How to Find a Good Dog Walker

Although you may get lucky and find the best dog walker in the world posted on a telephone pole, the process of choosing a good, safe and reliable pet care provider can be made easier by starting with these three options.

Where to look for a Good Dog Walker

There are ads all over social media, Kijiji, newspapers and even flyers in your mailbox.  But how do you know where to look for a good dog walker. How do you trust a total stranger with your furry family member?   Although you may get lucky and find the best dog walker in the world posted on a telephone pole, the process of choosing a good, safe and reliable pet care provider can be made easier by starting with these three options.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Word of Mouth

Start with friends and family. If you have people who are close to you who are dog owners, perhaps they have been in your situation in the past.  They may know someone who is perfect for you.  Having someone who has had first hand experience with a dog walker is comforting.  If your dog parenting practices are similar to the friend’s, you will have a lot more confidence in someone they are recommending than someone you find in a random ad. 

Knowing how to find a good dog walker will help to ensure safe and happy visits for your pup.

Unfortunately, the walker may not have the availability that you require or may not be in your area.  In this instance it would be a good idea for you to has him/her for a recommendation of someone that they know who also does pet care.  Most dog walkers know someone else and most would not recommend anyone who was not reputable. Any walker who has a good reputation would likely only recommend someone who would enhance that reputation, so would not just pass on any name unless they were familiar with the referee’s practices.   It would still be wise to ask if they have ever worked together or how they know each other.  This will give you an idea of how much the two know about each other’s methods. It would be advisable to look at the walker’s website and check the references posted there as well.

Veterinarian’s Office

Many vets will have a bulletin board in the waiting room of their office.  Have a look and see if there are any advertisements.  Many dog walkers will leave advertisements or business cards posted on the bulletin board.  Often, the staff in the vet’s office are familiar with the dog walker.  If you do find a posting, ask the vet staff if they know or would recommend the dog walker.  Although they are not affiliated with or responsible for the actions of the dog walker, they may be able to provide some insight.

Pet Care Agencies

There are many pet care agencies that will provide you with a listing of dog walkers in your area.  When selecting a pet care registry, investigate the company’s reputation.  Do some leg work to be sure they have a solid history and that they offer the services you need. An example of an established network would be Rover.com.  Rover offers pet care options in the United States, Canada and Europe. They require a criminal background check from all of their pet care providers, and provide insured pet care for all bookings through the agency.  I have worked with Rover for almost 2 years and I have met many clients who swear by Rover’s services because of their history, reputation and practices.

If you decide to go through an agency, look for a company in your area that offers biographies and client ratings for their providers.  Many of my pet parents say that the reason they chose me was not only because of my five-star reviews, but because of the number of repeat bookings I have had.  They told me that they felt that having the same clients request my services repeatedly was an indication that I was good with their pets as well as reliable. The more statistics and details you know about a potential walker, the better chance you will find the best care for your pet.

Added Suggestions

After looking, researching and narrowing down the best candidates, you are ready to call and book an interview.  Although you think you have chosen the most perfect candidate, it is wise to call and book an interview with the top 3 or 4 candidates.  A potential walker may look great on paper but you may not be happy with the person that arrives at your door.  This may be due to many reasons including changes in availability since booking your interview, personality conflicts or maybe even a poor reaction by your pup.

Checklist for Finding a Good Dog Walker 

  • Investigate word of mouth referrals, bulletin board posts in trustworthy places (vet’s office) or reputable agencies.
  • Narrow down your search to 3 to 4 potential walkers.
  • Take your time and interview all of the finalists. 
  • Have questions ready.
  • Make notes.
  • Ask for references and actually call the references to get a feel for their perspective about pet care.
  • Review your notes after meeting with all of the walkers. 
  • Compare all references, written and verbal.
  • Make your decision.

Summary

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

If you follow all of these steps your chances of finding someone you are happy with (and more importantly who your doggo is happy with) is pretty strong.  Having said that, be sure to monitor any changes in your pups behavior to be sure all is well.  I also recommend checking in with neighbors to see if they have seen the interaction between your dog and the new walker.  As a pet care provider I also love seeing some form of security system or a FURBO Camera to keep an eye on what goes on inside your home when the walker/sitter is caring for your fur baby.  You can never be too safe!

