Back to School? Don’t Forget the Pets

Kids heading back to school? A new school year might be exciting for students — and maybe a relief to moms and dads — but for the pets, such a big shakeup in the family routine can be seriously upsetting. Here are a few tips to help ease the back-to-school transition for your four-legged family members.

 

1. Get Them Used to Being Alone

Your pets have had all summer to get used to the kids’ company. Now, between school and extracurricular activities, they’re faced with barely seeing their favorite little people on weekdays. While it’s natural for your pets to miss the kids, sudden separation from them can cause anxiety in both cats and dogs.

Help avoid this by gradually getting them used to being alone. A couple of weeks before school starts, begin leaving the pets at home for a period of time. Each day, stay away a little longer until you’re gone for the amount of time they’ll be on their own. Be sure to introduce the same conditions they’ll face once school starts. For example, if you plan to crate or confine them during the day, do so during this stage as well.

2. Provide Entertainment

You wouldn’t want to be stuck at home alone with nothing to do all day, and neither do your pets. Provide plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied. Hide small treats inside puzzle toys for dogs. For cats, tuck goodies away in clever hiding spots around the house so they can hone their hunting skills. If they’ll be left alone for the entire day, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to stop in and provide company for a few minutes each day.

3. Get Them Used to School Supplies

Both cats and dogs can be wary of new items showing up. Cats especially are territorial and may resent the sudden appearance of book bags, sporting equipment, musical instruments and other back-to-school stuff — and they may express their displeasure in destructive ways. Try rubbing your kitty’s scent on a new backpack or trumpet case to help prevent any issues. Wipe your cat’s mouth area with a rag, and then rub the rag on the item. Also, allow cats and pups alike to sniff and inspect all of the new things.

4. Establish Playtime for Pets and Kids

Of course, pets need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, both of which will go a long way toward helping them behave during the day. Giving them regular attention also helps reassure them that they’re not forgotten when you leave. You can kill two birds with one stone by allowing time in the evenings for the whole family to play with the pets. This might include taking the dog on family walks after dinner, or trailing Kitty’s favorite toy around the house while he gives chase.

Winter Weather Precautions

Freezing temperatures and inclement weather are a threat to not only humans, but pets as well, so Pet Sitters International (PSI) advises pet owners to take some simple precautions this winter to ensure their pets stay safe.

PSI, the world’s leading educational association for professional pet sitters, advises pet owners to only use the services of professional pet sitters for their pet-care needs and to discuss winter weather preparations and policies with their pet sitters.

“Professional pet sitters have the knowledge and credentials to provide quality care for pets, regardless of season,” explained Patti J. Moran, PSI president and founder. “However, in many areas the winter brings unique challenges and it’s important that pet owners and their pet sitters are on the same page regarding protocols for pet care when temperatures or outside conditions become dangerous.”

PSI advises pet owners to follow these tips:

Know your pet sitter’s inclement weather plan. Most professional pet sitters offer pet-sitting services year-round in all types of weather, but make sure your professional pet sitter has your emergency contact on file should treacherous conditions or impassable roads prevent the pet sitter from reaching your home.

Keep pets inside as much as possible. Young, old and short-haired pets are more vulnerable to cold weather and should not be left outside unsupervised, and some pets may require warm clothing if they are going to go outside. Pets should not be kept outside in below-freezing temperatures, as both cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Consult your veterinarian for additional guidance on pet safety in extreme temperatures.

Discuss exercise options with your pet sitter. When temperatures drop, your pet sitter or dog walker may need to shorten your pet’s walk or engage your pet in an alternate activity such as indoor play time. Stephanie Novak, owner of Pet Au Pair in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., said, “[On frigid days] I tell my clients that I will only keep their dogs out long enough to ‘do their business’ and then play indoors with them for the remainder of the time. I also have an established relationship with two vets in the area. If I am at all doubtful on a particular day, I call them for advice.”

Watch out for chemicals. Ice-melting chemicals and salt can irritate and burn the pads of your pet’s paws, so thoroughly wipe off your pet’s paws upon returning inside. Also be sure to thoroughly clean up any antifreeze spills and store household chemicals out of paw’s reach, since antifreeze is poisonous to pets.

