red goldendoodle sitting outside with bright pink bow on her headIt’s paw-ty time! It may be your pet’s “gotcha day” or birthday; it may be Christmas, Hanukkah, or Presidents Day; it may only be the first Monday in May. Whatever the date, including your pet in your celebrations is a lot of fun!

Since Cinco de Mayo is a few days away, we figured now would be a great time to give you some tips about how to safely and creatively celebrate with your pets.

Choose the right venue

Pick your location carefully. For parties that are inside, make sure you’ve “pet-proofed” the room. Keep in mind that dogs can get overtired or overwhelmed so consider keeping indoor parties to 45-90 minutes to avoid any mishaps.

For outdoor parties, if you don’t have a fenced in backyard consider renting space in a daycare or training facility or check out your local dog parks. Be sure to have plenty of baggies to clean up after all of the guests! With outdoor parties you have more flexibility on the length of the party, just let pup parents know they can come and go as their pups prefer!

Be your pet’s chef/bartender

What better way to celebrate with your pet than with a special treat? Whether you cook them up a feast or buy a “pup-cake,” your pet will love it! There are many great recipes for pet snacks online, including these dog safe cake recipes or these adorable “bark-aritas.”

Plan your treats with your pet in mind and keep the human food away from the pets. If you are holding a party with your pup’s best furr-iends, check to make sure none of them have food allergies ahead of time.

cream goldendoodle getting a pup-cake for birthday

If you aren’t a baker, there are many places you can purchase pup-friendly snacks and cakes. Check out some delicious treats from PetCakes!

 

When serving your treats give each guest their own plate or bowl to avoid any arguments over resources. And don’t forget to hydrate! Make sure that there are enough water bowls with fresh water for all of the pups.

Dress up with your pet

Choose a theme for your party that both you and your pet can participate in. If your pet likes to dress up, coordinate your outfits for a Hawaiian themed party with leis or an Cinco de Mayo party with sombreros. If your dog or cat isn’t interested in wearing anything, try to find a themed toy for them to enjoy (and for you to photograph them with!).

Invite their friends

If your dog (or even cat) has particular friends, send out invitations to include them in your pup’s party for some fun and romps. Be sure that you have chosen your venue with care though. Fenced in yards or rented doggy daycare facilities where your pup and their friends can safely celebrate with enthusiasm are best for larger groups.

Make sure any pets that you’ve invited are “pre-approved.” This is not the time to introduce a new dog to the crew, so only invite those who know each other and are comfortable together. Pet parents should be on hand to supervise during the paw-ty and to give any pup who may be feeling overwhelmed or anxious some quiet time out of the mix.

Inviting your pet’s friends can be great fun, but make sure you have safe activities planned. Consider putting out a kiddie pool or having a basket full of balls or frisbees (just make sure there’s enough to go around so no one gets jealous!). You could even plan an obstacle course or relay games for pets and their owners!

Spend time with your pet

You love your pet and they love you. Why not celebrate the holiday, whatever it may be, with some special one-on-one time with your pup or kitty? Take some time out of the holiday to do something you enjoy together, whether it’s playtime, a meandering stroll, or just a nice snuggle on the couch.

Donate in their honor

Give other pets the chance for the love and care your pet found with you. Consider donating to a shelter or rescue to help them feed and house pets who are waiting for their fur-ever homes. Share your donation and your pet’s celebration on social media to help spread the word and raise more funds for pets in need.

Cat Parties

For those of us who are cat owners, we know that the idea of a large group of people/animals can be quite scary. Instead of overwhelming your cat, try these party ideas:

  • Plan a small guest list, limiting the invitees to family and friends your cat knows well. Likely your cat would appreciate them leaving their own pets at home unless they are already good friends.
  • Choose a quiet and cozy venue. Pick a room in your home where you cat feels comfortable and make sure you create some safe places where the cat can retreat if he or she needs to take a break.
  • Make the games cat friendly. Consider having your guests play with a laser or some new toys with your cat. Keep everything laid back, but don’t forget the catnip!

Now that you have these tips, go ahead and celebrate your pup’s Bark Mitzvah or your kitty’s Howl-o-ween in style!

Many of us can see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Maybe your company has announced a return to work date. Maybe you are starting to travel again, either for business or pleasure. But what about our pets? They’ve been by your side 24 hours a day for the past year and will struggle to adjust or readjust to the new normal. How do you help prepare your pet for that eventuality? And how do you help them cope with the adjustment when you do return to normal?

 

How to prepare your pet?

