5 Reasons Your Cat Needs Daily Pet Sitting Visits

Cats are often described as aloof, self-sufficient, and independent, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see a masterpiece with complex emotions and sensitive body systems.  Our feline friends may live life on their own terms, so it can come as a surprise to potential clients when we decline requests to visit cats less than once per day.  Here are the top 5 reasons why we need to see your cat every day:

#1  Health Concerns.

Cats are notorious for health problems that escalate quickly.  For example, urinary blockages can happen without warning.  This is an extremely painful condition and can lead to kidney failure and death in as little as 24 hours.  Monitoring your cat’s health is a top priority, and you can bet we’re watching eating, drinking, and litter box habits with an eagle eye.  Anything less than daily visits can be dangerous for your cat!

#2  Kitten Around.

Cats’ mischievous personalities may be endearing, but it can get them into heaps of trouble if left to their own devices.  We’ve heard stories of cats crawling into vents, getting tangled in cords/wires, turning on stove knobs, and knocking over table lamps.  Recently, a well-known television personality suffered major flood damage to 3 levels of his home while away for several days and his cat turned on a faucet!  Cats are curious little creatures, and you’d be surprised the things they get into; just ask a pet sitter!

#3  Forces of Nature.

Weather brings all kinds of challenges.  Power outages and utility failures pose a huge risk to your pets, and your home.  Wisconsin winters are brutal, and if a furnace goes out, it doesn’t take long for pipes to start freezing.  Heat poses another set of challenges, as homes can quickly reach unsafe temperatures for pets should an air conditioner malfunction.  Best to have a professional sitter stop by every day; we not only care for your pets, but also look after your home while you are away.

#4  Accidents Happen.

Imagine this: you’ve made your reservations with your pet sitter, your bags are packed, and you’re on your way to a much needed vacation.  While you were packing, Fluffy sneaked into the closet and accidentally got locked in.  This scenario happens more often than you might think.  Had the pet sitting service not insisted on daily visits, Fluffy could have been stuck in the closet with no water, no food, and no litter box for days!  Daily visits from your professional pet sitter would save you AND Fluffy from this kind of stress.

#5  Cats Just Wanna’ Have Fun.

Contrary to popular belief, cats are social creatures.  They thrive on human companionship, even if it doesn’t take the form of physical touch.  Each cat is an individual and has different preferences, habits, and personalities.  Cats also instinctively hide pain, and their subtle nature can make it difficult to detect changes.  However, if we’ve gotten to know Fluffy’s unique habits through frequent visits, we immediately notice when something isn’t quite right.  That can mean the difference between a manageable problem and a dangerous situation. 


At the end of the day, your professional pet sitter wants the very best for your pets, and that is why a good pet sitter will decline every-other-day visits for your cat.  It also saves OUR sanity knowing all is well with your feline friends and your home.  Did you know your neighbor down the street books daily cat visits, and another a few streets over has us visit their cats TWICE each day?  We love delivering top notch service to our clients and providing you with what money can’t buy- peace of mind.      

The Benefits of Walking Your Dog

The benefits of daily walks for your dog are endless. Obviously, walks promote the overall health of your dog. Walks for puppies may be a form of training, while walks for an older dog will help to increase vitality. We see many benefits of walking in our daily walk clients, but one of the best is seeing the smile on their faces when we head out to explore!

Starting regularly scheduled walks as soon as your young pup’s immune system is strong enough, or as soon as your rescue if fully immunized is crucial for building confidence. Dogs want to explore new and exciting surroundings to learn about their environment. Exposing dogs to all of the different things they encounter on a walk stimulates them mentally, while the physical exercise helps to release any pent-up energy and keeps their weight in check. The combination of a healthy mind and body creates a well-balanced pet.