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Xylitol: The Danger for Dogs

Xylitol poses significant danger for dogs. It does not take a lot of it to make your dog sick, and when it is consumed, is does not take long before symptoms occur.

Xylitol poses significant danger for dogs.  It does not take a lot of it to make your dog sick. When it is consumed, it does not take long before symptoms occur.  Because it is found in many everyday products you may not even be aware that your dog has ingested it.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

I did some research to learn more about what Xylitol is, where it comes from, how it is used in our foods and other household products and how it will affect our pups should they swallow any.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and is used as a sugar substitute in many foods.  It looks like regular sugar but has significantly fewer calories. It is derived from various fruits and vegetables and is also found in certain types of wood.

There are several natural sources of Xylitol including:
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Oats
  • Corn on the cob
  • Birchwood

Because Xylitol has a lower caloric content than sugar it is used in the production of many calorie reduced foods.  It is a source of sweetener for a diabetic diet or a calorie reduced weight loss plan. It can also be found in medications and oral care products.  Xylitol has even been identified as an effective agent against oral bacteria. This results in reduced cavities and is thought to lower the incidents of tooth decay.

Xylitol can be found in the following common household items:
  • Chewing Gum
  • Mints
  • Sugar Free or Calorie Reduced Candies
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jams
  • Honey
  • Syrup
  • Fruit Drinks
  • Sugar Free Gelatine
  • Sugar Free Pudding
  • Toothpaste
  • Oral Care Rinses
  • Nasal Spray
  • Cough Syrup
  • Cough Drops
  • Vitamins
  • Prescription Medications
  • Formulas Used in Feeding Tubes

All these potential sources are found in the average household’s pantries and cabinets. Because of this it is important to be sure you are keeping them all away from your dog.  A dog consuming just a little can be extremely harmful. If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with something containing Xylitol get him to the vet immediately. 

When you are not in the house it’s important to remember that people toss chewing gum on the ground. It is not uncommon to spill mints or candies when sharing them among friends.  Garbage cans get blown around and the contents are scattered over parks, trails, sidewalks and lawns.  I see this daily when dog walking, in all neighborhoods. Dogs are quick to pick things up.  You may not even see it happen. It can take less than an hour and up to half a day to begin seeing the effects of Xylitol poisoning. 

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

If you see any of the following symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately. Your dog may have ingested something you are unaware of.

Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning in Dogs:
Foods and gum containing Xylitol can be found on the ground during walks. Be sure to watch what your dog is sniffing.
  • Lethargic
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Liver Failure
  • Coma
Is there a Cure?

If you can reach your veterinarian quickly, they may be able to offer an IV drip that will help to restore your dog’s glucose levels. Extensive liver damage may result in death.

Because of the severity and the rapid deterioration that occurs with Xylitol poisoning, the best method of protecting your dog is prevention.   Here are some things to consider:

  • Keep all foods and oral products in cabinets above the dog’s reach.
  • Do not give your dog table scraps or leftovers. Xylitol is an ingredient in many foods.
  • Provide only treats prepared specially for dogs.
  • Do not let children eat unsupervised around your dog.  Food that is dropped may go unnoticed. Children may just want to give their furry friend a treat.
  • Keep backpacks, purses, jackets, suitcases or bags containing gum, mints, candies, drinks etc. zipped up and out of reach.
  • Keep a close eye on what your dog is sniffing when on a walk.  Even though it is important to let your dog sniff, it is equally important to keep their noses where you can see them.
  • Keep garbage cans covered securely, inside the home and out.

The best defense is a good offense.  Taking steps to avoid an issue is always safer.

Sources:

https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/dangers-of-xylitol-for-dogs/

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-996/xylitol

https://ca.iherb.com/pr/xlear-inc-xclear-xylitol-saline-nasal-spray-fast-relief-1-5-fl-oz-45-ml/7047?gclid=EAIaIQobChMInu6dtdv66AIVBK7ICh1hVAzyEAAYAiAAEgIxVfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xylitol-101#dental-health

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The Dangers of Dogs Playing with Balloons

If a dog swallows a balloon, or even a piece of a balloon it can result in intestinal blockage which requires emergency surgery.

