New Year’s Eve; new opportunities, new avenues to explore, at least that is how I viewed it before.  This New Year’s Eve was different.  The fireworks went off as usual, the neighbors shot off roman candles next door, the fire truck went up and down with its siren wailing…all like usual.  The only thing that was different is that the meter reader had left my gate open.  Mercedes, the Black Lab hates fireworks and thunder.  With the gate open, she naturally ran.

Mercedes was gone for two days.  We were told by the Police that she had been seen crossing the Interstate twice.  Numerous trips through neighborhoods were made, calling her name. We talked to people who had seen her.  They couldn’t catch her nor could anyone else.

In my desperation, and in my experience as a pet sitter, I knew that I had to duplicate my actions as many times as I could ….and fast.

Who is everywhere, all the time?  Newspaper delivery and pizza delivery were in the business of being all over the city.  I tearfully made a quick poster of Mercedes with my phone number on it and gave it to every delivery person in the city (which was a quick task considering the size of the town I live in).  The next morning, 6:00 am I got a call from a delivery person that she had my dog in an alley.  We rushed over, found her and put her safely into the car.  All thanks to a delivery person who cared.

Five Tips for finding a lost dog:

  1. Always have your dog wearing a collar and current tags (a microchip isn’t a bad idea either!).
  2. Make a flyer with a good photo of your dog.  Post it everywhere.
  3. Add a pic to a text and send it to everyone you know.
  4. Talk to teachers, groomers, vets and the local shelters
  5. Report your pet missing to your local animal tech at the police department.

Get as many people involved as possible…and you will have a happy ending too.

Marjorie Leon

Fetch Pet Care of the Grand Valley

grandvalley@fetchpetcare.com

Outdoor Pet Safety in Yard and Garden

Now that spring is here, we are all ready to get out of the house and spend more time out of doors with our pets.  Here are some tips for keeping everyone safe and happy.

#1 Pick up the yard.  As the snow begins to melt, sticks, stones and pet waste will all need to be removed from your lawn. With a bag and a small shovel handy, clean the yard of any potential hazards.

#2 Groom properly.  Dogs that shed are getting rid of their winter coat, and unless you start brushing them regularly, your furniture and clothes will become victim to embarrassing dog hair.  It helps to get in a routine with the brushing—such as each night before bed.

#3 Get your Dog in shape.  After months indoors, your dog’s stamina might be lacking, and like many of us, they might have put on a few pounds over the holidays.  Take your dogs on shorter walks or runs to begin—followed by longer and longer ones.  Use the spring to get them in shape for the summer. While I love to walk my dog, I can’t always find time for these daily walks. A pet sitting service such as Fetch! Pet Care is the ideal solution.

#4 Replace your dog’s collar.  Use the change of seasons to get your pet dog a new collar.  Collars should be replaced annually to avoid the possibility of it becoming embedded.  They also collect lots of dirt and grime during the winter months, and they often wear out and get too small.

#5 Use pet-friendly lawn care products. Look for fertilizers and weed killers that are veterinarian approved or EPA certified. It is important to read the ingredients. Avoid products that contain carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, and chloroethane. If you read the manufacturer’s label you should have no problem identifying products which are both pet-safe and effective. Many of the commercial brands of pet-safe weed killers contain ingredients that you can probably find in your kitchen, like vinegar and other friendly kitchen products without added chemicals. Pet-friendly fertilizers are simple manures and scraps without additives.

#6 Avoid certain mulch products.  It is never a good idea for a dog or cat to eat mulching products such as tan bark, cedar or pine.  Most are generally treated with chemicals to retain their color and moisture. Never use cocoa bean mulch in an area where pets are allowed to be unsupervised.  It contains Theobromine, the same component as dark chocolate and can be deadly if consumed in sufficient quantity. Even the best dog will be attracted to it.

#7 Continue Heartworm and Flea and Tick Treatments.  Year round heartworm preventative for dogs is a must.  What some people don’t know is that cats can contract heartworm as well.  Ask your veterinarian if he recommends treating the house cat in your life as well.  Flea and tick products abound.  Follow your vets advice and the package directions for proper application and safety. The key is to administer on a regular basis such as the 1st of each month.  Mark a calendar or set a reminder on your cell phone or computer.

This article was written by Phyllis Durborow, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of North Indy.  Phyllis can be reached at 317-644-1465.  Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet care company in the United States; serving 38 states in more than 2,000 cities and towns.