Dogs don’t generally get enough exercise on their own to be beneficial. Sure, they can run around the yard or go on their 10-minute potty walk before you leave for work, but that doesn’t cut it! Your pup wants to be on the go! He carries the traits of his breed that drive him to want to move and be active! Being home alone all day can be hard for them and promote unwanted behaviors, mischief, and even health problems that could shorten their life. Regularly scheduled walks will solve these problems by giving your dog the exercise and sensory stimulation he needs. Dogs experience things by using their sense of smell, sight, and sound. As you can imagine, hanging out on the couch all day does nothing to arouse these senses.

Time is at a premium and loving pet parents often feel guilty about the fact that their dogs may not get all the attention they need, much less walks! When there is no time left in the day – walking Fido becomes a chore! Well, here is what I say to that:



Let someone else do it for you!

The DOG Nanny Group specializes in midday dog walks in Marinette and Peshtigo, Wisconsin and Menominee Michigan, for pet parents working long hours. Stop spending your lunch break stressed out, running home to let the dog outside. Need to hit the grocery store after work? Not a problem if The DOG Nanny has walked Fido midday! Signing up for midday dog walks will give you the peace of mind that your dog is happy and comfortable at home while you’re away.

Our pets depend on us for food, shelter, and exercise; their overall quality of life. We owe it to them to provide the best we can. Join The DOG Nanny Family today and let us walk your dog. You’ll both feel better you did!

Click on the link below to register for dog walks and other DOG Nanny services. 



Behind the scenes at The DOG Nanny Group.


Did you ever wonder what happens after you request service from your Professional Pet Sitter?  I don’t think most folks have ever considered it.  You book, and we show up – right?  Actually, there’s a little more to it than that with any professional pet sitter.  Here, at The DOG Nanny Group, we believe it’s those tiny details before and during the reservation that set us apart.

Before your visits begin…  Assuming we have received your reservation 11 or more days in advance of the start date, your reservation will be on the first run of our schedule.  This schedule is sent to sitters every Thursday, and covers the following Sunday-Sunday.  Once the schedule is written, all visits for the week are assigned a sitter in our software system, Pet Sitter Plus (PSP).  The billing is done for vacation clients we will be visiting that week, and then comes the paperwork.

We pull our Client Care Sheet for your pet.  Remember the consult we did last month, or maybe 7-years ago?  All that information about your home, feeding, medications, the likes and dislikes of your pet, etc. are all on an easy to follow sheet for our sitters.  We make any necessary updates to that sheet, and also print a report card and a log sheet.  The log sheet is used to document what went on during every visit with your pet.  Did your pet eat – if so – how much?  Did we refresh water?  What did your pet do for potties? Did we have play time or a walk? Anything unusual in the house?  What lights were turned on/off, and so on.  Anything that happens during our visits is recorded on this internal paperwork.  The log sheet is also used to remind sitters of important things that need to happen during their visit.  Those updates you receive?  We manually write on the log sheet when we would like one sent.  Is your pet on medication?  Not only is it documented on your personalized Client Care Sheet, but We manually write on the log “give Rex pills in pink pill keeper” under the corresponding visit.  Our way of making sure all the bases are covered.

Once paperwork is done for all the vacation reservations of the week, we pull keys.  Based on the log sheet, we can see who the first sitter is at each reservation and we make a plan to deliver the paperwork and key to each sitter who has a ‘first visit’ prior to the start of care.

Now we’re done, right?  Not exactly.  Now the late reservations start coming in – one on Friday, another on Saturday, a couple on Sunday, and more Monday and Tuesday.  The process begins again, but first, we must see if we have sitters available to take on the added visits.  The schedule for the week is already out, and sitters have started making plans for their time off so it’s a bit trickier than if these reservations were on the first run of the schedule.  Don’t get me wrong – we LOVE our addons – we just wish they had come in a few days earlier.  OK, so we determine we have sitter availability, we make the changes on the schedule, and then send an updated schedule to sitters.  During weeks with a number of addons – sometimes sitters will receive 2-3 updates from the original schedule.  This is where it is imperative that sitters be on the same page and using the very latest schedule update!!  Then the process begins again…  Assign sitters in PSP, pull all paperwork, fill out the log with sitter names and any important tasks that need to happen at certain visits.  Pull keys, and take paperwork to sitters.