Discuss emergency care with your pet sitter. Ask any potential pet sitter if he or she has been trained in pet first aid, and provide your pet sitter with signed authorization to take your pet to the veterinarian in the case of an emergency. Make your veterinarian aware of the arrangement and be sure your pet sitter has up-to-date contact information for your preferred veterinarian.

Don’t just hire a pet lover. “Often times, pet owners, and even news outlets, use the term ‘pet sitter’ carelessly, referring to anyone—from a family friend to the neighborhood teenager asked to check in on your pet—as a ‘pet sitter,’” Moran said. “It is important that pet owners understand that pet sitting is a professional career and professional pet sitters offer peace of mind that other pet-care options cannot.”

Back-to-School Separation Anxiety

In households with school-aged kids, summers are typically full of fun for everyone in the family – including the dog. But what happens when the kids head back to school in the late summer and the house is suddenly quiet and lonely?

With this sudden change in daily routine, your dog  may experience depression or separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from the people they’re attached to.

Signs your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety include destructive or anxious behaviors like:

  • Howling
  • Chewing
  • Pacing
  • Housesoiling
  • Attempting to escape from the house or yard

The good news is there are things you can do to help relieve your pup’s distress. The Oregon Humane Society offers these tips to help your dog overcome the “back-to-school blues.”

  • Schedule an appointment with your vet. Your dog’s anxiety might have an underlying medical cause or your vet might have some additional ideas to help relieve your dog’s stress.
  • Consider preparing Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or some other favorite treat. Working to get the treat out will provide your dog a distraction from his stress and hours of enjoyment and mental stimulation while you’re gone.
  • Check out some doggie day cares in your area. A day or two of supervised play and exercise may be beneficial to your lonely dog.
  • Take your pooch for long morning walks to get him plenty of exercise and tire him out.
  • Spend quality time with your dog when you are at home; include him in family activities to assure him he’s still an important part of the family.

This article courtesy of PetFinder.com

Last-Minute Summer Trip – Tips For Pet Owners

Travelers planning last-minute summer trips can book hotel stays and plane tickets in a snap thanks to sites like Expedia and booking apps such as HotelTonight, but for pet owners, there is one important item on the checklist that can take some time: securing reliable pet care.

Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters, offers pet owners this word of advice: While vacations can be booked with one click, finding a quality pet-care option isn’t as simple as hiring anyone who has a profile on an online directory and claims to be a pet lover.

PSI encourages pet owners to only use the services of professional pet sitters for their pet-care needs this summer and throughout the year.

“With so many new websites and apps advertising pet sitters and dog walkers, it can be difficult for pet owners to know who they can trust,” explained PSI Vice-President Beth Stultz. “It’s important that pet owners understand that there are professional pet-sitting and dog-walking businesses that offer peace of mind that other pet-care options cannot.”

PSI advises pet owners to take a closer look to ensure they are hiring not just a pet lover, but a pet lover who is also a true pet-care professional.

To simplify the selection process, PSI offers a free pet-sitter interview checklist and encourages pet owners to visit its Pet Sitter Locator, the largest online directory of professional pet sitters.

PSI encourages pet owners to ask seven important questions when interviewing potential pet sitters:

  1. Does the pet sitter have the proper business license for your city or state, if required?
  2. Is the pet sitter insured and bonded?
  3. Can the pet sitter provide proof of clear criminal history?
  4. Does the pet sitter provide client references?
  5. Will the pet sitter use a pet-sitting services agreement or contract?
  6. Is the pet sitter a Certified Professional Pet Sitter (CPPS™) and/or has he or she participated in pet-care training, such as pet first aid?
  7. Is the pet sitter a member of a professional and educational association, such as Pet Sitters International?

PSI’s 2016 Pet Sitter of the Year Carrie Feinberg, owner of Safe Haven Advocate Pet Care & Photography in Elgin, Illinois, encourages pet owners to book as early as possible.

