperament and looks forward to her decadent treat of cream during her sitters visit.

Trixie Pixie’s favorite thing to do is drink from the faucet. She prefers a fresh stream of H2O as many kitties do and will patiently wait for her sitter to turn on the water.

Sasha is the shy girl of the bunch but she has such a gentle demeanor. She likes the company but prefers to observe from a distance. Although each has their individual habits, jointly they love to bask in the sun and snooze in their beds. During the warmer months they enjoy sitting on the screened in porch taking in the fresh air. In addition they take great pleasure in year round bird watching. Their pet parents have several feeders for their viewing pleasure.

sasha sarahbear Trixie Pixie

7 Tips to Keep Your Pet Cool this Summer

dog-pantingAs the weather kicks it up a notch, the natural tendency can be to get everyone up and out of the house, pets included. While spending more time outdoors can be a great source of exercise and fun for all involved, it’s essential to be wary of heat exhaustion in your animals.

“Being covered by fur works well in the winter, but it can make it difficult to manage the heat of a summer day,” said Douglas Aspros, DVM and President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). “Both dogs and cats dissipate heat by panting [and] as they get overheated, they pant more quickly trying to maintain a safe internal temperature.”

Follow these tips for keeping your pet cool this summer.

1. Get the Details

There are two major reasons pets get overheated, hyperthermia and their upper respiratory systems. Hyperthermia occurs when animals are trapped in an environment (like a car or the beach on a hot day) that overwhelms their ability to cool themselves. Pets with compromised upper airways, like bulldogs, or an acquired condition like paralysis of the larynx have more difficulty removing heat in their bodies through panting. These animals often find that, in attempting to cool themselves, they generate more heat through exertion and can fall victim to heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive panting or labored breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling and mild weakness, according to the ASPCA. More severe symptoms can include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting and a body temperature of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Beat the Sun

Pets are smarter than we give them credit for, and prefer staying at home and laying on cool surfaces (like your tiled kitchen floor) in the heat of the day. Save your outdoor time with your pet for early in the morning or in the evening once the sun has set. By taking your daily walk, run or visit to the park either before or after the sun is at its hottest, the air will be easier for your pet to breathe and the ground will be cooler on the pads of their paws.

3. Find Some Shade

If you do find yourself out in midday with your pet, make sure you keep them out of direct sunlight or give them a shady place to get out of the sun. Remember, your pets don’t wear shoes, so the pads of their paws can be burned walking across particularly hot sand or asphalt. If it’s extremely warm, keep them indoors as much as possible.

4. Leave Fluffy and Fido at Home

“The classic mistake for owners is leaving a pet in a closed car on a sunny warm day when the temperature in your car can rapidly climb to over 140 degrees Fahrenheit,” Dr. Aspros said. “It’s solar heating that’s the culprit, so you can face serious risks even on a comfortable day.”

The takeaway? As much as your pet may love riding in the car or spending time with you, if it’s hot out and there’s a chance they’ll be uncomfortable the best thing to do is leave them alone. Panting takes more exertion than sweating and can bring your pet to respiratory distress faster than you think, Dr. Aspros said. Avoid any potential issue by keeping them safe and cool at home.

5. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

In addition to overheating, pets can get dehydrated quickly, so you’ll want to make plenty of fresh, clean water available to them. Panting is effective in allowing animals to cool down because it helps evaporate fluids from the respiratory tract. Help replace these fluids and prevent dehydration by leaving out water or water alternatives throughout the day, particularly when your pet has spent time outside in the heat. Water alternatives are especially great for pets since they replenish electrolytes and taste great.

6. Be Mindful of Certain Breeds, Conditions

If your pet is brachycephalic — or has a flat-shaped face — like Pugs, Pekingese, Boston terriers and Persian cats, they cannot pant as effectively and are more susceptible to heat stroke. Be especially careful with breeds like these in hot weather and keep plenty of water on hand, Dr. Aspros said. The ASPCA also advises that pets which are elderly, overweight and have heart or lung disease be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible in the heat.

7. To Trim or Not to Trim

Many pet owners, especially cat parents, incorrectly think that shaving their animals in the heat will help cool them down. In reality, the layers of your pet’s coat help to protect them from overheating and sunburn. Trimming long hair is perfectly okay, according to the ASPCA, but it’s unnecessary to do anything else for cooling purposes. Brushing your cat more often to help remove loose fur can also prevent overheating.

Pets Of The Week – Mac & Fenway

MacFenwayNewKim first met Mac eight years ago, making him the pet she has known the longest. Their relationship started when Mac’s owner called Little Bay Pet Services when he was just 6 months old. Mac had been going to doggie daycare but was asked to leave since he nipped the daycare attendant when she tried to put on his collar. I remember getting the phone call asking if I would be able to walk Mac 3 days a week. I was very new in my business, but excited to give Mac a chance despite his nipping. To this day, the owner and I laugh as we talk about our initial “Meet & Greet” and how Mac was chewing on the table legs as we talked. Over the years, Mac and I have developed an amazing relationship. Every time I arrive at his house to walk him, he greets me with undeniable love and happiness.