Now that everyone knows their schedule, first visit sitters have paperwork and keys, and reservations begin later today or tomorrow, we’re good to go, right?  Not always.  This is when clients often call with changes.  Leaving earlier or later than expected?  OK – no problem – except for the sitter who was supposed to start with Rex today at noon, is not the same sitter who is to visit at supper.  We need to get that paperwork and key back from the original sitter, and get it to the sitter who now has first visit at supper.  NOW we must be all set.  NOPE!  We hear from clients who have care instruction changes.  Different routine, different medication, etc.  OK – no problem – except I can no longer make these changes because the paperwork has been out of my hands for days.  Of course, if it is major changes, we figure out a way.  Small changes, I notify the sitter who has the paperwork and ask them to write the changes on our sheets.

All of this prep work is where Professional Pet Sitters differ from hobby sitters, your friend, a neighbor, or the kid down the street.  Even Dog Vacay and Rover sitters aren’t going to go to these lengths to ensure your pets are cared for with such attention to detail.

Ok – so the work is done, right?  No way!  The real work hasn’t begun until we see your sweet pets!  During our visits, we have sort of a formula that we use combined with your pet’s normal routine.  A morning dog visit may look like this: potty, breakfast, give medication, change water, wash pet bowls, check the house, change lighting, lift shades/blinds, sit on the floor for snuggles and rubs, play toys, or maybe a quick walk and of course a good-bye treat.  We do whatever ‘chores’ need to be done, and spend the rest of the visit engaging your pet and giving them love so they get the people time they crave.

At some homes, pets are all business and like their routine.  At others, we figure out what the pet needs to be happy and then that becomes the routine.  For example – you have a fussy eater – no problem!  We have sat in your breakfast chair because that’s where you are when Sasha eats and that makes her happy.  We have sung songs or played the airplane game to get Max to eat.  When Abe quits eating, we know to spoon his food back into the middle of his dish so he will finish.  And we know that Molly likes us to feed her her kibble one piece at a time while sitting with her in her special chair.  (Molly is a larger breed girl and it is quite a sight to see).

Have you ever called to tell us you’re coming home early and will arrive in 30minutes?  You have never seen us move so quickly!  We don’t want you coming home to “command central”.  Our goal is for you to never even know we were in your home except to see your completed report card.  It does happen that plans change, but we appreciate as much notice as possible – hours in advance – or even better visits in advance.  This extra time allows us to pick up all our internal paperwork and any other supplies we have at your home.  Sometimes we bring pill keepers to organize medications, special collars, harnesses, muck boots etc.  Of course, it is never a problem when you arrive home unexpected, we’re just embarrassed that you have to see all our “jazz” spread out on the counter, and that we haven’t finished our job without completing your report card sharing the highlights, and reminding you to contact us when you get home.  And remember, our job does not end until we hear from you.

So, that’s what happens when our clients request service.  In the coming months, we will be entering some of that care information into PSP so that paperwork does not have to travel from my hands to the sitters.  The only thing that will have to be distributed is the key.  Of course, clients who have coded locks, or liked our suggestion of a permanently affixed lock box, do not require a key transfer so that also saves a step.

Thanks for coming along on the journey of a day in the life of a professional pet sitter.  We chose this profession and your pets are our top priority.  I recently saw a facebook post from a hobby sitter.  It may have been someone sitting through Dog Vacay or Rover, and it was not a child – it was an adult.  They were alerting their neighborhood that they would be pet sitting a Chihuahua named Cinnamon for the week.  They wanted everyone to know, just in case they lost her.  Like us, they were planning ahead too – just for a very different outcome.  I wonder how Cinnamon’s parents would feel about that?







Keep Pets Safe This Thanksgiving

Chihuahua wants pumpkin pie

Thanksgiving is a time when we gather with loved ones to give thanks and celebrate with a holiday feast.  Many pet parents include Fluffy & Fido in the gathering.  These lucky cats and dogs will be extra thankful this year if their people follow some simple Thanksgiving pet safety guidelines!