The most important thing to do is start preparing your pet for the coming change now. According to Marjie Alonso, the executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, we have to remember that our pets are individuals and just like us they are having differing reactions to this quarantine. Now is the time to start helping them adjust to the upcoming transition. Here are some tips from animal experts to help you help your pets:

  • Teach your pet independence and how to be alone comfortably.
    • Catch your pet being calm throughout the day, especially when the dog is ignoring you, and reward him or her with calm and pleasant attention.
    • Give your pet something delicious when you leave. Alonso states that “If you start stuffing that Kong with mashed potatoes and roast beef every time you walk out the door, the dog is going to be like, ‘Here’s your coat.’”
    • Provide separation with baby gates or doors for short periods of time, giving your pet a special treat or a puzzle toy, slowly allowing your pet to self-soothe and accept being alone.
  • If you are home all day, make sure you ignore your pet sometimes and do not give him or her constant attention or give in to constant demands.
    • You should not set attention and activity levels now that are difficult or impossible to maintain when you transition back to work, according to Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior researcher at the University of California-Davis.
    • Delgado also states that owners should not work in places (like the sofa) that pets associate with cuddles or play to avoid sending mixed cues to their pets.
  • Make sure your pet has alone time daily.
    • Alonso suggests that you make sure your pet has alone time. If you used to leave for work at a specific time go through your normal preparations (put on shoes, grab purse or briefcase and keys) and leave the house for a short period of time.
    • Dog trainer Tracy Krulik, who specializes in separation anxiety, agrees with Alonso, stating “take time away from your dog daily, even if it is to sit under a tree or take a work call from your car.”
    • Laura Sharkey, a dog trainer in Arlington Virginia, reminds owners that if your dog was previously crated when you went to work, he or she should still have some alone time in their crates. Crate training can give your pet a safe space and can help your pup learn that being alone is ok and is even sometimes preferable.
  • Provide mental stimulation for your pet, both while they are alone and while you are home.
    • Sharkey tells owners to take breaks form work to run through obedience cues or teach new tricks or give meals in food puzzles. It’s important to give your pets mental stimulation so that they are better able to cope with their alone time.
    • Fear Free veterinarians and behaviorists suggest that owners meet their pet’s physical, social and exploratory needs every day with routine, scheduled activities including play, positive reinforcement training, leashed walks, or environmental enrichment.
    • A tired pet is a less destructive pet. Make sure you provide mental and/or physical exercise before your pet spends hours alone. This way they are more willing to settle down for a long nap instead of chewing on your favorite pair of sandals.
  • Make sure your arrivals and departures are not a big deal. If you make a fuss over your pet when you come home or leave they may be more likely to believe it is something to stress over.
    • Dr. Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of behavior medicine at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, gives owners the following advice: “When you are heading out for your first day back at work, it would be best to give them a brisk walk or a game of fetch before you leave. Before you leave be sure to leave a long-lasting treat such as a rawhide or a Kong toy with frozen melted cheese inside. When you come home don’t greet them until they are calm and not jumping on you or running in circles.”

What to do when you go back to work/school?

  • Continue the routine: As much as possible, maintain the routine you established during quarantine. Take a morning walk or have a morning playtime, get ready for work, then give your pup a frozen Kong or your cat a puzzle toy and head out.
  • Utilize the tools at your disposal: Don’t forget that you can use calming pheromones, supplements, or comfort vests to help your pet stay calm during this transition until they have adjusted to the new normal. This blog post goes into more detail about separation anxiety and the tools that may help.
  • Don’t wait: If your pet is showing signs of developing or increasing anxiety contact your veterinarian. Left untreated, anxiety often worsens over time.
  • Get help: Pet sitters and dog walkers can help with this transition! Pet sitters can come give your cats some socialization and enrichment time to entertain them while you are at work. Sitters can also come play with or walk your dog to help them deal with any anxieties that have resulted from your return to work. Check out our services and rates to find one that fits your needs and let our sitters help you and your pet!

Just like people, dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy and keeping your dog active is important for both their physical and mental health. April is Canine Fitness Month, so there’s no better time to grab your sneakers and a leash and get out there with your pup!

black lab puppy standing in grass with front leg resting on blue ball

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise is essential to all dogs, regardless of size, age, or breed. If you’re just starting out, be sure to build up your exercise routine slowly as both you and your dog build your endurance. Some of the benefits of exercise include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and body condition helps your dog live longer and may help prevent diabetes and weigh-related joint problems
    • Check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog doesn’t have any underlying conditions prior to beginning an exercise routine and to discuss what kind and how much exercise would be beneficial to your dog
  • Exercise in moderation is good for older dogs to help keep their joints and muscles intact and functional
    • If your senior pup has arthritis or is recovering from an injury, you may need to shorten your exercise or make it less strenuous
  • Exercise can help all dogs, but especially young dogs, reduce boredom, anxiety, and stress, which can lead to destructive or reactive behaviors

Exercising your dog can also provide you with some great benefits including:

  • Strengthening your bond with your pet
  • Boosting your mood and lowering your blood pressure
  • Motivating you to continue to exercising regularly and stay healthy

Exercise Ideas

 

black lab in bright green collar standing on hind legs to sniff flowers on a stone wall

Get walking

This is probably the easiest way to start exercising your pup. You don’t need anything but a pair of comfy shoes and a leash! Take your pup around the neighborhood for some new smells for them and some fresh air for you while getting your bodies moving.

 

Go to the dog park

If your dog is friendly and has good recall a dog park can be an excellent addition to your pup’s exercise routine. Just make sure you keep an eye on your dog so that interactions stay fun and not stressful. For more tips on how to keep your dog safe and happy at the dog park, read our blog post here.

Go for a hikeblack lab running through shallow water on rocky shoreline with lake in the

Taking your pup hiking can be fun for both of you! You both get new sights and smells from your regular neighborhood walks and tromping around in nature is both mentally and physically rewarding.