“I am always recommending that clients schedule as far in advance as possible due to our high demand during not only the summer months and holidays, but also in September and October,” Feinberg said.

Article Courtesy of Pet Sitters International

Winter Hazards and Holiday Dangers To Pets

Dear Pet Parents,

The cold weather is here and the holidays are fast approaching. It’s that time of the year to take extra precautions to keep our fur babies safe from winter hazards and holiday dangers.

Winter Hazards

  • Hypothermia: Your pet may look warm and cozy in its fur coat but they are still prone to hypothermia and frostbite. When the body temperature of a cat or dog drops below the normal range of 100-102.5 degrees (with an approximate +/- 0.5 degree differential) they begin to suffer from hypothermia. Please keep your pets indoors during the winter months. Although your German Shepherd, Husky or Bernese Mountain dog may welcome the snow and colder weather, other dogs will feel its effects. If you have a puppy, short-haired dog, older dog (7+) or a sick dog please leave a coat for your dog. Your dog’s walk with its sitter will be much more comfortable when toasty warm.
  • Antifreeze: This brightly colored car coolant is often appealing to your dog or cat due to its sweet taste but be aware…It is poisonous and often lethal.
  • Cars: Cats often like to snuggle up to the cars exhaust while it’s idling or hide under the hood. They risk being run over by the car once it starts moving or getting tangled up in the engine’s parts. Also snow piles can cause a barrier not allowing drivers to see your pets.
  • De-Icers/Rock salt: Choose pet safe ice-melting products for your walkway/driveway this winter. Regular ice-melting products or rock salt used to treat town roads is irritating and can chap your pet’s paws. If consumed in sufficient quantities the result can be “salt poisoning.” If the roads have been treated your sitter will wipe your pet’s paws off with a wet paper towel or cloth after their walk to ensure the safety of your family member.
  • Rodenticides: Mouse and rat poisons are one of the most commonly seen toxicities seen by animal hospitals and veterinarians. When the weather turns cold the rodents tend to seek shelter in human spaces. In an effort to keep rodents out of our offices and homes we put out poison. Unfortunately our pets find them too.

Holiday Dangers

  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes (& raisins) No fruit cake for Fido!
  • Medications
  • Xylitol ( found in chewing gum)
  • Tinsel ( Fun for kitty but can be dangerous)
  • Holiday ornaments
  • Plants (Fake poinsettias please)
  • Electrical cords
  • Liquid potpourri

Winter Reminders

  • If you plan on traveling during the winter months please arrange for your driveway to be plowed so your sitter can access your house easily and in a timely manner. If you would like to leave Little Bay Pet Services the name of your plow person/company that would be helpful.
  • Providing a shovel for your sitter in case they need to clear a path to your door.
  • Make sure the entrance your sitter typically uses is accessible once the snow deepens.
  • Adjusting the heat in your home to a comfortable temperature before you leave for vacation is important especially for clients with small animals, reptiles and birds.
  • Provide Little Bay Pet Services the name & number of your heating company in case there is a problem.
  • Leave a key with a neighbor that can easily access your home I case the sitter physically can’t get to your house due to a storm or down power lines.
  • Let us know where we should take your pet(s) if there is a prolonged power outage and your animals can not stay in the home.
  • Make sure your pet has an ample amount of food, treats, medication and litter (if applicable) for the time you will be away.

The Pet Sitters of Little Bay Pet Services thank you in advance for providing us with the tools necessary to give your pets the best care possible!

We wish you a happy December filled with good Cheer!

Pet Of The Week – Maggie

maggie4Maggie

We were living in Hong Kong when Maggie came into our lives. I had a dog with heart problems so we frequented the vet. During one of my vet visits, I heard this screaming meow like I’d never heard before and had to inquire. The vet staff brought me to a 4 month old feral kitten with both eyes sewn shut. A woman found this kitten with her left eye in terrible shape from some type of attack…human or animal. We had just adopted another cat named Tycoon and we were hesitant to take on a third pet, but we decided we could give her a loving family. She had one more round of operations on her eyes and we took her home.