Many years ago, I took a St. John’s Ambulance Infant CPR course.  The instructor spoke to us about the dangers of children choking on small pieces of food and small toys, but one of the things that stood out for me was the information about the dangers of balloons.  These concerns do not just apply to humans. The dangers of dogs playing with balloons are just as serious. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you. See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Balloons are bright and shiny.  They bounce and wiggle.  These are very enticing attributes to any doggo.  The urge to chase and bite are overwhelming.  But balloons burst and break into small pieces.  The repercussions of the popped balloon can be very dangerous to your dog’s health. The damage can be permanent or even fatal. Here are some dangers to consider when deciding whether or not to decorate with balloons when you have a dog:

Eye Damage or Blindness

When your dog bites a balloon or holds it in his mouth, it puts pressure on the rubber, causing it to expand to full capacity.  Eventually it bursts and the pieces fly around your dog’s face.  It snaps with enough force to cause a whipping reaction.  If a piece lands in your dog’s eye(s) or whips the eyeball as it flies by, the eye can be damaged.  If it strikes a specific part of the eye it can cause permanent blindness.

Intestinal Blockage
If a dog swallows a balloon, or even a piece of a balloon it can result in intestinal blockage which requires emergency surgery.

Another one of the dangers of dogs playing with balloons or finding a piece of broken balloon, is that they are likely to swallow it. The piece can make its way down to various levels of the intestinal tract.  Although sometimes it makes its way through (and out), it can also expand and block food from passing.  This intestinal obstruction will have to be surgically removed.  Symptoms of blockage include vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can take days or weeks to appear as the blockage can take this long to occur. 

I have witnessed this delayed blockage with one of my dog walking clients.  Although it was not a balloon that he swallowed, the progression of the blockage was similar. At some point he had swallowed a piece of corn cob and it was about 6 weeks before the symptoms developed. Emergency surgery was required.  The vet determined the time frame from ingestion to surgery based on the condition of the cob piece once it was removed.  Until the vomiting and diarrhea started, he was acting like his normal, fun loving puppy self.

Extreme Choking Hazzard

A small piece of a balloon can cause one of the most dangerous of choking hazards.  The balloon, or piece of balloon, can get caught in the throat, blocking the windpipe (trachea).  The dog cannot breathe in.  Should you see this happening and attempt the Heimlich Maneuver, it may not work.  

The Heimlich Maneuver uses the force of air pressure from the abdomen and lungs to push an item that is lodged in the throat out through the mouth.  When the object is a balloon, the forced air from the abdomen blows upward and instead of forcing the balloon out of the way, the rubber/latex expands, just as if you were blowing the balloon up.  There is no way for the air pressure to dislodge the balloon. In fact, this procedure can make it worse by moving the offending piece to a more dangerous position.

The length of time it takes to remove an obstructed object determines how much permanent damage is done.  The longer the body goes without oxygen, the worse the level of damage will be. 

When you have pets, it is wise to decorate without balloons.  Yes, they are bright and cheery and fun to play with, but is it worth your dog’s safety?

Alternative Decorating Ideas

There are a number of alternative ideas for decorating that are equally as bright and cheery that are safe for dogs and children.

  • Bubbles: Dogs love to chase the moving bubbles and they are fun to have floating around during a party. Bonus: They are very affordable.
  • Streamers:  Brightly colored paper streamers are very festive.  They can be placed higher up so that pets cannot get to them.  Bonus:  They are reusable.
  • Pinwheels: These brightly colored wheels move and spin for outdoor parties.  They provide the bright and shiny attributes of balloons and can be placed in a variety of out of reach places or bunched like a floral arrangement.  Bonus: You can make your own and they are reusable.
  • Paper Flowers or Pom Poms: Both are round and full. They come in any color and can be hung from the streamers, just like balloons.  Bonus:  Making your own can be a lot of fun and they are reusable.
  • Honeycomb Balls:  These carved paper balls look just like balloons and can be hung from streamers, in bunches or placed on sticks or straws to appear the same as balloons on a string.  Bonus:  Reusable and flatten for easy storage.
Summary

As you can see, there are many ways to decorate and a number of bonus reasons to choose any or all of the listed alternatives to balloons when decorating around pets or children.  The biggest bonus is that everyone will be much safer without the risk of suffocating on a balloon. Having said that, any item that a dog can rip up or shred has the potential to get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract.  It is important to keep all decorations out of reach.