Take your pup swimming

Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog when it’s hot outside! Did you know that 4 minutes of swimming is the same as one mile of running for dogs in terms of calories burned? Swimming is gentle on your dog’s joints, making it a great way to exercise an older dog or a dog recovering from an injury. Just be sure to never leave your pup near the water unattended.

Try a new activity like agility or dock divingblack lab puppy in metal tunnel outside

There are so many great activities that you can do with your dog! FitPaws USA, who founded Canine Fitness Month, has some great ideas on fun activities to do with your pup, like hide and seek, fetch, obstacle courses, or even dog yoga. Check out some of their videos here. Just a heads up, you may need some extra supplies for those videos but you can make your own agility equipment if you’re interested.

If you want a more organized activity, many training facilities provide agility training classes on real equipment or scent tracking and lure coursing classes for those dogs more interested in “prey” than in obstacles. Depending on where you live you may even find a dock diving facility for those pups that you just can’t keep out of the water!

Don’t have time to get those walks in with your dog? Check out our services to schedule a dog walk with our amazing pet sitters!

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month and this week is National Poison Prevention Week. With businesses opening back up and people no longer staying home 24/7 with their pets, we want to be sure that when our pets are home alone they stay safe. Most of us know that our pets cannot eat chocolate or grapes, but do you know what else in your home could be toxic to your pets? Here are 5 tips to pet proof your home along with a bonus list of poisonous household items that should be kept away from your pets.

black cat sitting on counter staring at refrigerator

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Tip #1:

Know what foods are toxic. We’ve all snuck our pets a little snack while cooking or eating, but many of those snacks could be toxic. Chocolate and alcohol are the prime examples, but lesser known items like macadamia nuts, grapes, garlic, onions, raisins, yeast-based dough, table salt, or sugar-free foods that often contain xylitol can be extremely dangerous to pets. For a more complete list go to the Pet Poison Helpline’s website.

Tip #2:

Keep out the toxins. The best way to prevent pet poisoning is to avoid keeping anything that could cause problems. Check your home for potential hazards and easily accessible toxins and then make a plan to secure, or better yet, remove them. Did you know that the fragrance diffuser in your living room could cause neurological issues in your pets? If you place rodent bait or rodent traps in areas your pet cannot access, keep in mind the rats/mice may move them so it’s best not to use them at all. Consider contacting a local pest control company to ask about pet safe alternatives.

For a room by room list of potential toxins, check out HealthcareInsider’s blog here.

Tip #3: 

Use locking cabinets and garbage bins to keep chemicals out of reach. The Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota (AERC) suggests that if you need to keep certain items like household cleaners or medications, be sure they are completely secured away from pet access. Your cat may be able to open bathroom and kitchen cabinets to search for things to get into or snack on unless you prevent that. Also consider putting your purse/briefcase that may contain items like sugarless gum or medications in a secure location rather than on a counter.

Tip #4:

Avoid harmful plants. Some of the most beautiful or common plants are also the most toxic to our pets. While a wide variety of plants can be toxic, especially to our cats, the most common according to the Pet Poison Helpline are the Azalea, Oleander, Lily, Daffodil, Tulip, or Hyacinth. For a more complete list, check the ASPCA’s guide.

Tip #5:

Recognize the signs of poisoning. Signs or symptoms of poisoning can vary, but the most common are:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling or nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing/vomiting blood
  • Discoloration of the gums
  • Stool/urine abnormalities
  • Lack of appetite or excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in behavior

You should know your pet’s “normal” behavior and eating/drinking/excretion habits to be able to recognize any changes.

Bonus tip:

Add the phone numbers for your veterinarian, emergency hospital, and pet poison helpline to your contacts list. If there is an emergency you do not want to waste time searching for phone numbers online.

 

What are the most toxic household items?

According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animas (ASPCA)’s Animal Poison Control Center, the following are the most common causes of pet poisoning in America:

  • Over the counter medications – Pets may ingest everything from vitamins and herbal supplements to cold and pain medications, resulting in 1 in every 5 calls to the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).
  • Human prescription medications – We often leave our daily pills for heart problems, antidepressants and anxiety, ADHD, or even acid reflux disease in an easy to access location, but that means they could also be easy to access for our pets.
  • Human food – The third most common cause of pet poisoning is access to human food that is toxic to pets including xylitol sweetener, grapes, onions, raisins, and of course, chocolate. Chocolate alone accounts for the fourth most common call to the APCC.
  • Veterinary products – Many of the heart-worm or flea/tick medications we give to our pets are flavored like beef or tuna to make them easier to administer, but that also means that they could smell pretty tasty. Child-proof caps won’t stop a dog from chewing through the container to have a few extra snacks.
  • Household items – Most of us know to keep paint, glue, and cleaning products away from our pets, but the pandemic has increased the number of calls about poisonings from bleach, alcohol, and other products used to combat the virus. Be sure that all of your household chemicals are locked away from your pets.
  • Rodenticides and Insecticides – Most rat poisons are made to attract rats, but our pets (and other outdoor animals) may find them tasty too. Bug sprays and ant bait can also be tempting to pets or the fumes/spray can spread and harm your pets.
  • Plants – Many indoor and outdoor plants are poisonous to our pets. That beautiful lily may look great on your windowsill, but can cause kidney failure in your cats and the sago palm in your living room can result in severe liver failure.

