Monthly Archives

May 2015

Pet Sitter Instructions

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Pet Sitter Instructions

Hiring a pet sitter to look after your pet(s) while being away from home offers a number of benefits for both your four-legged friend(s) and yourself. Your pet(s) will be cared for at home where they feel safe, comfortable and happy. At the same time, they will be spared the stress of traveling/being transported for hours only to end up in an unfamiliar place. You, on the other hand, will be able to go on a vacation or business trip without the need to worry about your animal(s) safety, health and wellbeing while being away.

Things a Pet Sitter Needs to Know About You and Your Pet(s)Pet Sitting

In order for both pets and their owners to benefit from using a pet sitter, it is of utmost importance for the latter to have all the key information about both the pet(s) and their owner. Ideally, the sitter should be provided with detailed written instructions at least one day before the departure in order to be able to ask questions if having any and discus any special needs/requirements the pet(s) might have. If there is not enough time to go through the instructions with the chosen pet sitter, leave a written copy with relevant information which should include:

– Date of departure and return. Obviously, the sitter needs to know when and how long their services will be needed. Also, specify how many visits do you want and the preferred time. Be sure to contact your sitter immediately if there are any changes or delays in your return. If they aren’t able to cover the extra time, ask them for help in finding another pet sitter.

– Your contact information. Ideally, you should leave multiple contact options including your cell phone number, email address and land-line number if available in order for the sitter to be able to reach you in the event of an emergency.

– Your vet’s contact information. It is very important for your sitter to know where to turn to if your pet(s) needs an emergency veterinarian care/treatment. You are also recommended to let your vet know that you are going on a trip and how long you will be gone as well as the type of care to provide in case of an emergency while you are away.

– Where to find food, treats, medications, toys, collar/harness, waste bags and other grooming/care necessities. Equally important is to provide information about the amount and frequency of feeding, schedule for medications (if taking any), preferred activities (e.g. going for a walk), grooming needs, etc.

– Other. Your sitter will also appreciate information such as personality traits of your pet(s) especially when around strangers, behavior issues (if having any) like tendency to bite or history of running away, etc. Also, be sure to provide security information such as where do you keep a spare key, security system code and at least two emergency contacts in case you are unavailable.

Weight Management General Information

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Weight Management

According to a recent study, overweight problems are not limited to humans but affect their furry friends as well. The study found that more than 50% of both dogs and cats in the United States are either overweight or obese which puts them at an increased risk of a number of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and joint problems. And just like their human owners, overweight and obese pets have a shorter lifespan than their healthy-weight counterparts.

Causes of Weight Problems in Pets

Scale vs DogWeight problems in pets can be caused by a number of factors. In both dogs and cats, the risk of overweight and obesity increases with age-related decrease of physical activity. Another risk factor is breed as large breed dogs are more prone to overweight issues. A very common cause of weight problems in pets are also their human owners feeding them with too many calories, typically through treats and people food. Sometimes, however, weight issues in animals can be a symptom or complication of an underlying medical condition such as hormonal imbalances and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland).

Assessing Your Pet’s Weight – How to Determine if Your Pet is Overweight?

Before putting your pet on a diet and increasing the level of physical activity, you should first assess his/her weight and overall health to make sure that excess pounds are not related to a health problem. You can find many tools and guidelines to assess your pet’s weight online but the easiest and safest way to determine whether your pet needs to lose weight is to visit your vet. In addition to assessing your furry friend’s weight, your vet will also assess his/her overall health and help you create a weight loss plan that is safe and suitable for your pet based on his/her current weight, age, activity level and health status.

Weight Management Plan for PetsFat Lab

Weight management plan for overweight pets is virtually the same as that recommended for their overweight human counterparts: reduced daily caloric intake and increased level of physical activity.

To cut calories in your pet’s diet, you should first make a thorough assessment of all the foods (including treats) he/she normally eats, its amounts and frequency. Then calculate daily caloric intake and determine how many calories less your dog or cat should eat to lose excess weight. Be sure, however, to consult your vet, especially if your pet has a medical condition. In the latter case, your vet may recommend prescription diet food which was developed especially for overweight pets with health problems.

In addition to dietary changes in the form of reduced caloric intake, weight management plan for pets also foresees increased physical activity. Examples include regular walks and the use of treadmill for dogs, and toys encouraging physical activity for both dogs and cats.

You are recommended to have your pet’s weight loss monitored by your vet. He/she will also provide you with advice and guidance on how to help your furry friend maintain a healthy body weight when reaching it and live a happy, healthy and long life.

Rattlesnake Safety

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Rattlesnake Safety for Pets

Pet deaths due to rattlesnake bites are fortunately very uncommon. However, this is not because rattlesnakes are not dangerous or rarely encountered. On the contrary, their bites are very dangerous for both dogs and cats (and their human masters too!) Rattlesnake-pet encounters are getting increasingly common as a result of increased residential development shrinking the wildlife habitat. It isn’t always possible to prevent rattlesnake encounters and bites but there are several measures you can take to protect your pet(s) and reduce the risk of a potentially fatal bite to the minimum.

