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 it’s 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/

Heat Safety Awareness Day

    Regardless of your opinion of weather forecasters, the National Weather Service got this one right.  The day that could be the hottest day of 2014 is Heat Safety Awareness Day.   You can follow that link to a lot of great information about heat, how it affects you, and what advisories and warnings the NWS issues.  Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer, too.  ImageYou probably have outdoor plans for the holiday weekend.  If you are including your pets in those plans, I have some suggestions to keep the weekend enjoyable for everyone.  

     It’s important for you to take care of yourself on a hot day because if you begin to succumb to heat when you are walking your dog, you are putting your dog in jeopardy.  Many of these things involve common sense.  You shouldn’t take your dog on extended walks during the hottest times of the day.  Not only can the sun get to them, but the hot asphalt can damage their paws.  Try and stay on grass or concrete sidewalks.  Of course, grass can be dangerous if it’s been treated with fertilizer or pesticide.   If you are lucky enough to have a shady trail available to you, great. Image You shouldn’t be running during the hottest part of the day, but you want to run then, don’t take the dog.  I’m sure you know that dogs cool off by panting because they don’t sweat.  When they are breathing hard because they’re tired, it’s even harder for them to cool off.  Other than that your dog is pretty much like you and it needs a lot of water.  Portable bowls are available that can fold up in your pocket or attach to your belt.  You can share a bottle of water this way. 

      I hope I don’t have to tell you not to leave your pet in the car, Imagebut I took this picture in early September last year, on a very warm day.  The NWS has some great information about how quickly temperatures can rise in a parked car.  You can’t do it, even for a short time.  Another important thing to realize is that breeds with pug faces, bulldogs, pugs, etc. are even more susceptible for heatstroke and even in moderate temperatures.

     Okay, you’re following directions; you’ve moved the long walks to the cooler times of day, you’re getting your dog plenty of water, but being out in hot temperatures is unavoidable.  How will you know if it’s getting heatstroke?  The most obvious symptom is uncontrollable panting.  It may also start to foam at the mouth, become agitated or lethargic and even vomit.  First Aid for heatstroke in your pet is to reduce its body temperature.  Typically the first thing you do when performing first aid on a dog is to muzzle it, so it won’t bite you.  However, when a dog is muzzled, he can’t pant, so only use that as a last resort.  Ideally you want to give it cool water to drink, spray it with a hose, and get it in a wading pool or something. Image You don’t want the water to be too cold, because it could shock the system.  You can also wrap it in a cool, wet sheet or towel.  You should get it to your vet as soon as possible. 

     This doesn’t have anything to do with the temperature, but dogs can get sunburned.  White skinned dogs or dogs with thinning hair are most susceptible to sunburn.  Keep these dogs under cover.   

      One of the great things about owning a dog is being outside with it in the nice weather.  Just be aware of the conditions, use common sense and keep a close eye on your pet and you won’t have your afternoon ruined by an emergency trip to the vet. 

           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/  

Hairball Awareness Day

   One of the things I do to look for ideas to blog about or things to market my services with is to talk about pet holidays.  Some of these are things that are pretty normal.  There’s a National Pet Week, a Pet Safety Day and a take your cat to the vet day.  Some of these “days” or “weeks” are started by a company to get some attention to their product or service.  This week is National Pet ID WeekImage I think this is a great idea.  It’s a way to get lost pets reunited with their owners.  Pets can be IDed with a tag on a collar or a microchip.  Both of these have advantages and disadvantages, but you should do one or the other if not both.  Many adoption agencies chip their animals before they send them home with the new owners. 

    But I sometimes come across a day that seems a little funny.  Today is Hairball Awareness Day.  Now I know hairballs are not funny for cat owners and their not funny for cats.  It’s one of the top health issues for cat owning households. Image It may be a sign of a dangerous issue for your cat like a bowel disease or even intestinal cancer.  I couldn’t find out who started Hairball Awareness Day, but I found 2 companies that tied themselves to it pretty closely.  One is Furminator,  That’s the grooming tool that reduces animal hair.  Their website has this description of how hairballs occur from veterinarian Shelby Neely who is also known as the Cat Doctor.  “Because cats groom themselves with their tongues, they naturally ingest some hair in the process,” says Neely.  

According to Dr. Neely, most of the hair will pass though the intestinal tract, but some remains in the stomach. Over time, as more is added, a hairball develops as the hair becomes dampened by bile and other digestive fluids. “Fortunately, by reducing the amount of hair your cat ingests, hairballs can be prevented.”

    Furminator says that by using their product there will be less hair for the cat to ingest.  Regular brushing also reduces the hair the cat will ingest.  Some cats don’t mind a brushing, but as I’m sure some of you know, some don’t like it at all. Image

    Another company that claims it can reduce the hairballs for your cats is Hills Pet Food Company.  “Controlling this issue is as easy as feeding their cats Science Diet® Hairball Control cat food.”

     While these companies get some PR and may get some sales for their products, they also want your cats healthy.  If your cat has a lot of problems with hairballs, you should mention this to your vet.  The vet has several tools to diagnose the problem and recommend a treatment.  Vets are also a good place to ask an opinion of a product and how valid the company’s claims are. Image

     It’s doubtful your cat will ever stop having hairballs.  It is natural for cats to groom themselves and hair will get ingested.  But with some products that claim to help reduce them and a checkup from your vet, you may not have to find so many around your house. 

           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/  

Preventing Pet Poisonings

    Now that all the green beer has been consumed and the green shirt you wear once a year has been restored in the mothballs, we can get down to the serious event of the week.  ImagePoison prevention week.  Pet owners may be surprised of all the items that are toxic to pets that are lying around the home.  You don’t have to throw everything away, or spend all day reading all the labels on everything you buy.  There is plenty of good information out there to make your home safe for your pets and maybe even the rest of your family. 

    I found this blog from the Oregonian in Portland, Oregon that has a list of many of the items that are dangerous to pets.  You may not even be aware that some of the most toxic items can be your houseplants.  I have a client that has a cat and dog, and when I’d go over there to walk the dog, I could tell the cat had eaten some of the leaves on plants and had gotten sick.  Lilies are especially dangerous.  Here’s a list of plants that are harmful to pets if ingested.

     There are many dangerous things in the kitchen too.  Dog owners know what spots on the counter are not safe from their dogs.  It’s harder to keep things away from cats because they can get almost anywhere.  That’s why it’s important to know what is dangerous and to keep it in the pantry or a cabinet and that those doors are kept closed.  If you smoke, it’s important to empty your ashtrays.  You don’t want to leave cigarettes lying around either.  Second hand smoke is toxic to pets just as it is to humans, so you may want to do your smoking in a place where your pets can’t go. 

    The Pet Poison Helpline has a great website with a lot of wonderful information about making your home a safe environment for your family and your pets.  If your pet does ingest something that you are afraid could be dangerous to it, they have a number to call for help.  There is a $39 fee for this, but it includes follow up calls.  You may want to put the number in your phone: 800-213-6680.  It is monitored 24/7.

    As you do your spring cleaning, keep some of these tips in mind and you may find some things that can be easily fixed.  Hopefully you’ll never need to call the hotline.  This is another instance that preparation can prevent a problem or at least make it less likely to happen. 

           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/