We kept trying to think of a Chinese name to match Tycoon but nothing was fitting for this tiny kitten. We did the recommended cat introduction by keeping her in a separate room and letting her and Tycoon get to know each other by sniffing under the door. Maggie got tired of being locked up and skirted out when set free. She proceeded to yell in Tycoon’s face and marched herself over to his food bowl. She loudly announced, “I’m in charge now!” We decided we would call her Margaret Thatcher or Maggie for short.

Maggie is now 16 and has lived in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Chicago, Texas, Florida and now New Hampshire. She even understands certain Cantonese words. She’s never weighted over 5 lbs and I’m pretty sure it is all lungs. Maggie’s meow is well known. My landlord wants me to donate her to science so they can study her lungs.

Maggie’s primary pet sitter is Tiffany and she has never loved a pet sitter as much as Tiffany and her son.

Maggie’s owner Bonnie

maggie   maggie   maggie

Ask the Vet: Can I Prep My Pet for Winter?

dogs-winterQ: How can I best prepare my cat and dog for the colder weather?

A: Most pets are able to tolerate most weather in the colder months, as long as they have had time to acclimate. Extreme weather conditions are an exception. If extreme cold or severe weather is headed your way, pets should be kept indoors if possible. In general, though, if your pets spend most of their time inside or in the warmer climates, you will need to shelter them from the cold or introduce them to the lower temperatures gradually.

Be sure your pets’ feet are clean and dry every time they come inside, either from a trip to the yard to potty or from a long walk. If moisture and/or salt gets on an animal’s paws, he may lick them excessively, which can lead to irritations and infections. Rinsing and drying the feet after each walk is always a good idea.

Keep in mind, antifreeze is a deadly toxin to pets. Most contain ethylene glycol, which will severely damage the kidneys — even in small amounts. Keep this product out of reach in your garage, be sure your radiators are not leaking and keep your pets away from puddles in the winter (and in the summer). You never know if someone’s radiator was leaking on the street.

During the holidays, vets see more foreign-body ingestions than at any other time of the year. Thanksgiving brings ingested bones and Christmas brings tinsel, foreign bodies and chocolate toxicity. Pet-proofing the house just as you would for small children is always a good idea.

Winter should be fun and exciting, but a little bit of caution will go a long way toward helping to keep your pets safe through the season.

Article Courtesy of VetStreet

Why Are So Many Millennials Opting For Pets Instead of Parenthood?

dog-ownerWhen they say there’s two types of people in this world, cat-people and dog-people, I fall staunchly in support of the pooch. It seems, cat and dog people also tend to self-segregate because in the last year since I finally adopted my own four-legged fur baby I’ve had five close friends pick my brain about the cost of being a dog mom. Lucky for them, it’s not a guess. I know, down to the penny, how much my 8-year-old Jack Russell Terrier mix has cost me.

Considering how millennials tend to be delaying traditional life milestones like marriage, home-buying and baby making, it’s no surprise that millennials are adopting more pets: 35% as compared with 32% of Boomers, according to research firm GfK. Fifty-seven percent of millennial households own a dog versus 51% of all U.S. households. And we have our reasons for treating our pets like surrogate children.

Reason 1: Money

Dogs are not cheap. Type “average cost of raising a dog” into Google and you’ll get hits with American Kennel Club stats like $2,674 for the first year of raising a small dog, with its giant breed counterpart averaging $3,536. The ASPCA significantly drops the cost down to $1,580 for a medium-sized dog.

Both of these estimates are, however, significantly less than I’ve spent on my admittedly spoiled dog, Mosby. Even though Mosby is a senior rescue, the start-up price just to bring him home cost $400 (much higher than going through ASPCA), then an additional $200 to purchase his New York City dog license, register his microchip and buy some basic supplies. Thirteen months later I’ve spent just over $5,000 on Mosby’s happiness and well-being. He is fed expensive dog food that costs about $35 a month and I’ve purchased some silly products we’ve never really used – like a paw plunger to clean his feet after walking around on slushy New York City sidewalks. But the big reasons for that hefty number were an unexpected surgery and his many trips to the dog sitter when I’m traveling (or paying for him to fly with me).

