Pet Safety on the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday USA!  This year, for the first time, you will be able to celebrate our country’s 239th in Georgia with fireworks, legally.  Who doesn’t love fireworks?  fireworks21

Your pets.  More pets are lost over the 4th of July holiday than at any time of the year.  Pets get spooked by the loud noise and run off.  Even if they are kept in a fenced in area, they get agitated enough, they will find any way they can to escape.

I have posted a lot each year about keeping your pets away from fireworks displays, whether it’s a big, formal fireworks show in your town or just shooting off firecrackers and things in the neighborhood.  With fireworks sales being legal now in Georgia since Wednesday, I thought I may need to do it again.

Not all dogs are affected by fireworks.  If your dog gets scared during thunderstorms, there’s a good chance it will get spooked by fireworks.  Make sure you keep your dog in an inside part of your house.  That way it’s harder to get out and it’s harder to hear the fireworks as well.  Also play some relaxing music if possible.  That’s another way to try and drown out the sound of the blasts.  Don’t leave the TV on a regular channel.  Put it on a soothing music channel.  It’s also a good idea to exercise your dog during the day, so it will be tired and ready to sleep.

Nearly all pets have a safe area in their homes.  That’s a place they go when they are scared.  It could be a closet, a corner, a bed or under the bed.  If you know where your pet’s safe place, great.  If not, test your smoke alarm and see where the pet goes.  This is good to know, because if there is a fire or something in your house, you won’t have to waste time looking for the dog, you can go to the safe area and get it.

It’s great to celebrate America’s birthday with family and friends.  Pet owners love to have their pets with them and usually that is part of the fun.  But this is one time where it may be best to leave the pets behind.  Keep them where they are safe and comfortable and won’t be spooked and can’t run off.  Nothing spoils a celebration like having to look for a lost pet.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.

What’s the Best Dog Movie?

Max, a movie about a military dog whose handler is killed and is adopted by his family back in the States, opened over the weekend.  maxI’ve seen the commercials for the movie and it looks interesting, especially to dog lovers.  But all movies can look good when you have less than 30 seconds for a promo.  Max is a Belgian Malinois, a breed I wasn’t familiar with until I started my dog walking business.  We took care of some and they are great dogs.  One of the ones we took care of was named Max.

They made national headlines with their involvement with the capture of Osama Bin Laden.  I’m not going to mention much else about Max, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.  Also, most of the reviews that I have read haven’t been favorable.  In fact, one says the great dog can’t save the bad plot.  The premiere got me wondering what is the best dog movie ever produced.

I have to admit, I’m not much of a movie person at all.  I don’t see more than 2 or 3 movies a year.  I didn’t see Marley (truth be told, I was afraid that would be a little too sad for me). marley I didn’t see Cujo (I don’t like movies like that).  I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the Beethoven movies.  I did see Old Yeller as a kid.  When I think of dog movies I think of Lassie and Benji.   I Googled dog movies  to see if there were some movies I couldn’t think of.  I found several sites came up that listed their views.   Ranker has a list of best dog movies and they list to 77.  The first is Turner and Hooch.  77th is Bailey’s Billion$ (sic).  According to IMDB, Sweet and savvy talking golden retriever, Bailey, is one doggone lucky pooch when his devoted owner, Constance Pennington, leaves him her entire billion-dollar fortune.  IMDB ranks it as 3.9 stars.  If you were a fan of it, go to Ranker.com and vote it up.

Because I don’t watch a lot of movies, I don’t usually get involved in debates over “the best movie.”  I feel more confident debating the merits of athletes. max2 I don’t know where Max will wind up in the annals of all time great dog movies.  It came in as the 4th highest grossing movie over the weekend, with $12 million.  It was number 2 among movies premiering this weekend.  Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 38.  I would love to know what your favorite dog movie is and if you’ll give Max a chance.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.

Pet Memorial Day and the Decision to Say “Goodbye”

Owning a pet sitting company is awesome.  I get to come into contact with all kinds of different animals and it is so much fun to be around them.  One of the few bad things is when one of them passes away.  It’s hard on me and I can see what it does to not only the families of the pets, but the other animals in the family.

Jack N

Jack enjoying a walk on the nature trail. He passed away in May.

Sunday, June 14 is World Pet Memorial Day, and I thought that was a good time to address something that I have seen several clients dealing with lately.  A couple of weeks ago, I lost 3 client dogs.  Two of them were 2 of the dogs that I care for the most.  In both of those situations, the owners had to make the hardest decision a pet owner has to make.  Has the pet’s quality of life deteriorated to the point where it’s time to say goodbye forever?  They both felt like it had, and without much hesitation, they had people come in and put the dog down.