For a complete list of potential household toxins check the Pet Poison Control or ASPCA Animal Poison Control websites.

 

What to do if you think your pet is poisoned?

If you believe that your pet ate something he or she shouldn’t have, the faster you react the better the potential outcome.

  • Step 1: Remove your pet from the area so that the poison is out of reach.
  • Step 2: Call you veterinarian or a 24/7 poison helpline. Even if your pet is breathing and acting normally they still may have been exposed to a toxin.
  • Step 3: Wait to treat your pet until speaking with a professional. They may indicate home monitoring or an immediate veterinary visit. Do not induce vomiting or attempt any home remedies unless directed to do so.

Call Animal Poison Control Center (888)-462-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at (855)-764-7661

Photo via Rawpixel

 

How to Give Your Dog the Ultimate Life of Luxury

 

Who doesn’t love a good massage, a top-notch meal, and a pillowy bed to fall into at the end of the day? Just like us humans, dogs always welcome a little luxury. Pampered pups enjoy long, happy lives thanks to the additional attention that is given to their physical and mental health. If you love spoiling your furry friend and you have the budget for it, why not go all out?

 

Check out the following tips for fun ways to spoil your dog, courtesy of Whiskers to Tails Petsitting.

 

Find a Luxurious Bed

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs spend about 50 percent of their day sleeping and another 30 percent awake but still lounging around. A good dog bed will keep your dog warm, give them space to stretch out, and support their joints—which is especially important as they get older.

 

Spoil your dog with a luxurious bed to help them relax in peace and get sound sleep during the night. Keep the size of your dog in mind as you search for a dog bed. A large dog might benefit from an orthopedic or memory foam bed to cushion their weight, while a small dog might need a self-warming bed to provide additional warmth in the winter months. In the summer, you may even want to get a second bed to keep outside for those summery afternoon naps.

 

Another option to consider (that can be used indoors or out!) is an elevated bed. This style has gained popularity over the last few years because they’re great for regulating your dog’s body temperature. When it’s chilly, they keep your pooch off the cold floor (often the case with tile flooring in the winter) or ground outside. When it’s hot, they allow cool air to flow underneath, keeping your pet from overheating. Plus, large dogs—especially those with joint issues—may find them easier to get in and out of, since they don’t have to lower themselves down as far when getting on and don’t have to raise themselves all the way up when getting off.

 

Cook for Your Dog

Dogs, just like humans, need all kinds of essential vitamins and minerals to function at their best. This is why it’s important to buy high-quality dog food. DVM 360 recommends learning how to read dog food labels so you can look for key nutritional sources that your pet needs every day.

 

If you have the time, why not supplement your dog’s dry food diet with some home-cooked meals? This is an excellent opportunity to spoil your dog a little more, adding some mouth-watering variety and additional nutrition to their regular diet. AllRecipes has several great recipes for healthy homemade dog food to help you start cooking five-star meals for your furry friend, or you can order up healthy meal deliveries for your pampered pooch!

 

Splurge on a Spa Day

If you really want to give your dog a taste of the high life, treat them to a spa day. One spa treatment that your dog is sure to love is a massage—who wouldn’t? Dog massages relieve anxiety, ease pain, improve circulation, and can help dogs heal from an injury or surgery. Your dog will also benefit from a professional grooming at the spa. Bathing will help your dog maintain a healthy coat, trimming around the face and ears will prevent infections, and nail clipping will promote optimal foot health. Plus, the groomer will check for bumps, wounds, infections, or skin conditions that may need treatment.

 

Buy Some Interactive Toys

We all love buying things for our dogs. Go the extra mile and get your dog some interactive toys to prevent boredom and enrich their mental health. Puzzle toys will encourage your dog to problem-solve, which makes them much more engaging than your typical squeaking animal. Consider getting a few and swapping them out every once in a while to keep your dog guessing.

Another idea is to keep some indoor games in your back pocket for rainy days. Both you and Fido will enjoy a little romp together, blowing off steam and making memories! And for times when you’re busy, you can stream shows just for your four-legged family member.

 

Doggy television can be a real plus for busy times, but keep in mind you might experience latency if your whole household depends on WiFi. Thankfully, you can get 5G wireless these days, so the whole family can surf at the same time, whether it’s Fido’s entertainment, the kids’ school lessons or your work. You might even decide to hook your pooch up with some more tech tools, like a smartfeeder or ball game.

 

Go for an Outing

For most dogs, there’s nothing more exciting than going on an adventure with their favorite human. Take your pup on outings to make Fido feel like a star, and don’t be afraid to get creative—your pet will love mixing it up! Try some of these ideas:

 

  • Take a “sniff walk” where your dog’s nose leads the way. This can be especially exciting for tracking dogs like bloodhounds, German shepherds, and beagles.
  • Find a hiking trail at a local park that you can explore together. Just make sure it won’t be too tough for your pet to trek.
  • Take a car ride to your favorite dog-friendly pet store and let your furry friend pick out a new toy.
  • If you’re too busy to go exploring with your pet, ask your favorite dog walker to take them for a walk.