Even with Mosby being a real budget-buster, which I’m always sure to disclose to friends interested in becoming a dog parent, he is still a lot cheaper than a baby.

A 2013 report from the USDA averaged the annual cost of raising a child for a two-parent, middle-income family to be $12,800 to $14,970 depending on the age of the child. If you live in the urban Northeast, make that $282,480 to raise a child to 18 — not to mention the healthcare costs attached to pregnancy and delivery as well as the unpaid maternity/paternity leave many parents face.

Reason 2: Freedom

Dogs need heaps of love and attention, but not constant monitoring like a human child. It isn’t considered an abusive (or illegal) practice to leave your pup at home alone while you head off to work. Parents don’t have the luxury to do this with a child. Kids need to be watched all the time and the price tag of childcare runs from about $720 per month to $2,230 depending on the type of care a parent selects.

Not to mention needing a babysitter for date nights, ladies’ nights out, or just because you wanted to go do something spur of the moment. A dog affords the self-indulgent option to “just go out,” assuming the pup has been cared for first and, yes, there is a clock on getting home before he defecates in the house, but it doesn’t have to cost extra.

Then again, those who hire a dog walker for seven days a week or drop off the fur baby at a doggie day care may indeed end up shelling out about the same as the low-end cost of childcare.

Reason 3: Parenting practice

First comes love, then comes getting a dog together. Raising a dog can help committed couples who are either married or heading towards a future with a baby learn some parenting 101. At the very least, it gives you some insights into how your partner may be as a parent.

My long-term partner and I don’t co-habitat, but we do co-raise Mosby. Peach (my boyfriend) often takes Mosby when I’m out of town and always walks and feds him when I’m working late. We learned to adjust our schedules around making sure Mosby didn’t get left alone for too long at any given time. It’s been interesting for us to see how the other reacts in tense situations, like Mosby getting hurt, now that a living creature depends on us.

Those who adopt a puppy deal with the sleep deprivation in those early weeks when you’re being kept up late with whining and howling during crate training, wake up every few hours to let the dog out to ensure it becomes house broken and deal with the mess of cleaning up accidents or finding expensive shoes have been chewed.

Same but different

Of course, dogs and babies aren’t the same. Many a mother has bristled at those who dare to compare fur babies to humans. However, for those in a phase of life where the thought of nurturing a child seems too stressful or financially cumbersome – a dog is a perfect companion. A dog provides unconditional love, can be great for your mental and physical health, and helps you learn more about your partner if you’re headed towards those often procrastinated millennial life stages of marriage and baby making.

Article courtesy of Erin Bowry, the founder of BrokeMillennial.com

Pets Of The Week – Cassie & Daisy

Cassie & Daisy

Fun loving cousins!

Little Bay Pet Services has been walking Cassie for more than two years now on a weekly basis since she was a puppy. Cassie is an extremely quiet, yet sweet West Highland Terrier. She excitedly waits at the top of the stairs when her pet sitter Linda arrives…with her tail always wagging! She is always happy to head out for a walk. There is a pond nearby that she likes to venture to also.

In the spring and summer months, she enjoys watching the baby geese that have just been born. She is also intrigued by the chipmunks scurrying in the woods. She enjoys meeting humans, especially children along the way. Loud cars and big dogs are a little scary, but small dogs are her friends. If the weather is inclement, Cassie is just as happy to engage in a game of “chase the toy” indoors.

Cassie has so much fun when her cousin Daisy visits! Daisy is the more vocal of the two dogs. She has a lot to tell her pet sitter. Daisy and Cassie play hard in the yard when Daisy spends the week with the family. Cassie really enjoys the company. At the end of the visit Cassie especially looks forward to her treat…a kong filled with peanut butter.

cassie  cassie2  cassiedaisy

Don’t Make These 5 New Dog Owner Mistakes

puppy-bathI love meeting first-time dog owners. They’re so enthusiastic about their pups — or their adult dogs, if they’ve adopted from a shelter. I want to do everything I can to make sure they get off on the right paw with their new pet.

