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.

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.

Keeping Your Pet Fit, Trim and Active in the Winter Months

As winter continues to tighten her grip across the nation, our pet dogs might feel a tightening of the winter sweaters right about now.

This can be a difficult time of year not only for humans but for our pets as well. Whether you’re guilty of giving your pet scraps from the holiday buffet table or just from one too many doggie treats, the fact is 40% of dogs are overweight. According to a Reuter’s article from 2008, this translates to 17 million dogs carrying extra weight.

 Time to call a pet sitting service for your pet’s dog walking needs! 

Dog walking is the most popular service request that pet services get. This is a great way to keep your pet dog fit and trim, consistently active and avoid boredom that can lead to behavioral issues.  It will also relieve the doldrums that come from your pet sitting around all day waiting for you to come home.

In addition to signing on with a pet service for your pet sitting and dog walking needs, you can also make dog treats from scratch; there are terrific recipes online or even pet recipe books, how fun! Or find a pet bakery that specializes in healthy, natural treats for your pet dog.  If you’ve been thinking about changing over to a diet dog food you’ll want to be extra careful. When it comes to their actual pet food you want to be cautious and not change it overnight. It should be a gradual change of mixing the food and then over time you’ll switch over completely. Speak with your vet about these changes and what’s best for your pet dog.

Here’s a handy suggestion for keeping your furry kids happy and healthy…When it comes time to feed my Beagle Daisy instead of using a traditional dog bowl we use a Kong. Every morning and evening we measure her food, pour it into the gadget and for the next ten minutes she rolls it around by her nose and waits for the food to drop out, piece by piece. This way she’s active while she’s eating, it stimulates her brain and she doesn’t inhale a bunch of air from eating way too fast.  Just by measuring her food and using this feeding method she has shed 13lbs.  And, the difference is amazing! She’ll be 10 this year but she has all of the energy of a 3yr old dog. She’s like Benjamin Button.

Still not sold on using a pet service or changing her feeding habits? Not even sure if your pet dog is actually overweight? Try this simple test…Stand over your dog, what do you see? Do you see her sides plump out or does she have more of an hourglass figure?  You want to see the latter; even the slightest bit of visible rib cage is acceptable.

Having a dog as a pet is a great way to stay in shape, be active and relieve stress which can lead to weight gain and boredom.

This article was written by Carolyn Alonzo, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of Chicago Loop-Lincoln Park.  Carolyn can be reached at 312-235-2409.  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



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.