If you believe that it’s impossible to spoil a dog too much, you’re not alone. Pet owners are always looking for opportunities to pamper their beloved furry friends. It feels good to treat our dogs to tasty snacks, soft bedding, and fun outings. After all, they deserve it for showering us with all that love!

 

For more information, tips and ideas to keep you and your furry friends healthy and happy, connect with Whiskers to Tails Petsitting!

February is Pet Dental Health Month! We all know that we are supposed to brush and floss our teeth regularly to maintain oral health, but did you know that your pets also need regular dental care? Approximately 70% of cats  and 80% of dogs in the United States are affected by dental disease. Dental health is about more than just clean teeth. Caring for your pet’s oral hygiene can help prevent health problems later.

Why Dental Health Matters

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), dental disease is “a painful condition that occurs when bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up on the teeth and get trapped beneath the gumline. The bacteria can be absorbed into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on other major organs throughout the body.” The AAHA states that dental disease starts early in life and that the majority of dogs and cats have some degree of dental disease by the age of 3.

Dental disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s teeth and gums; it can also affect the function of other organs and body systems. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats and can lead to kidney, liver, and heart changes in your pet’s older years. Neglecting your pet’s teeth can cause chronic pain and may even lead to weight loss and behavioral changes.

Signs of dental disease or issues with your pet’s oral health include:

  • Bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • Pain in or around the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Always be sure to schedule regular veterinary exams for your pets. Annual exams include a dental check-up, which can help you catch signs of dental disease early. Be sure to mention anything out of the ordinary, like foul smelling breath or excessive drooling, to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will also provide regular teeth cleanings, extractions, or repairs if necessary to help maintain your pet’s oral health.

Providing regular home dental care for your pets can help prevent problems like bad breath or tooth loss as well as keep any dental disease from worsening, thus causing chronic pain or organ damage.

Not sure how much you already know about your pet’s dental health? Take this quiz from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to find out!

Tools for Home Dental Care

  • Toothbrushes: Be sure to use a pet appropriate toothbrush. You can use soft bristled brushes that look much like human toothbrushes but are smaller or finger brushes with rubber bristles. Some people even use gauze wrapped around their finger, but be careful it doesn’t snag on your pet’s teeth if you do that.
  • Toothpaste: Always use pet safe toothpastes; never use human toothpaste. Human toothpaste includes foaming agents and other chemicals that can upset your pet’s stomach. Pet toothpastes come in a variety of types and flavors. You can get gels or pastes in chicken, beef, liver, mint, or peanut butter flavors to encourage your pet’s enjoyment of the process. There are even some oral sprays that are designed to help break down tartar build-up, but make sure you introduce that slowly to your pet as well because the action of the spray bottle could be startling or stressful.
  • Chews and toys: There are many types of dental chews and regular toys that can aid in caring for your pet’s teeth and gums. Products like Greenie chews or Nylabone toys are frequently recommended by experts. Playing tug with a rope toy can even help “floss” your pet’s teeth.

Check out this helpful video from the AVMA about the tools and tricks for caring for your pet’s dental health at home.

 

Tips for Home Dental Care

Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the most effective thing you can do between dental cleanings to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy, and may even prolong the period between required dental cleanings. It’s not easy to brush your pet’s teeth every day (I know from experience), but even brushing 2-3 times per week can make a huge difference.

  • Start a routine when your pet is young. We don’t always have our dogs and cats as puppies and kittens, but starting a dental care routine as soon as you become their owner is important. You can always start later as well, but will likely face more resistance from your pet.
  • Start your routine slowly. Buying a toothbrush and pet toothpaste at the local pet supply store and immediately attempting to start brushing your pet’s teeth can be frustrating for you and scary for your pet. For both dogs and cats try to start small and work your way up to a full brushing over weeks or months. Here are some helpful steps from Petco to get you started:
    • Let your pet get accustomed to the toothpaste by allowing them to lick it off of your finger
    • Let your pet check out the toothbrush/finger brush and give them plenty of treats to encourage a good association
    • Massage your pet’s teeth and gums with your finger to get them used to the feeling, both with and without the toothpaste
    • Put toothpaste on the toothbrush/finger brush and brush just one tooth or a couple of teeth
    • Slowly work your way up to more teeth and longer brushing
  • Feed your pet a healthy, well-balanced diet. We know that your pet’s overall health begins with a good diet, but did you know that many dental health issues are caused by malnutrition? Work with your veterinarian to address your pet’s nutrition and develop a healthy eating plan. Consider feeding a VOCH (Veterinary Oral Health Council) approved pet food. Some pet food brands offer specifically formulated dental care foods designed to help reduce plaque and tartar build-up.
  • Offer your pet dental treats and chews. There are many brands of dental treats and chews out there. Try to find brands that are VOHC-Approved, as those have been scientifically proven to help reduce tartar build-up. There are many types of chews for both dogs and cats that are designed to help care for teeth while indulging your pet in some quality entertainment. Be careful with chews (like bones or antlers) that are hard to bend or break easily, as those can potentially result in fractured or broken teeth. While treats and chews cannot replace regular brushing, they can be a great addition to an oral health routine, and lots of fun for your pets!

black cat sitting in dryer reaching out toward camera

 

There’s no doubt that our furry friends add heaps of joy to our lives. Pet owners handle the quirks and oddities that their companions bring with a touch of good humor. But sometimes there are little things that new pet owners, and some veteran pet owners, may not have realized. When we say that pet hair can get everywhere, we mean literally everywhere. And it can gum up even the best built machines.