Because I talk to so many of them, I see some of the same mistakes over and over. They probably don’t seem like mistakes, especially to a new pet parent, but they sure can cause problems with a dog’s health and behavior in the long run. If you have just acquired a dog or know someone who has, here are five common mistakes new dog owners make and my doggy do-list for doin’ it right.

Doggy Don’ts

1. They’re not hands-on

Dogs need lots of handling throughout their lives. They’ll be visiting the veterinarian — at least I hope so! — and maybe seeing a groomer. They’ll meet kids, neighbors and strangers who may want to pet them — with permission, of course. They need to have their teeth brushed and their nails trimmed, and they will likely need to take pills or other types of medication. The best thing you can do to prepare your dog for all of this necessary attention is to get him used to having all parts of his body handled. He should be willing to let you touch him anywhere, including his paws and more private areas.

This is an easy thing to practice every day. While he’s lying next to you or on your lap as you watch television, handle his paws, grasping them firmly but kindly. Look inside his ears or give them a sniff. Lift up his tail and check out his behind. Stroke his belly and give the groin area a going-over. Lift his lips and look at his teeth. You get the idea. This is also a way for you to learn what’s normal so you can monitor his body condition and catch problems early.

Start brushing his teeth on day one. The earlier he’s accustomed to it, the more accepting he’ll be of it as a normal part of his life. Same with trimming his nails. Do one or two nails a day, just barely shaving off the edge. Be careful not to “quick” him.

To get him used to taking medication, pinch off bits of Pill Pockets or cheese and give as treats. When he needs to have one with a pill tucked inside, he’ll usually accept it eagerly.

2. They don’t measure food

Of course it’s important for puppies to grow, but we don’t want them to grow too much or too fast. That can put undue pressure on their still-forming musculoskeletal structure, which can lead to orthopedic problems later in life.

Talk to your veterinarian about the best type of food for your dog. Growing large breeds can benefit from diets that permit slow but steady growth, while small dogs tend to need energy-dense foods. In either case, it’s important to measure your dog’s food and give it at specific times rather than free feeding (leaving food out all the time). This helps ensure that he doesn’t eat too much and become overweight.

3. They don’t use food puzzles

I tell people to throw out their dog’s food dish. Instead, exercise his brain and body by feeding him using a food puzzle or food-dispensing device. Measure out the appropriate amount of food, place it in the toy and watch him “hunt” for his meals by pushing or otherwise manipulating it to get the food out. This is a great way to keep him busy while you’re at work and to make sure he gets some physical activity and mental stimulation.

4. They don’t take house-training seriously.

One of the most common reasons dogs are given up to shelters is for behavior problems — and one of those problems is pottying in the house. That’s heartbreaking because it’s such a simple problem to prevent. All it takes is scheduling, consistency, praise and rewards. Take your dog out at specific times: first thing after he wakes up, after every meal, after playtime and just before bedtime. During the day, set a timer to go off every two to four hours after the previous potty time to remind you to take him out again. Go out with him. If you don’t, he won’t know why he’s out there because you won’t be there to say “Good potty!” when he does his business. Then let him have a little playtime. He won’t want to pee and poop right away if all you’re going to do is drag him back inside once he’s done.

When he’s in the house, prevent accidents. Don’t give a young or new dog the run of the house right away. Keep him where you can watch him. If you can’t watch him, put him in his cozy crate, exercise pen or small dog-proofed room (I like a laundry room or bathroom). As he gets older, he’ll be more physically able to hold his urine and stool for longer periods. He will also have learned that he gets to go out at specific times — and that outside is the place to go.

5. They don’t give weekly baths

You’ve probably heard that bathing a dog too frequently will dry out his skin. Not so! It actually can be good for him and for you. Weekly baths are good for your dog because they help remove allergens and infectious agents such as yeast and bacteria. They also help keep him clean so he’s more welcome in your home and on your furniture. Bathing your dog weekly is good for you because it helps remove allergens that can cause you to sneeze and sniffle when you’re in his presence. That makes him more huggable, and who doesn’t want that?

This article courtesy of Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, Originally Posted on VetStreet