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.


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.

Dog Theft? Not My Dog!

February 5, 2010

Dog Theft? Not My Dog!-Protecting Your Best Friend From Theft

You’ve probably seen this–a yellow lab tied to the lamp post outside your local Starbuck’s or maybe a Pomeranian mix, with his adorable nose near the window crack as you put groceries into your adjacent car. What you were seeing was a dog theft waiting to happen, and your pet dog is at risk too!

The AKC reports that in 2009, dog theft increased by an alarming 30% over the previous year. And these numbers only reflect actual reported cases of dog theft. Countless dogs that go “missing” may in fact be unknown victims of theft.

These reports come from all around the country. In fact, some states’ legislatures are proposing bills that would make dog theft a felony. Many cite the economy and ruthless criminals who sell furry family members to the highest bidder. Many pet dogs are victims of dognappers who prey on the owner’s love and devotion to their dog and to the dog’s status as a family member. Whatever the reason, there are several things you should do to protect your pet dog from this fate. Some may seem obvious, but others may not. The following tips should be shared with family members and also with your pet sitter.

So, your pet dog is safe within your fenced yard. He can’t wander off and isn’t vulnerable, or so you think. Actually, pet dogs left unattended in yards are an easy mark for would-be thieves. Don’t leave your dog unattended in your yard, especially if your yard is visible from the street.

Regardless of your pet dog’s obedience level, don’t let him off leash. Keep him close so he doesn’t wander off and catch the attention of thieves.

Be cautious with strangers who admire your pet dog and approach as you are walking her. Don’t answer queries about the price you paid for your dog and don’t divulge your address.

We all know it’s dangerous to leave our pet dog alone in a parked car for health reasons. But regardless of the temperature, and even if your car is locked, you are putting him at added danger of kidnapping or theft. It only takes that 5 minutes while you run into the dry cleaners, for an accomplished thief to break in and scoop up your beloved pet dog. Additionally, a thief who may break into your car only for other valuables, such your laptop or GPS system will allow your pup to get lose and run away.

Before taking your pup along with you, make sure you will be in situations where she can be with you at all times and make sure your pet sitter does the same. Choose pet-friendly stores and situations or leave her home where she is safe.

It’s also important to make sure that any pet services you use are reputable and are insured and bonded and make sure they practice the same rules for dog protection as you.

Some protection methods are really recovery methods, but ultimately the goal is protecting your pet dog from further danger. Protect your pet dog with microchip identification. If you suspect your dog was stolen, alert your microchip recovery service provider, animal control officers and local veterinarians. Report the theft to the police and make noise in your neighborhood about your pet dog’s disappearance with flyers and phone calls, And do it quickly, before the thief takes him too far away.

There is another way we can all help put a stop to this heinous crime. Don’t buy dogs from the internet, flea markets, or roadside vans. There is no way to know where these poor pups came from and they may very well be stolen. Newspaper ads that offer dogs with re-homing fees are also suspect. Loving dog owners who have to give up their pet dogs will seek good homes without re-homing fees! If you are seeking a pet dog, go to a reputable rescue group or breeder.

For most of us, our pet dog is in many respects, like one of our children. He is beloved, irreplaceable, innocent and vulnerable. He requires the same diligent care that a young child does. It’s up to us to protect him in every way we can.

This article was written by Deborah Hughes, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of Greater Wayne–East Morris.   Deborah can be reached at 973-718-7075.  Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet care company in the United States, serving 38 states and more than 2,000 cities and towns.



What to Do if You Lose Your Pet:  Pet Recovery Strategy

Losing your pet dog or cat is a tremendous fear shared by every pet owner.  When a beloved pet dog or cat goes missing, emotions can run high amidst an extremely traumatic experience.  Would you know what to do if your pet went missing?

Whether you are a pet owner yourself, provider of pet services, or pet sitting for your friend or neighbor, you should have a plan of action ready because you will need to act quickly. Take time now to print and save this pet recovery strategy:

1) Start Your Coordinated Search Immediately. The second you learn your dog or cat is missing start your search. Your pet will be overwhelmed, too, and can travel far in short time. Interrupt your schedule. Every second counts. This is a dog or cat emergency!

2) Identify People Who Can Help You Find Your Pet.  Who do you ask? Everyone you know and people you run into on the street.  Reach out to family, friends, neighbors, veterinarian personnel, church members, local schools, restaurants, small businesses, fire departments, police stations, grocery stores, gas stations, and area schools, pet sitting businesses & providers of pet services. Consider a national non-profit like Missing Pet Partnership that specializes in lost dog search & rescue.