Grooming your Dog at Home

As winter drags on your furry friend may be getting a little smelly. You’d like to snuggle up, but that doggy smell is just a bit overwhelming.  Time to make a grooming appointment, right?  Not necessarily. While some long haired breeds require a professional groomer, with a few preventative steps, your trips to the doggy spa can be reduced.  A pet sitting company such as Fetch! Pet Care will bathe your dog at home for a small fee.  Your pet dog remains at home and you save money.  Or, you can do it yourself by using the following tips. They can be applied to both long and short haired breeds to help keep your dog clean, good looking and cuddle-ready. 

1)      Shampoo.  Choose a quality shampoo made specifically for dogs.  While it may seem cheaper, never use human shampoo or conditioner on your dog.  Human shampoo is pH balanced for people and too harsh for dogs.

2)      Brushes. Invest in a good deshedding tool.  The most popular is the Furminator  brand.  A slicker brush is also a good investment.  Consider a grooming glove if you have a smooth coated breed. If your dog is long haired, brush him regularly paying special attention to his underside and underarm area where matting tends to happen.  Many groomers charge extra for dematting, not to mention the stress caused by the removal process.  Brushing also helps spread the natural oils, keeping the coat and skin in good shape. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your dog. When bathing your dog at home, you must brush her out completely before her hair has a chance to dry.  This is the best way to avoid matting and greatly reduces shedding.  Consult your groomer or vet for advice on the best brush for your particular breed.

3)      Nail trimmers.  There are a number of good products on the market, some of which will even help you identify where the quick or vein is within the nail. Learning to trim your dog’s nails is probably the number one way to save money, although pet owners are often insecure about this routine task. With light colored nails, you should be able to see the sensitive quick. Darker nails can more tricky, but with practice and regular attention, the job gets easier.  Have a jar of “Kwik Stop” or any styptic product handy just in case you trim too far back.

4)      Tooth Brush. Yes, your dog can use a gentle tooth brushing now and then.  Choose a soft bristle brush or finger brush and dog-specific toothpaste. They come in a variety of pet-pleasing flavors including liver, beef, and poultry. Again, human products are not appropriate and may be harmful to your pet. Even brushing without toothpaste is better than nothing at all. Your friends will thank you.

5)      Water supply.  Decide where you are going to bathe Fido.  Outside is fine so long as the temperatures are comfortable, but make sure your pet dog can’t get away from you.  In the winter, try the shower stall, bathtub with a spray attachment or even the kitchen sink if you have a small breed.

6)      Drying.  Old towels and a hair dryer set on low is all that’s required.  Of course, if the weather is warm, just let Mother Nature do the job! 

Finally, remember that there are pet service providers such as Fetch! Pet Care who will bathe your dog in your home for a small fee. Compared to the time and money invested in a trip to the groomer, the convenience of having someone come to your home is quite a bargain.  Consult your vet or groomer if you have breed specific questions and shop at a reputable pet store such as Petco.

This article was written by Phyllis Durborow, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of North Indy.  Phyllis can be reached at 317-644-1465.  Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet care company in the United States; serving 38 states in more than 2,000 cities and towns.

Taking a Bite Out of the Organic Pet Food Market

In today’s health conscious society, emphasis trends on healthy eating, exercise, and overall wellness as part of one’s daily lifestyle. Every day we make informed decisions about the kind of foods we eat. Thus, the demand for and consumption of organic foods continues to grow.  After all, you are what you eat.  Not surprisingly, pet dogs have taken a bite out of the organic food market as well.  According to the Organic Trade Association, organic pet food sales have been growing at nearly three times the rate of organic human food. 

What is all the bark about?  Just like you, your pet dog’s health depends on the proper blend of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vegetables, essential fatty acids and antioxidants.  In order for food to qualify as organic, certain standards pertaining to how agricultural products are grown and processed must be met.  It includes a system of production, processing, distribution and sales that assures consumers, both human and canine, that food products will maintain the organic integrity that began on the farm.

Organic foods undergo a strict certification process before deemed as “organic.” Inspectors check crops and animals for unnatural alterations that are not environmentally or animal friendly, (hormone injections in cows, antibiotics in chickens). Therefore, organically grown food – being void of chemicals, preservatives, growth hormones, antibiotics, and other unnatural additives & artificial substances – is naturally more flavorful, nutrient-rich, and digestibly soluble.  This allows your pet dog to absorb & retain far more quality nutrients every meal.