One last note:

Even if you do not have a pet or children, your balloons can float off and land somewhere that does.  They can land in oceans and forests.  The fish, sea creatures and animals who live in these areas can be harmed without the option of veterinary surgery to help them. 

Please choose wisely.

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Stay Safe While Walking Your Dog

Remember, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not going to be able to properly care for our pets.

Now that we have chosen the appropriate harness and leash for our pups, we have made sure that their paws are protected from the elements and we have found the best winter and rain coats to be sure they are comfortable while outside walking or playing, it’s time to make sure we are prepared as well. We all do everything in our power to keep our doggos protected and safe while we are on our walks, but we don’t always think about ourselves. Remember, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not going to be able to properly care for our pets. If we slip and fall, suffer from heat stroke or get frost bite, we are not going to be of any value to them, and could actually put them in danger if we were to lose control of the leash. It’s important to stay safe while walking your dog.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Last year was a particularly cold and snowy winter. This made for great adventures while walking with my clients. They loved to play and run in the white stuff, but the sidewalks and park paths were never free of ice. Sometimes it was black ice, or hidden below a layer of snow. This left me vulnerable to falling, which I did – several times! Some of these falls put not only me in jeopardy, but after the fact, I realized that the dog could have been as well.

“…she fell on a patch of ice and hit her head on the ground. She was unconscious for several minutes and the dog stayed with her.”

One incident that was cause for concern was when I fell forward toward a driveway entrance. Fortunately, the Golden Retriever I was walking was on a long lead so he was well past the area where a car might drive. I did drop the lead when I hit the ground. Not only did I land in a very precarious position with regard to traffic, but if it had been a dog who was a runner, he might have bolted.

Coincidently, he was walking with his owner a few weeks later, when she fell on a patch of ice and hit her head on the ground. She was unconscious for several minutes and the dog stayed with her. Again, a dog who is a flight risk could have been long gone.

Why am I telling you these stories? To demonstrate the importance of safe walking practices. While all accidents are not 100% preventable, we should do our best to reduce the risk.

How to dress in winter:

If you are out in the colder months, check the weather before going out. Wearing appropriate jackets, hats, gloves and boots will help you to be comfortable. This will also allow you to enjoy your walk as well as focus on your dog’s needs.

If there is snow or ice, I would highly recommend spikes for the bottom of your boots. I have been using a pair this year and the stability while walking has kept me upright. They provide traction when you walk on slippery surfaces. Although they do not completely prevent falls, they have made a significant difference to the way I walk. In addition to preventing slips and falls, they have kept me from tensing up. This has helped to reduce sore muscles and back pain.

Always wear something bright colored and/or reflective. In the shorter days of winter, you will likely be walking at dawn, dusk or in complete darkness. Wearing reflective jackets or vests will ensure that you are visible when crossing streets or walking along roadsides. A reflective vest, leash or flashing collar will make sure your dog is visible as well.

The Best Hot Weather Clothing and Accessories:

Aside from wearing cool and comfortable attire when outside in summer, you should be sure to wear a hat. Keeping the hot sun from beating down on your head will prevent heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause dizziness and weakness which could result in passing out. Again, this leaves your dog unattended and vulnerable.

Wear proper walking shoes. Flip flops and sandals will not support your feet and ankles properly and could cause permanent damage. If you step on uneven terrain you can easily slip off a sandal or flip flop causing you to fall. You could also wind up spraining or breaking your ankle rendering you useless for doggy walks over the next several days or weeks.

Carrying and consuming water is as important for you as it is for your doggo, as maintaining hydration is another key factor in preventing heat stroke.

Wear sunblock. Though this will not prevent any sudden issues while on a walk, if you get a nasty sunburn, you are not going to want to walk tomorrow, and your pup will not get his proper exercise.

Rain Gear:

Many people ask me if I have my umbrella on rainy days. Truthfully, I try to avoid carrying an umbrella. Because I have one hand on the leash, I need the other free to pick up poop, clean burrs off of fur or remove mud or pine needles from paw pads. Carrying an umbrella can be a hindrance. I opt for a hooded cape or raincoat with a rain hat to keep me warm and dry. They usually come in bright colors, so they cover the visibility issue on foggy, misty, rainy days.