You’re probably familiar with the vacuum cleaner losing suction and needing to be serviced due to excessive pet hair. That’s not the only appliance in your home that needs a little extra maintenance when there are shedding dogs and cats in the home though.

 

The Washer and Dryer

You probably do a little bit of maintenance on your washer and dryer anyway, and you may be familiar with cleaning out the lint trap in your dryer. But did you know your washer also has a filter that needs to be cleaned out regularly? If you’re the proud owner of a heavy shedder like the popular golden retriever, you’ll want to clean out the filter of your washing machine regularly. The more shedding your pets do, the more it gets on your clothes, and your washing machine gets the first go at cleaning all that out.

If you completely neglect this simple task, then a quick wash out could turn into an archeological excavation after the machine stops working entirely. On the plus side, it doesn’t need to be done as often as your dryer lint.

 

The HVAC System

Your HVAC system refers to the appliances that heat and cool your home. In North America, this is usually an air conditioner and a furnace combo. All HVAC systems have a ventilating system where warm or cool air is delivered via ductwork to different rooms in the house. And because air is traveling through an open system, this means there are areas where pet hair can be introduced. A good filter will stop the pet hair from reaching the components of your system, but filters do wear out over time. If all you have is a beagle or a cat, a quality filter should last about three months. But the more pets you have and the more shedding that occurs, the more important it is to check the filters and replace them regularly. It’s so important that some HVAC companies even recommend reducing the shedding with regular grooming.

 

The Computer and TV

Pet hair drifts everywhere, as many pet owners know. Another common place to find a build-up of pet hair or dander is across your television or inside of your computer, mouse, and keyboard. While it may be annoying to have cat hair scattered across your televiosn while watching a movie, it does not tend to be as damaging as large amounts of pet hair inside of your computer, which can slow processing or cause an increase in heat without the ability to vent it safely. Vacuum regularly around your computer and other electronics and dust with a soft cloth (never spray electronics directly with cleaner). You can also use canned air to spray hair away from your keyboard and the bottom of your mouse. For more detail on how to clean your electronics check out this article from the Spruce.

 

Pet Hair under the Fridge

This is one of the worst places to deal with pet hair. Fridges are heavy and the items inside are not always perfectly sealed. Moving them around can be a hassle. But if you have ever moved one aside you may have noticed that pet hair clinging to the metal under the fridge or up against the wall. The problem occurs if the pet hair becomes so dense that it clogs up the refrigerator’s condenser coils. When this happens, the fridge stops cooling the way it was designed to. Fortunately, you can use a vacuum cleaner with a thin attachment to get into most hard-to-reach places, including around the fridge. If the coils are already clogged, there is a special brush for refrigerator coils you can use. On the plus side, this is not something that takes too long or has to be done too frequently in most situations.

 

Although it seems like a lot, the truth is that pet hair just accelerates the regular maintenance we should all be doing on our homes anyway. Instead of vacuuming once every two weeks, we might have to do it every Saturday. Instead of changing the filter once every three months, it might be every other month now. And that is okay, because our walking fluff balls are worth it.

Besides regular home mainentance, there are a few things you can do to minimize the amount of hair tumbleweeds blowing around your house before they get caught in various appliances. By regularly grooming your pets you can often reduce the amount that they shed. That may mean combing your kitty once a day or bathing your Bassett Hound monthly. Those of us with double coated dogs know that the few times a year that they “blow out their coats” feel like it’s snowing dog hair in your home. Have a specific place (probably one that is well contained) to brush your dog daily through that time period and promptly collect that hair so it doesn’t have a chance to travel. You could even put that excess hair outside; birds love to line their nests with animal hair for warmth!

If you notice that your pet is shedding escessively it may be a sign of stress, poor nutrition, or a medical issue. If your pet’s shedding patterns change, you may need to consider a trip to your veterinarian to check for underlying conditions.

 

Author: Brett Elliott

Brett is writer, digital marketer, and pet lover with three dogs. Brett often writes for Home Service companies such as https://lakesideheating.com/ who helped sponsor this story.

 

 

Whiskers to Tails Petsitting is proud to announce that it has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award (SSA). This award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2020.

“Despite the enormous challenges facing our service pros throughout 2020, our Angie’s List Super Service Award winners continued to provide exceptional customer service,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These outstanding businesses have helped homeowners not only maintain their homes, but also evolve them into safe and comfortable spaces that can handle all the mess of life, work, school and entertainment under one roof. Our homeowners’ consistent positive reviews make it clear: these are the best pros in our network.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2020 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an exceptional rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The SSA winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List and undergo additional screening.