Why should I be wagging my tail?  Consider the potential benefits of organic food for you­­r pet dog. Organic foods (and treats!) can make a big difference in your dog’s overall life: 

  1. Optimal Health & Vitality. Chemicals and fillers found in non-organic food tend to make your dog feel sluggish, no different than how you feel when your eating habits wane.  All natural food contains pure, holistic ingredients that aid digestion, and keep your dog’s body systems functioning at their best.
  2. Prolonged Life of Your Pet. Feeding your pet dog an organic diet, which lacks synthetic additives, may prolong your pet’s life and even help eliminate existing health problems.
  3. Health Immunity & Disease Prevention. Conventionally manufactured pet food contains pesticide-laden food products, which do pose the threat of illness such as cancer; food allergies have long been linked to toxins & chemicals used throughout the food industry. The body becomes more resistant to disease when it is nourished with pure, all natural ingredients.
  4. Organic Pet Food Tastes Great! ‘Not for human consumption’, ‘non specific animal source’ and ‘Contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin’ likely tastes as horrible as it sounds.

Overall, foods that are 100% natural are healthier than those with synthetic additives. Therefore, when you buy organic food, you are actually paying for the reassurance and luxury of knowing that the food has been handled with care. Does your dog deserve anything less?  Paws down, your dog is worth it.

This article was written by Lynn Coccodrilli, owner of North Arlington VA and NW Washington DC.  Lynn can be reached at 888.252.7854.  Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet services and pet sitting company in the United States; serving 38 states in more than 2,000 cities and towns.

Diary of a fearful dog, Theodore’s story

My 9 month old pet dog, Theodore is a wimp. He is petrified of the car, hates the trash truck and vacuum cleaner and distrusts anyone or anything new.  His fear of the car means that nine times out of ten, he throws up even on the shortest jaunt.  An empty box left on the floor following the arrival of a package from the Fetch! Pet Care online store is cause for code red alert and high suspicion.  He stretches out his 30 pound body as far as it will go to approach and sniff the demon box without actually touching it. Although barking madly seems like the thing to do, it inevitably fails to ease his concern. He whimpers and whines and avoids the offending object or person. Even the sight of another dog walking by triggers an anxious response from my little man.

My other pet dog is Theodore’s brother, Alvin. He is a dog’s dog.  Nothing bothers him.  He loves to ride in the car and gives the trash truck nothing more than a passing glance.   If a new pet sitter comes to visit, he is ever so happy to make friends.  The empty box is proudly carried about and chewed up into little bits. The dog walking by is a new buddy he hasn’t met yet.

What does this mean when we’re talking about dogs and their fearful behavior?  Don’t feel guilty if this description fits your dog.  It’s not your fault and there is hope.  It would appear that at least some of Theodore’s fear comes from who he is, from how he is put together.  How do we help the fearful dog?

Do we throw him into challenging situations, like enrolling him in a dog daycare? Go for dog walks when the trash truck is rolling by?  Have a big, noisy party and just hope he conquers his fear of strangers by exposure?  Perhaps we take the opposite approach and avoid the things that frighten him. No dog walking on trash day. Stay away from the dog park, stop having people over to visit, and never run the vacuum cleaner (great idea!).

The answer lies somewhere in between.  Ease your pet dog into new situations.  Start by not always being so predictable.  Put on a crazy hat now and then, not to scare your pet dog, but to show him that familiar things can be different, but still safe. Take a different route on your next dog walk. Don’t put him in the car (or force him into any situation), but be patient enough to condition him into accepting it as a part of his world and allow him to approach gradually over a period of days. This is a great lesson for all pet dogs.  Don’t avoid walking on trash day.  Instead, take him out, but start by walking the opposite direction from the truck.  Let him hear it first, then after a week or two, be a little bolder.  Be sensitive to his body language, tail and ears up means he’s enjoying himself.  Tail, head and ears down shows he is not feeling confident.  Be gentle, but not overly sympathetic. Don’t shower him with stroking and “Oh you poor thing” attitude. Let him figure it out for himself and be a consistent, calm presence. With patience, confidence and consistency you can help your anxious pet dog overcome his fears.

This article was written by Phyllis Durborow, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of North Indy.  Phyllis can be reached at 317-644-1465.  Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet services and pet sitting company in the United States; serving 38 states in more than 2,000 cities and towns.

Is Pet Insurance Right For You?

Is pet insurance right for you and your pet dog?  Here is the question….”Can you afford an unexpected thousand bucks of expenses?” If not, and most of us can’t in this economy, then you should consider pet insurance.  The monthly payment may not be very appealing, but just like human health insurance, you’ll be glad you have it when you need it.

Medical care for pets, including tests and treatment options, is becoming more sophisticated and expensive. Some treatments and procedures are now available that were not previously possible. These advances in veterinary medicine mean that pets can live longer, more rewarding lives. However they can be expensive and dog owners need to be prepared for the expense.  Without insurance some pets do not receive the best possible treatment plan, and some may even be euthanized because their owners can’t afford the necessary treatment.  Fortunately, more dog owners are learning that reasonably priced pet insurance is available.