Be prepared:

Always carry a flashlight when walking on particularly cloudy days or in the dark. This not only makes you more visible, but it can protect you and your pup from coyotes or any other animals that may pose a threat. If your area is known to have a strong presence of a specific wild animal, learn all safety and protective measures to keep you and your pup safe from attacks.

When you are on an airplane, the flight attendant always tells you to use the mask first. If you are not safe, your partner or child isn’t either. It is the same with walking our pets. Make sure you are protected so that you can keep them as safe as possible.

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GPS Trackers for Dogs and Cats

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you have a pet who is deaf, a flight risk, new to you and your home or fearful. If you are travelling with your doggo or just driving around your home town, keeping a tracker on her will bring peace of mind.

So, you have your pet microchipped, why would you need GPS trackers for dogs and cats? A microchip is perfect if your pet has been found and the good Samaritan who found her does his due diligence and takes her to a vet or shelter to have the chip scanned. In a perfect world, this would be enough. Unfortunately, not all pets are lost in an area where a human is likely to find them and not all humans are willing to go through the process of picking up a stray animal and going through the process. Some will even keep the found pet for themselves. These scenarios call for a tracker so that you can go to your pet, rather than hoping she will be returned to you.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

What should I look for in a tracker?

Many tracking devices offer similar functions that are key to bringing your doggo home. The three most important features that I have come across are battery life, range of coverage and that it be waterproof. It is the combination of these three features that provides the highest chance of a successful reunion.

Battery Life and Charging:

The battery life should be no less than a couple of days. You will need to have enough time to get to your pet once she is located. If she accidentally becomes stuck in a vehicle and transported to a different city, you need time to reach her. If she is lost in the woods, you may need time to hike to her location. You will need a battery that provides you with ample time to do so.

A minimal charging time is important as it ensures that she will not be without her tracker for too long. You can charge it while you are all inside and be sure that she is wearing the collar before anyone opens the door to head out to enjoy your day. If you are driving it is best to keep the tracker on in case of an accident. Often, an accident situation results in a dog bolting from the scene because she is afraid or, even worse, injured. Having the tracker on her will help you to get to her and care for her as soon as possible.

Range of Coverage:

Having a tracker that has a limited tracking range limits your chances of bringing your pet home. There are several trackers out there that have many wonderful features, but can only be used within a limited number of kilometres/miles. This is great if she doesn’t get far, but as in the scenario where she gets stuck in a vehicle and driven down the highway, this could render the tracker useless. There are some that only provide coverage within a specific country. This seems like plenty of range, but if you are travelling or live close to a border, your dog could travel across the border and you would lose the ability to track her beyond a certain point.

Waterproof:

Dogs swim, dogs roll in mud puddles, dogs run in the rain. A tracker that will withstand being wet will ensure that you can maintain a solid connection between your app and your pet regardless of where she goes. until you are able to catch up with her and bring her home safely. It also provides the opportunity to take your pet to the beach without having to remove the tracking device, putting your pet at risk of running around unmonitored.

Many believe that their pup will never run far from them. Although this may seem like the case, circumstances come into play that can cause your pet to become lost. A frightening noise could cause her to hide. She may chase a squirrel until she doesn’t recognize her surroundings. Some run into situations, like sleeping in the bed of a truck that suddenly begins to move. Others may swim out too far from shore. Any of these can take them far from home. Wearing a tracker on will help you pinpoint her exact location so that you can get to her sooner.

These may sound like unlikely scenarios, but they do happen more often than we think.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If your pet is deaf, a flight risk, new to you and your home or fearful, you should consider a tracker. When travelling or just driving around your neighborhood, keeping a tracker on your pup will bring peace of mind.

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Microchipping Your Pets

It is a small chip that is similar in size to a grain of rice. It is programmed with a number that is assigned to your pet along with the phone number of the company that issued the chip. Should your pet be found outside, the vet can wave a scanner over the location of the chip and the phone number and pet number appear on the scanning device.