I have seen other clients that may not have acted in the pet’s best interest.  Several times, we were called in to help them take care of a dog.  Most of the times they need help with a dog because cats are so independent or you never realize until too late how bad off the cat is.  In most of these cases the dog needed extra help that the client was not able to do physically or because it needed so much attention they got us involved.  To be fair, we got involved after things had already happened and I didn’t know the client, the pet, or the back story.  In these cases we are happy to help make things as good as possible for the pets.

Angela has been a client for about 3 years.  Her dog is Johnny, a greyhound she

Johnny on a walk

Johnny on a walk

rescued when he was 4 and half, 7 years ago.  When I first started taking care of Johnny, he was always pretty calm and laid back.  I’d walk him 4 times a day and he didn’t take too much encouragement to get going on the walk.  He loved to eat and was always ready for a treat.  In December 2012 he was diagnosed with cancer.  It was caught early on and that made the decision to treat it easier for her.  “It was the whole process,” said Angela.  “They would resect the tumor but he must have the treatment, too.  He had to have it all.”  The tumor was on his shoulder, so it was easy to get to.  He was going to have 15 weeks of chemo and radiation.  The doctors said typically you can expect about 18 months after this treatment program.

I walked him a few times while he was having these treatments and he didn’t look or act too different.  He was a little sluggish and may have needed a treat to get started but then he was fine on the walk.  However after 12 weeks, Angela noticed he was having some negative effects from the treatments and ended them.  “It was not worth him being miserable for the next 3 weeks.”

Johnny on a walk during his cancer treatments

Johnny on a walk during his cancer treatments

About a year and half ago, Angela had moved into a home that had a fenced yard.  In addition she adopted another greyhound, Payton.  Johnny loved having the companionship from Payton.  With the fenced in yard, they could play together off the leash.  It was so cool to me seeing Johnny run that much.  They would take off and run around the yard and it was quite impressive.

Johnny and his new pal Payton enjoying the winter sun after a few laps around the yard.

Johnny and his new pal Payton enjoying the winter sun after a few laps around the yard.

Johnny would get bursts of energy and run a few sprints, but then would go back to being his lazy self and be ready for a nap.      Angela says Johnny had run in more than 180 races in his career, which is a lot.  It’s very common for greyhounds to develop leg problems as they get older.  This spring he had been limping a bit.  I was taking care of him a little bit more as Angela was traveling.  His limp had been pretty bad during a visit I did with him in April.  Angela took him to have treatment on his hip.  After talking to the vet, they decided it may be his leg that was causing the pain, not the hip.  They had looked at some x-rays from earlier in the year that this doctor had not seen and they noticed something on the leg.  It was a form of bone cancer.  They weren’t sure what kind, because Angela didn’t want to do a very painful bone biopsy to a dog now 11 ½ years old.  “I wasn’t going to put him through that.”

The doctors wanted to amputate the leg to keep the cancer from spreading, but Angela wasn’t going to do that.  “I know my dog,” she said.  “After the surgery he would have looked at me and said what did you just do to me?”

His bad days had become more frequent than the good days and she knew he wouldn’t have long.  “The day before we said goodbye was one of his best days.  He was barking at birds and had a lot of energy.  But the next day he was really panting and he looked at me and said. ‘Let me go, Mom.’”

Angela feels good about the decisions she made with him.  She got 26 months after the initial cancer surgery, when they said 18 was best case.  Payton has had a tough time without him, but he just got a new brother, so he is getting a chance to show him the ropes.  She is also putting his memory to good use.  She has set up a page on justgive.org so people who loved Johnny can make a donation to his favorite charity.  It has already raised more than $1000 in just a few weeks.   20130127_223107

Everybody goes through different emotions with their pet when they are dealing with a terminal illness or just old age.  I’ve seen people spend a lot of money on treatments to keep the pet alive, but that may not have been in the best interest of the pet, because of the pain they were enduring.  I think it’s important to get some opinions from your vet and other people you trust who know the dog if you just can’t make the decision to say goodbye.  Sometimes, like Angela with Johnny, you just know it’s time.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.