Whiskers To Tails Petsitting’s owner, Claire Newcom, gives credit to her amazing team of pet sitters for the company’s excellent service through the years. “Our pet sitters are committed to providing top notch care to all of their four-legged clients, and even though this past year has been quite a challenge, I’m proud of our team for being flexible and adjusting to the times while still maintaining that exceptional level of service,” said Newcom.

This is the 8th time Whiskers To Tails Petsitting has won an Angie’s List Super Service Award since 2011.

Service company ratings are updated continually on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in multiple fields ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

For over two decades Angie’s List has been a trusted name for connecting consumers to top-rated service professionals. Angie’s List provides unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.

Whiskers To Tails Petsitting is locally owned and operated and has served the Twin Cities metro and surrounding suburbs since 2010, coming to client homes to care for their pets while they are traveling or working long hours. Services include pet sitting, dog walking, and overnight sitting. Whiskers To Tails Petsitting is bonded and insured and its pet sitters all undergo criminal background checks. Go to http://www.whiskerstotailspetting.com to learn more or reserve a pet sitting service.

This Wednesday is the presidential inauguration and marks not only a transfer of power for our country but an auspicious day for our four legged friends. This Inauguration Day is the first time a shelter dog will become First Dog (don’t tell Champ that I gave Major that title!). Joe Biden will bring his two German Shepherd pups, Champ and Major, to the White House to assist him in the very difficult task of running the United States of America. While Champ is an old hand at this governing business, having lived in the White House during the Obama administration, Major is about to become a very important (to dogs anyway) part of American history! I’m sure Champ will show him the ropes and that both pups are up to the task of helping their Dog Dad Joe through the next four years.

Close up of older German Shepherd and German Shepherd puppy cuddling

In honor of Champ and Major’s “indoguration,” we’ve compiled some fun facts and lists of the presidential pets of the past. Check them out below!

Weirdest White House Pets:

While many of us would expect the occasional dog or cat to pop up in presidential history, I doubt anyone would expect William Henry Hippopotamus. That’s right, President Calvin Coolidge owned a hippo he nicknamed “Billy.” But don’t worry, it was only a pygmy hippo. Speaking of Coolidge, he owned or was gifted a wide variety of odd animals, although many of them were donated to the zoo.

  • John Quincy Adams supposedly had an alligator, formerly owned by the Marquis de Lafayette, that lived in the East Room in it’s own bath tub, but as no proof has been obtained, this might just be a myth
  • Adams’ wife Louisa kept silkworms
  • Thomas Jefferson had several mockingbirds throughout his administration along with two grizzly bear cubs very briefly
  • Benjamin Harrison had two opossums as well as (supposedly) 2 alligators that he kept in the White House Conservatory
  • Theodore Roosevelt counted many odd animals as pets, most notably several bears, a pig, a badger, snakes, a hyena, a lion, and a zebra
  • Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of 48 sheep on the White House lawn to keep it trimmed and sold the wool to benefit the Red Cross, way to think outside the box Wilson!
  • Calvin Coolidge also briefly owned two lion cubs from South Africa and several Pekin ducks along with several raccoons, a bobcat, and even more briefly a wallaby, a duiker (antelope), and a black bear
  • While we don’t consider Siamese cats that exotic these days, when Rutherford B Hayes was president, he was the first person to bring that breed to the states with his two kitties, Siam and Miss Pussy; Hayes also had a small menagerie including cows, goats, canaries, a mockingbird and more

Funniest Presidential Pet Names:

  • George Washington named his coonhounds Drunkard, Taster, Tipler, and Tipsy; he certainly had a theme there
  • John Adams had a dog named Satan
  • Benjamin Harrison had two opossums named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection
  • William McKinley named his yellow-headed Mexican parrot Washington Post
  • Theodore Roosevelt had so many animals that we could list them for days (well, not really, but it feels like it!) but some of our favorite names are Emily Spinach the garter snake, Fierce the one-legged rooster, and Baron Spreckle the hen
  • William Howard Taft’s daughter Helen had 2 cows named Mooly Wooly and Pauline Wayne
  • Warren G Harding must have been tired of coming up with names, he had a canary named Petey and a squirrel named Pete
  • Calvin Coolidge had some excellent names for his menagerie, but some of the best are Boston Beans the bulldog, Do-Funny the songbird, and Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau the lion cubs
  • John F Kennedy, or more likely his daughter, had two ponies named Macaroni and Leprechaun
  • Maybe not the most creative, but definitely amusing, Lyndon B Johnson named his beagles Him and Her; you guessed it, one was a boy and the other a girl
  • Great naming abilities run in Jimmy Carter’s family; he named his border collie Grits and his daughter named their cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang
  • Bonus fun fact: We often call dogs by the generic name Fido, which came from Abraham Lincoln’s dog Fido, who was famously assassinated just a few months after Lincoln

Pets Gifted to Presidents:

Some people like Senator Ted Kennedy gift presidents with adorable Portuguese Water Dog puppies like Bo (to the Obamas). Other people like the King of Siam gift presidents with a herd of elephants. Don’t worry, James Buchanan gave all of them away except for one, which he kept along with a pair of bald eagles.