Just like human medical insurance, pet insurance companies charge premiums and there are deductibles for different policy plans. There might also be exclusions for older animals, pre-existing conditions and breed specific problems may be excluded. Be sure to check your policy closely and call the pet insurance company with any questions.  If you choose to go with a pet insurance policy, be sure and let your pet sitting company or anyone who provides pet services to you know about your coverage in case emergency care is needed.

There will come a time as every pet owner knows that their pet will require medical care. With a pet insurance policy, you can have some peace of mind knowing you will have help paying the medical cost for your pet’s emergencies or illnesses. 

Pet insurance coverage is available for dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets. Optional routine pet insurance coverage is also available. This includes vaccines and other routine wellness care. With most insurance providers you are also free to use any licensed veterinarian you want, even away from home.

This article was written by Kimberly Louloudis, owner of Fetch Pet Care of East Orange County and Northeast Orlando .   Kimberly can be reached at 407-545-8196.  Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet care company in the United States; serving 38 states in more than 2,000 cities and towns.

Preventing the Creepy Crawlies-Flea Advice for Your Pet Dog

When we see our pets start scratching we worry that our pets may have fleas. Fleas can cause allergic reactions, skin infections, tape worms infections and discomfort to your pet. There are many ways to prevent fleas and ticks. How do you choose what product is best for your pet and home? Here is a list and brief summary of the flea products on the market.

Advantage is a well known product for flea prevention. It kills fleas within 12 hours and also kills larvae and chewing lice. Advantage lasts for 30days and is available for cats and dogs.  Advantage is also safe to be used on kittens and puppies 6 weeks of age and older. Advantage is waterproof and still effective when using a mild shampoo.  Advantage can be purchased at some veterinarians and through some online suppliers.

Advantix is a flea prevention product that also prevents against ticks, repels biting flies and kills chewing lice. Advantix is a great product for dogs that hunt and spend a lot of time in the woods. Advantix cannot be used on or around cats.  Advantix is also water proof and lasts for 30days.

Frontline also protects against fleas and ticks for 30days and is waterproof. Fleas are killed within 12 hours; this product can also be used on breeding, pregnant and lactating pets. Frontline has an easy applicator and comes in a 3 pack. Although it is usually more expensive than other products it is a very effective product.

Vectra is a new product that will only be sold by veterinarians. It is proven to kill fleas within 6 hours. Vectra also protects against lice, ticks and mosquitoes. Vectra also help prevent fleas from infesting the environment. Vectra has an easy applicator but it does contain more fluid than the other flea preventatives.  Vectra makes a different dog and cat formula.  Vectra is water proof.

Capstar is an oral medication that kills all live fleas within 5 hours. Capstar does not leave any residual medication in the body so there is no long term flea control with Capstar. Capstar is only available from a veterinarian.

Revolution is a flea preventative that does not kill live fleas but keeps them from being able to reproduce. Revolution also prevents against heartworm. Revolution is only available from a veterinarian. 

Most pet stores do sell over the counter flea medication but these flea treatments have been known to cause seizures in some pets and are not as strictly controlled as flea preventatives sold by veterinarians. Doing plenty of research on products sold over the counter at pets store is highly recommended before purchasing.

The flea life cycle is 95% in the environment, not on the pet. The adult flea prefers to live on the pet but all other stages of the life are in the carpet, under the couch and in the bedding.  Flea bombs go up into the air and do not treat the area that fleas actually reproduce in. Sprays from your local pet store are a better route to go to kill the larvae and pupa. You can purchase Borax at the grocery store, sprinkle it on the carpet and vacuum it up. This does help remove and kill all the eggs. After vacuuming be sure to empty the canister or toss the bag into outside garbage.  Fleas can be brought in on your shoes and can infest through the walls in apartments.  Even if your house is very clean, fleas can still come into your home.  Fleas can carry tapeworms. When a pet bites at its skin and ingests a flea the tapeworm then infests the pet and reproduces inside the pet. Tapeworms can cause pets to lose weight, have diarrhea and can be passed on to people.  

Preventing fleas is a lot easier than treating fleas.  Some pets are allergic to the flea saliva and when bit by a flea their skin breaks out into sores and pustules.  When this happens it usually results in the pet possibly needing to be put on antibiotics, steroids and ointments or creams.

When your pet dog or cat is going to use a pet service it is important to treat your pets with a flea preventative.  Pet sitting companies do everything they can to prevent fleas but treating your pet with a preventative is the best way to protect your pet.

This article was written by Deva Samuels, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of West Seattle. Deva can be reached at 206-965-9851. Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet care company in the United States; serving 38 states in more than 2,000 cities and towns.