Dog Bite Prevention Week

Millions of people are bitten by dogs every year and most of those bitten are children.  The insurance information institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid nearly $500 million in dog bite claims. In an effort to reduce the number of dog bites, this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  I think this is very important because so many dog bites can be prevented.  The first step in preventing dog bites is using common sense.   Many bites occur in the home. mean pic Make sure children and dogs aren’t left in the same room without some adult supervision.  And something can happen very quickly, so don’t even leave for a moment.   If you or your kids aren’t in a position to be bitten by a dog, you won’t be bitten.  Even if you don’t have a dog in your home, there are some things you need to be aware of in case you are confronted with a dog.

Sandy Watson, co-owner, of Dog School 101, is a certified dog trainer.  She says you can take some cues from a dog before approaching it.  “Don’t think a wagging dog is a happy dog,” she says.  “Don’t approach a dog if it is behind its owner.  Also watch its hackles to see if they are raised.  You don’t want to approach that dog because it is not at ease.”  Watson also says it’s important not to lower your face to the dog’s level because it can feel threatened.  When you are playing with a dog, don’t hold its toy near your face.  The dog may jump up to get the toy and get your face instead.    The same thing applies with food.  Children should be told not to tease a dog or hold food where the dog can get it.

You should teach your children to treat strange dogs like strange people.  Don’t let them approach one   Children are such frequent victims because they are close to eye level with the dog.  For some more information about this, The American Veterinary Medical Association has a CD available for sale for families to try and prevent dog bites.  The ASPCA has some notes about reading a dog’s state of mind on its website.

When our dog walkers at Fetch! Pet Care are  with a client’s dog and a child approaches the dog, we ask that it not pet it this time.  You never know how the pet may react when it’s with our sitter and not the owner.  If you are approached by a dog that’s not on a leash, Watson has some simple advice.  “Stand like a tree.  If it knocks you down, lie like a log.”  Any sudden movements could spook the dog.

If all these things don’t work and you are bitten, what are the first aid steps you should take?  According to WebMD, if there’s blood; use a clean towel to stop the bleeding.  Keep the wound elevated if possible.  It should be cleaned with soap and water as quickly as possible.  Use an antibiotic ointment daily to prevent infection.  If it’s a serious wound, seek medical treatment.  You should try and get as much information as possible about the dog, including vaccination history and other medical info.  That can help the doctor with treatment.

Hopefully, you and your family won’t have to deal with a dog bite.  Just follow some common sense rules and your time with the dog will be fun.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be!

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.

Keeping Your Dog Hydrated (and its bowls clean)

Spring is finally here and one of the great things about owning a dog in the spring is taking it out for walks.  Whether it is around the neighborhood, at the local park or for a hike through the woods, the exercise is great for everyone!  It’s important to remember however, that as important as it is for you to hydrate, your dog needs water too.  Make sure you give it some water before you leave.pepper drinks  Dr. Mitzi Schepps, DVM, of The Wellness Waggin, says that if you think of it in human terms, it’s easier to remember to hydrate your dogs.  “When it’s hotter, fluids evaporate quicker.  Dogs don’t have sweat glands, so they only release heat through their paw pads and their tongue.“  I can tell when some of the pets that I do regular dog walks with are dehydrated.  They start to drink water out of a puddle.  That’s something you definitely want to avoid because you don’t have any idea what is in there.  jackson drinks

If you’re going for a longer walk, you may want to carry a portable drinking bowl for your folding bowl editeddog that can be filled by a water bottle that both of you can drink out of.  These collapsible bowls can be purchased at any pet store and they can be carried in a pocket or hooked to a belt loop.  Johnny and Bowl editedYou can tell when the dog is suffering from extreme dehydration by what is called splayed tongue.  “That’s when the tongue gets flat.  The bottom of the tongue is wider than the top,” says Dr. Schepps.  If you see this, you’ll want to get some water however you can and find some shade and take a break.

Let’s say your dog just doesn’t like to drink from a bowl.  Dr. Schepps offers a suggestion.  “Put water in their food and make gravy.”  This way you are kind of tricking your dog to get the hydration as well.

This brings me to another pet peeve of mine that I’ve observed at client’s homes.  Dirty dog bowls.  Yes, they are dogs, but they still shouldn’t have to drink out of dirty bowls.  Bacteria can grow in bowls that aren’t cleaned regularly.  Dr. Schepps says plastic bowls are most susceptible for bacteria.  “Stainless steel and ceramic are much better materials for bowls.”  Besides, they are easier to clean.  One of my clients actually has a soap filled scrub brush by the sink in the room where she keeps the dogs when she is gone.scrubber and sink  That’s awesome!  Don’t forget to clean the food bowl every now and then too.  A Brillo pad is an easy way to clean a bowl.  Put it in the dishwasher from time to time to keep those germs away, your pet out of the vets office and out walking with you.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.