You never think it will happen to you. You open the door and your pet bolts out before you have a chance to stop him. As I walk through the various neighborhoods with my Doggos, I see so many lost animal signs on posts, fences, mail boxes – anywhere a desperate pet parent thinks there is a chance that someone might have seen their dog or cat. Animal shelters and vets continuously receive calls from frantic and desperate people who have lost their pets. They see animals daily who have been found and brought to them in hopes that someone will be reunited with their beloved family pet. There are times when these methods work, but all too often, they are not enough and the animal has to be re-homed, or worse. Microchipping your pets will help to identify them should they be found.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

My dog has tags on his collar

For years, the best method of attempting to make sure your pet would be returned has been a tag on his collar. The tag provided the pet’s name and your phone number. If your pet was found, hopefully the person would be honest enough to call and return him, or at least bring him to an animal care worker to have them contact you. This has been somewhat effective, but there are circumstances where this fails. As we have discussed in my post Collar vs. Harness, using a collar all the time can be unsafe unless you are using a break-away style. This means that if your dog bolts from the home, he may not be wearing a collar or the collar may come off if he gets hooked on something while running around outside. This is where the microchip could be the best alternative.

What is a Microchip?

It is a small chip that is similar in size to a grain of rice. It is programmed with a number that is assigned to your pet along with the phone number of the company that issued the chip. When your pet is found, a veterinarian can wave a scanner over the location of the chip. The phone number and pet number appear on the scanning device. The vet then calls the phone number and provides them with your pet’s ID number found in the chip. The number is run through a database and your contact information is provided. The vet can then contact you and tell you where to come and pick up your fur baby.

How is the Microchip Inserted?

The microchip comes in a large syringe (needle) that the vet inserts between your pet’s shoulder blades. There is some fatty tissue in that area that allows it to sit comfortably, and your pet will not feel it once it has been placed. It is made of a material that allows it to attach itself to the tissues, keeping it firmly in place.

Does it hurt?

Because the need is larger than a normal needle, the initial injection does hurt more than a vaccination. Some vets will freeze the area before insertion, but many do it without it. The process is extremely quick and your pet’s reaction is very brief, indicating that the pain is minimal. There may be a trace amount of bleeding at the site and a small scab is possible.

As always, discuss this and every other medical process with your vet. Pet care is a very personal decision and the best practice for your pet may not be the same as it is for someone else’s. You are already doing your research by reading about microchipping. Make a list of any questions or concerns before you see the vet and have them answered before you proceed. If you are comfortable with the answers you can make your decision with confidence.

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Pet Proofing Your Home at Christmas

We all want that perfect Christmas, filled with decorations, food, friends, family and, of course, fur babies. To make it perfect, it is important to pet proof your home. You may be surprised at the number of potential hazards lurking among all of those beautiful, cozy and yummy items traditionally found throughout the season.

We all want that perfect Christmas, filled with decorations, food, friends, family and, of course, fur babies. To make it perfect, it is important to pet proof your home. You may be surprised at the number of potential hazards lurking among all of those beautiful, cozy and yummy items traditionally found throughout the season.

Decorations

When you are setting up the tree, keep in mind the kinds of decorations you are using. Glass trinkets, edible baubles, shimmering tinsel and strings of lights can be dangerous when your pets decide to play. Pups and kitties are curious at any age. Placing a tree full of shiny objects in the living room, will certainly pique the interest of most animals.

Glass trinkets and lights can fall and break, leaving your pet’s paws vulnerable to painful cuts. It’s best to place the unbreakable ones where the animals can reach, and the more delicate ones closer to the top. I usually tie these ones on a little tighter, either by using string or by winding the wire hooks around the branch to help support them should the tree be climbed or shaken by a wagging tail.

There are many decorations made of chocolate or candy, that can cause serios harm. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and many candies contain Xylitol, which is also highly toxic.

Tinsel glistening as the light bounces off of it looks like great fun to jump up and play with for a kitty. Unfortunately, if it is ingested by dogs or cats, it can get caught in the intestines, resulting in a blockage that could require surgery. I gave up the tinsel many years ago when my kitten got it wrapped around her neck. The more she tried to get out of it the tighter it seemed to get. I had to use scissors to remove it. I’m just grateful I was home to help her.

The Christmas Tree

The tree should be on a wide sturdy base and, if possible, stabilized with fishing line attached to something solid like a a bannister. I had one friend that put a hanging plant hook in the ceiling and attached the fishing line to it. He simply hung a plant there the rest of the year. This is not a solution for everyone, but I thought it was a very creative way to protect his pets from having a tree fall on them.

Another concern would be a putting up a real tree. The tree itself is safe, but the sap that comes off of it can cause stomach upset. The needles can damage eyes should your pet get too close. If your dog swallows the needles it may cause him to vomit. Pine needles stuck in little paws can be uncomfortable, so it is important to keep the area swept.