Fenway became a part of the household as an 8 week old puppy many years later. Mac took him under his wing and today they are best buddies. Unlike Mac, who thinks he’s a lap dog, Fenway thinks he’s is a big dog in a small body when out on walks. At home though, he’s more like a cat. He always find the sunniest spot in the house to sleep. Fenway is not fond of inclement weather, so he will play dead when I arrive in hopes that I won’t take him outside. Sometimes he hides on me and it’s a game to “find Fenway.” Both are extremely loving dogs who hold a very special place in my heart.

Kim Dumont, Owner, Little Bay Pet Services

Fenway1  Fenway2
Mac1  Mac2

10 Ways To Remove Ticks From Your Dog

remove-ticksIt’s no fun having to remove ticks from your dog during the spring and summer months. Not only are these blood-suckers nasty to look at, all filled up with your pet’s hard won blood as they are, they are also notoriously difficult to dislodge, making it so you have to get up close and personal in order to assure success. Because left too long or not removed entirely, these buggers can cause some serious diseases. So, what can you do to keep your dog tick-free this season? Here are a few ideas to consider.

Spot-on Treatments

Using an over the counter spot-on medication that you purchase from your veterinarian, pet store, or online can be a very effective method for controlling both ticks and fleas. These medications are effective at keeping parasites at bay for up to a month. While these medications are great, you still need to be very careful about which one you use. Make sure you read all labels carefully, and if you have any doubts, be sure to get advice from your veterinarian before application.

Oral Medications

Pills that are given once a month are readily available for dogs. These medications can work to kill both ticks and immature fleas and will disrupt the life cycle of fleas. They are easy to give and you won’t have to be concerned about small children and cats coming into contact with dogs immediately after application, as you might with spot-on treatments.

Shampoos

Bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on contact. This can be an inexpensive (though labor-intensive) method of protecting your dog during the peak tick season. You will need to repeat the process more often, about every two weeks, as the effective ingredients won’t last as long as a spot-on or oral medication.

Tick Dips

A dip is a concentrated chemical that needs to be diluted in water and applied to the animal’s fur with a sponge or poured over the back. This treatment is not meant to be rinsed off after application. The chemicals used in dips can be very strong, so be sure to read the labels carefully before use. You should not use a dip for very young animals (under four months) or for pregnant or nursing pets. Ask your veterinarian for advice before treating puppies, or pregnant or nursing pets.

Tick Collars

Collars that repel ticks are an additional preventive you can use, though they are mainly only useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. The tick collar needs to make contact with your dog’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto the dog’s fur and skin. When putting this type of collar on your dog, you will need to make sure there is just enough room to fit two fingers under the collar when it’s around the dog’s neck. Cut off any excess length of collar to prevent your dog from chewing on it. Watch for signs of discomfort (e.g., excessive scratching) in case an allergic reaction to the collar occurs. Make sure you read the labels carefully when choosing a collar.

Powders

Another method of topical medication, tick powders work to kill and repel ticks from your dog. These powders should be used with care during application. Be sure that the powder you are using is labeled for dogs before use, as well as for your dog’s specific age. Also, make sure you check the label to make sure that the product is designed to kill ticks as well as fleas. This very fine powder can be an irritant to the mouth or lungs if inhaled, so use small amounts and slowly rub it into the skin. Keep powders away from the face and eyes when applying. You will need to reapply the product more often, about once a week during peak season. Some powders can also be used in areas where your dog sleeps, and in other parts of the household your dog frequents.

Tick Sprays

Another topical application of medication, tick spray kills ticks quickly and provides residual protection. Sprays can be used in between shampoos and dips, and when you are planning to spend time out in wooded areas — where ticks are most prevalent — with your dog. Be careful when using this product, and other tick control products, around your dog’s face, and do not use it on or around any other animals in the home.

Treat the House and Lawn

Keeping your lawn, bushes, and trees trimmed back will help reduce the population of fleas and ticks in your backyard. If there are fewer areas for these parasites to live and breed, there will be fewer of them to be concerned with. If you still have a problem, consider using one of the various household and yard sprays or granular treatments that are available from your veterinarian, pet store, or local garden center. Just be careful when using these products, as they can be harmful to animals, fish, and humans. If you have a severe problem or you are concerned about the proper handling of these chemicals, you might want to consider hiring an exterminator to apply yard and area sprays to control the ticks and fleas.

Check your Dog(s)

After a romp outside in areas where ticks could be lurking, be sure to carefully check your dog for ticks. Look between the toes, inside the ears, between the legs (in the “armpits”), and around the neck, deep in the fur. If you find any ticks before they have had a chance to attach and become engorged, you may have prevented serious illness for your pet. If you do find a tick attached to your dog, removal should be done immediately and carefully, making sure to get all parts of the tick’s body removed from the skin.

Keep Dog(s) Indoors

While you do have to take your dog outside a few times a day, it is probably not a good idea to allow him to stay outside for extended periods during the height of tick season. Preventing your dog from roaming through wooded areas where ticks are likely to be lying in wait is a very effective way of keeping your pet safe from exposure, but you will still have to check your dog over thoroughly, even after short walks through grass and brush. You may still have a few ticks wandering around your yard, but if you keep things tidy and use preventives for when your dog does go out and check your dog over for any rogue ticks that might have attached themselves, your dog should have minimal risk of becoming a meal for ticks this summer.

