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/.

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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/.

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/  

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/  

Animal Lovers Guide to Super Bowl Commercials

     Unless you’ve been stuck in a frozen snow drift or on an Atlanta interstate for the past few days you know this weekend is the big, huge event that everyone looks forward to and spends all day Monday breaking down:  The annual Pets and Product Placement Presentation known as Super Bowl Commercials.  I post a lot of things on my Facebook page about how people use animals toImage promote their business or product, so I think it’s neat how the commercials do this.  When I was researching this, I found several groups that have their own top 10 lists for Super Bowl commercials involving animals.

    I’m not going to bore with you my top 10 list because I don’t think I could even name 10 Super Bowl commercials with animals.  I will say that my favorite one from last year is the one with the Clydesdale trainer reunited with the horse he raised as a foal.  I’m a big sports fan, so I’m watching the game and using the commercials to get another drink or fill up my plate with more food.  But there have been some memorable animals that have debuted during the Super Bowl.

    I did come up with a few memorable spot, all from Anheuser-Busch: Image Spuds McKenzie from the 1987 Super Bowl, the Budweiser Frogs from 1995, and of course the Clydesdale’s football game

   However animal lovers may be a little disappointed on Sunday.  Variety magazine says that celebrities will be the stars of most of the commercials this year.  You may have already seen the Bud Light commercials promoting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s commercial.  That’s what we’ve come to, promos for commercials.  Animal lovers shouldn’t stay away from the game.  After all there are 2 animal teams playing.  Audi is going the celebrity and animal route in their commercial.  There will also be a sequel to the Budweiser commercial I mentioned earlier.  This one has a puppy in it and you can get a preview hereImage.

    One reason these commercials are so popular is because we love animals so much and can relate to many of these experiences.  And let’s face it, some of these animals are just cute and you can’t take your eyes off them.  I think that animals will always have a place in commercials because so many people love animals and marketers want to have their products associated with them.  Enjoy the game and let me know what your favorite commercials have been in the past and what you think about this year’s commercials after the game. 

           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/