Setting up an artificial tree is generally safer for pets, but it still requires that you be cautious. Puppies and kittens are chewers and could ingest things that could be health hazards.

Traditional Plants

Holly (the plant and the berries) and Mistletoe are notoriously found in homes over the holidays. These two plants are highly poisonous to both dogs and cats. Keep them up high and out of reach. If your pet swallows either of these plants, seek veterinary help immediately.

A few more things to look out for or avoid

Artificial snow (canned, spray on) contains chemicals that are poisonous to dogs and cats. If your pet licks it off of the tree, a decoration or a paw that has stepped in it, there could be serious complications. It may be best to just avoid this one altogether.

Ribbons, if swallowed, can cause intestinal blockage.

Candles. Wagging tails and climbing cats can get burned if the candles are accessible. Should the lit candles to be knocked down, there could be significant damage to your home and put your entire family in danger. Placing candles out of reach and opting for wide based or enclosed holders can reduce the risk. Always put candles out when you leave the room.

And finally, food.

There are many foods and treats left sitting out when you are entertaining over the holiday season. Guests who may not be pet savvy may unknowingly set a plate down with a turkey bone remaining on it or leave an alcoholic beverage in an accessible place. Be aware of what your guests are doing. Make sure no one is feeding the animals table scraps or treats that may be harmful. Many people are not aware of foods that should not be ingested by animals. Their good intentions may have not-so-good results.

Christmas is a time for fun and celebration for the entire family. By taking the time to pet-proof your season, you will ensure that this holiday season will be perfect!

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Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

I am not a veterinarian nor medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment

I had always known that along with the sunny spring weather came the increased risk of tick bites and Lyme Disease, but recently I learned that they can be found year-round in different areas. The rule of thumb is that temperatures over five degrees present a nice living environment for ticks, and increase the chances of your dog coming home with a stowaway on board. These pesky intruders can be very dangerous for your pet as well as you and your family. They carry and spread diseases, the most common being Lyme Disease.

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How do I know if my dog has a tick?

After each walk, it is recommended that you do a full body inspection of your dog. This is even more important if you have been in tall grass or wooded areas, as ticks tend to hide in these environments. If your dog sits, lays down, rolls around or even just sniffs the ground, one of these little insects can latch itself onto your pup and begin its mission to burrow into the surface of her skin. By doing a nose to tail inspection, you can find, remove and clean the area of the bite before the tick has enough time to do any damage. The longer a tick remains on your dog, the harder it is to remove. It also has more time to potentially spread any diseases it may be carrying. Ticks can stay on your dog for up to 10 days depending on the age of the tick.

What do ticks look like?
Ticks range in size, from the size of a flea up to about a centimeter long.
Tick bites and Lyme Disease can be dangerous to your pets and family
Tick bites and Lyme Disease can be dangerous to your pets and family.

Ticks range in size, from the size of a flea up to about a centimeter long. They have an oval-shaped body and a small head, with spider like legs. When you see or feel one on your dog, you will most likely see the body, as they burrow head-first into the skin. When you do your inspection, be sure you are in a well-lit area. Do both a visual and manual examination. Sometimes the tick buries itself in a particularly furry area, making it difficult to see. By using your finger tips to feel for bumps, you may find one that you overlooked.

How do I remove a tick from my dog?

To remove the tick safely, you must be sure to pull the entire head and body from the skin. There are special tools available for tick removal. People will tell you to use regular tweezers, but they can be very sharp on the ends. This can result in the body being detached from the head, and the head remaining in the dog. This is the one thing you are trying to avoid. The head is the part that is stuck in your dog’s body and the highest risk to your dog’s health.

You may have been told to use a dish soap or Vaseline concoction that will cause the tick to retreat on it’s own. Any vet I have spoken to has advised against these processes as they take longer and may or may not work.

Getting the tick out as quickly as possible is the goal. After it has been plucked out of your dog’s skin, wash the area with hydrogen peroxide and or rubbing alcohol. This will clean the wound left behind by the bite.

Once you have removed the tick, it is advisable to put it in a sealed bag and take it to your vet to be tested for Lyme Disease.

What symptoms should I watch for?