Pets of the Week: Stoli & Chaquitos

stoli-chaquitosMeet Stoli and Chaquitos, our featured “Pets of the Week.” Little Bay Pet Services has had the pleasure of taking care of Stoli and Chaquitos since 2008 when their pet parents go on vacations.

Stoli is a very regal cat who loves to play with string. He is a very friendly boy and enjoys visits with his pet sitter Kim.

Chaquitos is a beautiful Maine Coon cat with a sweet, but shy personality. Her favorite activity is to chase the kitty laser light. Stoli is wise to the fact that this is an ongoing game and knows where the light source is coming from, but likes to observe from a distance. Their favorite is game is to hide all of their toys under the furniture and watch as Kim digs them out one by one.

Stoli
Chaquitos

Pet-sitter Precautions: Getting Vacation Peace Of Mind

pets-vacation

Don’t let setting up reliable care for dogs, cats, birds and other pets be an afterthought

When vacations beckon, finding reliable care for a beloved family pet is too often an afterthought, a detail to be left to a friend, neighbor or the teenager down the block.

It shouldn’t be, experts warn, and disasters can and do happen.

But with the right planning, a family holiday can be as enjoyable for the pets who stay home as it is for their traveling humans, said Beth Stultz, spokeswoman for the North Carolina-based Petsitters International, an educational organization for pet sitters with nearly 7,000 client businesses in 27 countries.

“There’s a misconception that anyone can care for a pet, but it’s a lot tougher than it appears,” Stulz said.

Find a sitter who is experienced with animals, trained in basic first aid and insured, she said, and even if you know the person, it’s a good idea to have a signed contract with expectations clearly stated.

Rachel Bowers, owner of pet-sitting company Brooklyn Bark in Brooklyn, New York, says, “Friends often offer to help, but they tend to be flaky and bail at the last minute, or they show up but really don’t understand that dogs need to go out three times a day and cats need their litter changed regularly,” she said.

What to do with a pet while you’re out of town depends on the type of animal and its temperament. Many people see their pets as family members and take them along on vacations.

But other animals don’t take well to travel: for example, dogs who suffer from motion sickness or stranger anxiety, or breeds prone to respiratory problems.

Kennels are a popular option, and range from modest to full-scale resorts. And then there is a home setting, either yours or that of a pet-sitter.

A place like home

“Some kinds of dogs — like older or very young dogs, or dogs with special issues — are better off being cared for at home,” said John Caro, owner of Camp Bow Wow, a “vacation camp” for dogs in Stamford, Conn. “If they don’t do well in a play area with other dogs, home is probably the best choice.”

Many pet owners ask sitters to visit frequently or spend the night in their home, or housesit to care for pets full time.

As for first aid, “If your pet is diabetic or older, make sure the pet sitter is comfortable and experienced with that,” she said. Make sure the pet-sitter can deal with emergencies.

And book well in advance, advised Bowers, of Brooklyn Bark. “There’s always the guy who calls while changing planes and says he totally forgot to figure out pet care – we don’t recommend that,” she said.

For the many people who turn to people they know for pet care, Caro said to choose “a responsible adult with good common sense, because things can get dangerous very fast.”

Benefits of Using a Pet Sitter

Using a professional pet sitter reaps benefits for both pets and pet parents.

Once you experience professional pet care in your home, you’ll never worry about being away from your pet again.

For the Pets:

Benefits to your pets include:

  • Staying at home in his/her safe, secure environment
  • Being surrounded by familiar sights, smells and sounds
  • Following his/her regular diet and exercise routine
  • Having play time
  • Receiving love and personal attention
  • Maintaining medical treatment, when required
  • Having someone responsible in case of an emergency
  • Eliminating the trauma of travel or an unfamiliar environment
  • Helping to ensure good health (no exposure to other animals’ illness or parasites)

For the Pet Parent:

Benefits to you include:

  • Knowing that your pet is in caring, loving hands
  • Having the confidence that the pet sitter can deal with other issues – such as grooming, vet visits
  • Eliminating the trauma of having to transport and leave your pet
  • Not having to impose on family, friends or neighbors
  • Feeling your home is more secure (with someone going in and out several times a day)

Not all pet sitters are created equal, nor are they all professional.  In hiring a pet sitter, it is important to make sure you have chosen the right person to care for your beloved animal.

Why should you choose a NAPPS pet sitter? 

Because not every pet sitter is equally professional and competent.

  • NAPPS pet sitters have made an investment in their clients and their business.
  • NAPPS pet sitters who also volunteer for NAPPS show that they are taking a leadership role in the pet sitting industry.
  • NAPPS members can network with pet sitters across the country to get ideas, ask questions, and stay informed.
  • NAPPS pet sitters have free education and resources at their fingertips which they can use to take the very best care of your pets.
  • NAPPS promotes their members’ professional integrity through its Pledge of Professional Conduct.
  • NAPPS also advances members’ professional and business development through an Annual Conference, educational tools and a certification program.