Pet Care for the Cold

A blast of Arctic air has blown into the southeast.  Overnight temperatures are forecast for the low teens Wednesday and Thursday nights in the metro Atlanta area.  This frigid air mass will make it all the way down to Florida, with temperatures forecast to get to the mid 20s in central Florida on Thursday. Payton in Jacket With wind chills around zero, that can be dangerous not only for you, but for your pets.  The thing about animals, as all owners know, is that they have to do their business, regardless of the conditions outside.

Animals can get frostbite and other cold weather injuries just like humans.  You will be bundling up before you go outside, so you want to do what you can to prepare your pets as well.  Smaller dogs and cats are much more venerable to the cold.  SAMSUNG If you let your cats outside, don’t until things warm up.  As for the dogs, use a sweater or other jacket for them if you have one.  I can’t offer a suggestion on getting them on dogs that won’t want to wear a sweater.  Once they do their business, come in as quick as possible.  The areas that are at most risk are the ears, paws, scrotum and tail.  Tissue can freeze if their body temperature drops to 4 degrees below their normal temperature.  Give your dog a quick exam when you get back in to see if anything looks different.  If the dog is still shivering when you get back in, wrap it up in a towel that has been warmed in the dryer.  If your grass has frost on it, you may want to wipe the paws in a warm towel to make sure there aren’t any ice or frost crystals stuck in the pads.

Skin will become swollen, red and painful if your dog has been affected.  If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, the affected body parts should be slowly warmed with wet towels.  Get it to your vet or an emergency vet clinic as soon as possible to prevent long term damage and ward off infection.  Don’t rub or squeeze the affected area because it will be painful for the pet.  As with any first aid you provide to your dog, muzzle it to make sure it won’t lick the affected areas or bite you as you tend to it.

It’s important for you and your pet to stay hydrated in cold temperatures and that will help ward off cold weather injuries. SAMSUNG

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you park your car outside outdoor cats like to climb in the engine to try and stay warm.  Tap your hood a few times before you start your car to make sure there isn’t one in there.

Just remember to use common sense and if you don’t want to do something because of the cold, your pet likely won’t want to do it either.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by checking out our Instagram page at http://instagram.com/fetchnwatlanta/.

Keeping Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

It’s 4th of July week and that means you will probably have some fireworks going off around you, either in a big display or just some firecrackers being shot off in your neighborhood.  fireworksYou may love to watch fireworks, and who doesn’t, especially at Independence Day?  Your dog is who.  More dogs are lost around the 4th of the July than any other time of the year.  That’s because many of them are left alone at home, get agitated by the noise, and run off.  Last year in Durham, NC, a dog that runs the bases at the Durham Bulls games was being put in the car by his owner when the post-game fireworks started.  He was spooked and ran off.  Fortunately because of the media attention, he was returned to his owner.

It’s the loud, unpredictable sound that frightens them.  If you are going to a fireworks show, leave the dog at home.  Dogs can’t see the colors like we do and the noise could make them afraid.  Even though it’s at night, it’s still usually hot and humid, and there are crowds and strangers and those factors can make even the most docile dog agitated and will make sure you and the people around you won’t enjoy the show.

So what happens if you leave your dog at home, but you know there will be some firecrackers shot off around your house?  Dr. Bonnie Beaver, past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association has some tips for how to keep your dog calm.  “You want to keep them inside and as far away from the noise as possible,” says Dr. Beaver.scared  She says some background noise from the TV or radio works.  And your vet can prescribe something for it too.  Keeping the room dark also helps.

There are some over the counter products that are available to calm your dog also.  Dog City Bakery in East Cobb and in Sandy Springs has some products available.  completeCalm-productComplete Calm is a mixture of herbs in chewable form that can help keep your pet relaxed in any stressful situation, including separation, car rides, trips to the vet or groomer or moving into a new home.  You can also get a similar product, Herbsmith Calm Shen at Dog City.  It comes in powder or pill form.  An alternative to the oral medication is Rescue Remedy for Pets.  These are drops that you put in your pet’s water bowl.

If your dog gets scared during thunderstorms, it will likely be scared during fireworks.  If you have a Thundershirt for your dog, you may want to put it in it, but not if it will be left unattended.  If you typically crate your dog during thunderstorms, crate it during the fireworks.

AmyKcompr  If you are leaving your pet at home while you and the family attend the fireworks, you may want to have your pet sitter come over and stay with it.  The play time and being with a familiar face can help to relieve the stress and distract the dog from the noise.

Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA.  You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/