Rattlesnake Vaccine

The available rattlesnake vaccine reduces and delays reaction to the venom but it doesn’t provide immunity. So if you pet is bitten by a rattlesnake, he must be taken to a vet immediately even if being vaccinated. The vaccine has been approved only for dogs. Please discuss the benefits and drawbacks of rattlesnake vaccine with your vet.

Rattlesnake Avoidance Training

There are special courses to train dogs to avoid rattlesnakes. The goal is to discourage dogs from approaching a rattlesnake when encountering one by inducing negative association with the sight, smell and sound of this venomous snake.

Rattlesnake Safety at Home

Many rattlesnake bites occur where they are least expected – in home and yard. To keep rattlesnakes out of your home and yard, keep the lawn short and remove all potential hiding places such as bushes, rock and woodpiles. You are also recommended to consider snake fencing, especially if you are living near or adjacent wilderness. If you notice a snake in your home or yard, call animal control or the police to have it removed by professionals.

Rattlesnake Safety Away from HomePrevent Rattlesnake Bites

Rattlesnakes are most often hiding in dense brushy areas, tall grass and rocks. When walking your dog, avoid going off the trail, especially if bordering the snake’s habitat. Also, avoid narrow trails if possible to be able to see the snake on time. It is also recommended to keep your dog on a 6-foot leash in order to be able to react before your four-legged friend gets too close. The last but not the least important, be sure to take your cell phone to be able to call for help in case you need it.

What to Do if You Encounter a Rattlesnake?

If you encounter a rattlesnake, stop and gently pull your dog away from the snake if he is on a leash. If not, calmly but assertively command your dog to stay away and demand from him to follow you while slowly moving away.

If the Worst Happens…

If your pet gets bitten by a rattlesnake, don’t panic. Take your pet and get him to your vet immediately. The survival rate for pets receiving anti-venom promptly is over 90%. Don’t cut or suck the bite wound and don’t apply ice, heat or tourniquet. Also, don’t give your pet any medications. Go straight to your vet and if possible, call ahead to announce an emergency visit.

Leaving Dogs in Cars

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Leaving Dogs in Cars

Dogs should never be left alone in a car. Not even for five minutes no matter if the windows are cracked open or not. First, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rise dramatically in a matter of minutes. Second, there is virtually no difference in the temperature between a vehicle with slightly open and that with closed windows. And third, “just a minute” is never really just a minute.

The Facts and Figures

Every year, hundreds of dogs die because their owners were unaware or ignored the danger of the rapidly rising temperature inside a parked vehicle. Multiple studies measured the rate of the temperature rise inside parked cars and all found the temperature to rise to 80% of its maximum within the first 30 minutes. Researchers also compared the difference between cars with slightly open and closed windows and found it to be negligible. Likewise, they found no significant difference in the temperature rise between cars parked in the sun and those parked in the shade.

The rate of the temperature rise and the final temperature depend greatly on ambient temperature but it doesn’t have to be hot for the temperature inside the vehicle to become life threatening. It takes just a few minutes for the internal temperature to rise to 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit even at a relatively cool ambient temperature (72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit). During hot, sunny days (88 degrees Fahrenheit and more), parked cars heat up even more and faster, reaching up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 10 minutes.

Dogs Even More Vulnerable to Heatstroke than Children

Dogs are especially vulnerable to the effects of heat because they cool off by sweating through their paws where they have sweat glands and by panting. Neither, however, has much effect at a temperature of 150 and rising. As a result, heatstroke in dogs develops and progresses very rapidly, causing potentially life-threatening complications in as little as 15 minutes, especially if ambient temperature is high.

Heat Not the Only Danger for Dogs in Unattended VehiclesLocked in

It isn’t just the heat that puts dogs in unattended vehicles in danger. There are many reports of pets being stolen from cars or together with the vehicles. Also, leaving dogs in cars is just as dangerous in cold weather as in summer heat. Extremely low temperatures put your dog at risk of hypothermia which is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not receiving prompt treatment. Dogs should therefore never, under any circumstances be left alone in a car, not only for a few minutes. Instead, take your pet with you or better yet, leave him at home with a friend or pet sitter if you have errands to run.

What to Do if You See a Dog Left Alone in a Car?

If you see a dog left alone in a car, don’t assume that his owner will be right back. The majority of pet deaths in unattended vehicles are unintentional; their owners were either unaware of the danger they were putting their pets in or lost track of time while running errands. If you see a dog alone in a car, write down the color, model and license plate number, and ask for the vehicle’s owner at the nearby businesses. If the owner cannot be found in a matter of five minutes or if the animal is showing signs of distress, call animal control or the police and follow their instructions.