3) File a Lost Pet Report.  Each state and county is different. Look up your state & county requirements today. If your pet has a Home Again microchip, place an immediate call to them at 1-888-466-3242 and they will notify vet clinics, animal shelters, and pet rescuers within a 25-mile radius of where your dog or cat was lost.  Broaden your reach by utilizing a service such as www.amberpetalert.com that will issue a lost dog or cat alert to area resources up to 100 miles out for a nominal fee.

4) Notify Community Resources About Your Lost Pet.  Reach out to and connect with local animal shelters, animal control, police stations, media outlets, pet sitting businesses & providers of pet services, veterinarians, groomers, trainers, pet stores, dog parks and neighborhood list serves within a 5 to 60 mile radius of where your dog or cat was last seen. Do you have this information handy?  Proactively prepare this list of resources now so you can be prepared should you, a family member, friend or your pet sitter, need it.

5) Advertise Using Lost Pet Posters & Flyers. Put posters up throughout your immediate neighborhood, in community gathering-places, and along roads in high-traffic areas within 5 miles minimum and up to 60 miles beyond. Click here to use this lost pet flyer template. Include a reward (optional but recommended), how to reach you when your dog or cat is found, and current picture of your pet, pet’s sex, age, weight, breed, color and any special markings. For security purposes, use caution when posting your personal information & meeting prospective finders of your pet. Meet in a public place and in the company of another if possible. When describing your pet leave out one identifying characteristic and ask the person who finds your pet to describe it to confirm the finder is authentic.

6) Utilize Social Networking Sites.  Post your lost dog or cat announcement on Facebook, Twitter & Craigslist. Ask your friends to cross-post and Tweet about your lost pet.  Create a Blog or Google Site so you can post up to the minute search & rescue information, making it available to search groups and the public.

7) Stay Positive & Do Not Give Up Hope or Your Search.  Your dog or cat wants to be found just as much as you want to find your pet.  Communicate with your resources.  Retrace all steps.  Repeat all processes.  Follow-up with animal shelters several times a day.  Drive and walk your expanded neighborhood by day and by night, calling out your pet’s name. Your pet dog or cat just may be right around that next corner!

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

New Year Resolutions For You and Your Dog?

It is around this time of year each of us begins to think about what our New Year Resolutions will be.  Many of us “resolve” to work on our health and fitness.  Our plan may be to begin a healthy diet, or a daily exercise program to tone up and lose those unwanted extras we carry with us.  Unfortunately, after January many of us lose interest or forget our resolutions.  If you had a best friend working with you on your goals, would you be more likely to stick with them?  Of course you would.  Have you considered the health and fitness of your pet dog?  Who is a better friend than your loyal, loving and dedicated pet dog?  Maybe this year you should consider bringing your furry companion(s) into the picture.  He or she most likely needs the exercise and would love to be by your side as you strive to get and stay in shape. 

Just like humans, dogs need both physical and mental exercise to keep their mind and body in top condition.  Exercise helps with overall health and obesity as well as behavioral issues.  Some people believe that just because they let their furry friends out in the yard for a few hours of play the need for exercise is filled, when in actuality they are more likely to rest in the shade until their “people” come out and play with them.   When daily activity and exercise is absent it can lead to obesity, poor muscle tone and many other ailments like heart, breathing and kidney problems, just like humans.

Also, just like humans, use caution when starting an exercise program with your pet.  You should schedule a visit with your veterinarian to determine the current condition of your companion before you set up your program and goals.   If you jump right into vigorous activity it is likely both you and your pet dog will begin to use muscles you both forgot you had.  You and your veterinarian can set up a program that won’t stress your pet’s heart or lungs or cause muscle strain or pain.  It’s good to start slow and not over do it.  Also, it is important to remember your dog’s body doesn’t have a cooling system like you do, so be sure you not let your dog become overheated.  As is the case with most programs, moderation is the key to beginning a successful program. 

I once read that a “walk” to a dog is similar to a trip to an amusement park for humans.  During the walk each new sound and smell will perk up your dog’s senses and help keep his mind alert.  If the situation permits, allow your dog to sniff around in the weeds or jump up on a log.  Let him get his nose full of new scents to consider and investigate.  Let him carry his favorite bone or toy with him.  Hide from him and let him search for you.  If you run across other friendly dogs, let them visit with one another.  Dogs use body language when they meet and greet, all of which is stimulating to both the mind and body.  Besides, everyone could use a new friend.

What if your schedule is too hectic to stick to a daily program!  Many of us have hectic schedules that don’t allow us to be available for a daily program with our pet.  There are reputable companies that provide professional pet services and pet sitting.  Some of them provide daily dog walks and fitness programs designed to help keep your pet dog healthy and fit both physically and mentally.  Check in your area for a reputable pet services or pet sitting company to help you keep your furry loved one in tip top shape when it is not possible for you to be there.  I might be biased, but I would recommend Fetch! Pet Care.  Now get out there and set a new year’s resolution, and don’t forget to include your furry friend. 

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.