  • Royal Gift was an Andalusian donkey given to George Washington by King Charles III of Spain
  • Captain Zebulon Pike gifted Thomas Jefferson with those two aforementioned grizzly bears. Thankfully, he deemed them too troublesome to keep at home and donated them to a museum in Philadelphia
  • Martin Van Buren was gifted 2 tiger cubs by Said bin Sultan, Sultan of Muscat and Oman, but was asked to donate them to the zoo by Congress
  • The hyena mentioned above, named Bill, was gifted to Roosevelt by Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia
  • Soviet Union Premier Krushchev gave John F Kennedy a dog name Pushinka, one of the puppies of Soviet Space Dog Strelka

Bonus: The president with the most pets

Theodore Roosevelt had one of the largest if not the largest menagerie to ever occupy the White House. (He and Coolidge are neck-in-neck depending on how you want to count pets.) Throughout his presidency Roosevelt had ten dogs, two cats, a rat, a snake, a pig, a rabbit, a “small bear,” a macaw, a hyena, a pony, a lizard, and a badger. That’s not to mention his guinea pigs Admiral Dewey, Bishop Doane, Dr. Johnson, Father O’Grady, and Fighting Bob Evans and a wide variety of animals that he had briefly before donating them to zoos or museums.

Runners up Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson would interact with large groups of animals. Lincoln loved cats and could be found playing with any kittens he came across through his travels. Andrew Johnson had taken to feeding the white mice that lived in his White House bedroom as a stress reliever.

 

brown tabby cat sitting in a cardboard box staring out of a hole cut in the sidePhoto credit: Pixabay

 

What Your Pets Want You to Know About Moving to a New Home Together

 

It’s the new year and along with New Year Resolutions, many of us may be preparing for a change in our jobs, homes, locations, or future plans. If your plans this year include a move, here are some tips to help your pet cope with the change.

If you’re feeling stressed about your upcoming move, imagine how your pets must feel! Pets don’t understand what all the hustle and bustle is about, but they do sense our emotions, including stress. It isn’t realistic to think you could eliminate that stress entirely, but what you can do is lower the stress level for humans and animals alike. Whiskers to Tails Petsitting offers the following advice when moving with your pet.

 

Preparing to Move

While you’re busy taking care of preparations, don’t forget to prepare your pets too (just like you prepared before bringing your dog home for the first time). One of the first things to do is check that their health needs, vet care, and vaccinations are in order. Not only do you need these documents to transition to a new vet, but you’ll also want to be sure that they’re in good health before making such a big transition.

 

This is also a good time to ensure all pets are getting a nutritious diet because this can make a big difference in alleviating health problems. Puppy parents should take extra care in choosing puppy food because growing pups have such specific nutritional needs. A good puppy food does more than meet basic nutrition; it also helps with brain health, muscle development, and even good vision. The healthiest puppy foods are full of lean protein sources while leaving out ingredients that dogs are often sensitive to, like corn, soy, and grains.

 

Along with taking care of your pup’s health needs, you can also prepare by helping pets get used to the sights and sounds of moving. Even before you start packing, bring a few boxes into your home. Dogs may feel anxious about the boxes, but most cats love this part! At the same time, try to keep other aspects of their environment consistent until it’s time to move.

 

How to Handle Moving Day

If you’ll be traveling very far, planning should include how to keep your pets safe in the car, plus making arrangements for pet-friendly stops along the way. You may want to use a dog seat belt or crate in the car, but whatever you do, give it a test run to help your pets get comfortable with it before the big trip. When moving day arrives, look to Whiskers to Tails Petsitting, a good friend, or a relative to watch your dog while boxes and furniture are being moved out. Doing this helps reduce your pup’s stress level, plus it’s a good way to avoid the risk of both cats and dogs dashing out the door while movers are working.

 

Getting Comfy in Your New Home

The last part of the process is settling into your new home. Of course, this process will take a few weeks or even months, but you can help your pets settle more quickly with these tips from Pup Jobs. Here are a few of the most important tips to keep in mind:

 

  • First introductions: VCA Hospitals recommends helping your dog get familiar with the new space by letting him sniff and explore, both outside and in. Give plenty of treats, play with him, and show him where his favorite stuff is, including his bed, bowls, and toys.

 

  • Create a sense of normalcy: Maintaining your regular routines will help create the sense that everything is going to be ok. This is especially important in the first few days, so it’s best to be home with your pets as much as possible.

 

  • Shower them with love: On top of everything else, remember that pets will need your love and affection now more than ever. Extra cuddles, walks, and playtime will work wonders in relieving any anxiety they may have.

 

  • Provide room to play: If you’ve recently purchased a home with no fencing, securing your yard with a new fence gives your dog the chance to run around freely, plus you remove the potential stress of your pup running off. The national average to build a fence is $2,800, but prices can vary based on materials and length.

 

As much time as it takes to prepare, careful planning is what makes your move go as smoothly as possible. The same holds true for preparing your dogs and cats for a move. Making these plans to keep them safe and calm will go a long way towards easing the transition for everyone.

If you need a dog walker or a regular pet sitter, turn to the experts at Whiskers to Tails Petsitting to keep your pet happy, engaged and active!

 

Linda Robinson is a contributing author. She can be contacted at info@youdidyourbest.org.