It can take several months for symptoms associated with a tick bite, most notably Lyme Disease, to appear. If at any time during this period she shows signs of fatigue, lethargy, muscle stiffness, joint pain or fever, you should take her to a vet to be tested. Even the testing can take several months. Sometimes the antibody that indicates Lyme Disease takes a while to show up in the blood. This test may have to be repeated a few times. The results will be compared to the previous levels of the antibody to monitor any increases in the levels.

How is Lyme Disease treated?

If found early enough, Lyme Disease can be treated with a simple antibiotic. Your vet may also prescribe pain meds to help with the stiffness and joint pain until the antibiotics run their course and the disease has been cleared from your pup’s system.

How do I prevent my dog from tick related illness?
  • Avoiding wooded or grassy areas during peak seasons.
  • Early detection from thorough daily inspection.
  • Fast removal of any ticks that are present during inspection.
  • Topical prevention medication applied between the shoulder blades.
  • Oral prevention medication taken at prescribed intervals

DO NOT USE TOPICAL PREVENTION MEDICATION IN A HOME WITH CATS AS THIS MEDICATION IS TOXIC TO CATS

ONLY USE MEDICATION AS PRESCRIBED OR ADVISED BY YOUR TRUSTED VETERINARIAN

Sources

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/how-to-remove-a-tick#1

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/akcs-chief-veterinary-officer-on-tick-borne-disease-symptoms-prevention/

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Crate Training your Puppy

When you must leave the house, make sure that there will be someone to let the pup out at regular intervals. A puppy is only physically capable of holding their bladder and bowels for a few hours.

Crate training is one of the most effective methods of puppy training. This is because, unless a puppy is desperate, he will not mess where he sleeps. It is important to follow certain steps and procedures to be successful. The goal is to avoid confusion and frustration for both you and your pup.

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Step One: Choosing the proper crate

When choosing“>small, safe chew toys to keep her entertained while spending time in the crate. Make sure there is a nice cushion for comfort. Place the crate in a location where your pup can see people and be involved with the family. Feeling isolated is scary and lonely. These are feelings we definitely do not want our pups to experience. This should become a safe haven for your pup. It will be where she runs to if she is feeling overwhelmed; a place to go when you have company or if she’s afraid during a thunderstorm.

Step Three: Leave the crate door open at first.

When introducing the crate and the concept of it being his place, leaving the crate door open indicates that this is not a place where he will always be confined, but a place where he should be free to enjoy whenever he wants to go inside. Once your puppy shows signs of being comfortable inside the crate, close the door for short periods of time so he gets used to the door being closed while resting or playing in there.

Step Four: Reward your pup for entering the crate on her own.

If your pup goes into her crate on her own, offer a reward in the form of a

Never use the crate as a punishment.

If your pup has an accident on the floor, it is common to react by sending him to a place out of the way so that you can clean up. Your dog will pick up on anger and tone and know that he has done something to upset you. If you send him to his crate when you are reacting to the incident, you are telling him that this is a place to go to when he has been “bad”. This places a negative tone on the crate and he will not want to go to the crate in the future.

Step Six: While you sleep, keep your puppy crated in your room.

If you keep her in your room, she will not have the sensation that she is isolated or that she has been left alone. This will also cause feelings of anxiety where the crate is concerned. The training will then take longer and will be more confusing for her. If she wakes in the night and cries or tries to get out, take her outside to do her business and return her to the crate as soon as she is done. This tells her that she sleeps in the crate at night and only comes out for potty purposes. This is not play time or a time to visit with everyone. It creates a clear schedule for her.

Step Seven: Never leave a puppy for more than 3 or 4 hours

When you must leave the house, make sure that there will be someone to let the pup out at regular intervals. Puppies are only physically capable of holding their bladders and bowels for a few hours. If you leave them for too long, they will not be able to control themselves and will wind up messing the crate and themselves. Once again, this makes the crate an unhappy place that your pup will want to avoid. Returning home or having someone come by to let your pup out will give him a chance to relieve himself. He will be able to stretch his legs and have a few minutes of stimulation in the form of smells and a change of and scenery. He will be happy to return to his crate after a brief visit.

Once your pup has mastered bladder and bowel control, you may want to keep using a crate and increase the size as needed, or upgrade to a pengated in a smaller room until it is safe to leave your pup to roam while alone in the house.

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