  1. Can dogs eat turkey for Thanksgiving?

    Often times the food we eat is not safe for our four-legged friends.  A bit of well cooked (never raw!) turkey may be ok, but forego the fatty skin and greasy drippings from the pan.  These items are high in fat and can cause tummy upset in our pets.  Common results would be vomiting and diarrhea.  In severe cases they can cause Pancreatitis.

  2. NEVER give your pet poultry bones.

    Cooked bones splinter easily and can become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines.  They’re also a choke hazard!

  3. Careful your pets don’t get any raw bread dough.

    The yeast in the dough will convert sugars to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.  This can quickly become a life threatening emergency!

  4. Consuming chocolate is not safe for your pets!

    Candy on the coffee table, in a handbag on the floor, or dropped by a child can put your pet at risk.  2oz of chocolate can be fatal to a 20-pound dog.  Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, increased body temperature, muscle rigidity, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures.  Advanced signs include cardiac failure, and coma.  Seek Veterinary care for your pet immediately if you suspect they have eaten chocolate.

  5. Xylitol is harmful to pets.

    That purse on the floor may also be holding gum, mints, candies, or human dental hygiene products, which often contain   Xylitol.   This sugar substitute is becoming more common in our foods, and can be deadly for our pets.  It is estimated to be 100 times more toxic than chocolate to dogs!  With some brands of gum, as few as 9 pieces can result in liver failure to a 45 pound dog.  Symptoms of Xylitol toxicity will begin within 15-30 minutes of consumption, and can include vomiting, weakness, in-coordination/walking like drunk, lethargy, tremors, seizures, and coma.  Seek Veterinary care immediately!

  6. Keep your pets out of the trash.

    Wrappings that food comes in and the turkey carcass can be too tempting for even a well-trained dog, and both can pose a deadly hazard to cats and dogs!  Remove the trash immediately after your meal to ensure the safety of your pets.

  7. Keep pets safe indoors during holiday gatherings.

    Guests may not be aware that pets will take any opportunity to sneak outside. Some pets are very shy or anxious around new people or crowds.  For their own protection, it may be best for some dogs and cats to be contained to a safe place in the house while guests come and go.   Make sure your pets are micro-chipped and wearing ID tags – just in case!

  8. Quick action can save lives!

    According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, if you believe your pet has eaten something dangerous, or if you can see your pet is in distress, call your Veterinarian immediately.  ASPCA Poison Control Hotline may also be of help 888-426-4435.

  9. If your holiday includes travel, make plans for your pet well in advance.

    Hiring a professional pet sitter to visit your pets at home minimizes exposure to illness, and reduces stress (yours and theirs).  Pets are much more comfortable in their own familiar surroundings, and you don’t have to worry about drop off and pick up times.  A Professional Pet Sitter will care for your pets and your home, and send updates and photos on how your pets are enjoying their ‘stay-cation’.  Professional Pet Sitters offer that piece of mind you need during hectic holiday travel.


Help for Stressed and Fearful Dogs

Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds – maybe thousands of dogs.  They come in all shapes,  sizes, and personality types.  Some don’t like when their people go away (separation anxiety).  Some don’t like changes in weather.  Some don’t like to ride in the car, and others don’t enjoy meeting new people.  I have come across all of these dogs – in fact – they live in my house!  Sadie is the shy one peeking out from behind her Daddy’s legs – this speaks volumes!  She is our original fearful girl.

2014_10_11Jody-0014 cropView More: http://digitaldesignsbyamanda.pass.us/20141011jodyShe doesn’t like new situations, thunderstorms, or the car.  The older she gets, she is even more sensitive to sound – like the wind.

Nemo is Sadie’s exact opposite.  He is super social, loves everyone and everything – especially if there is food involved.  While he has become more sensitive to things in his golden years (he will be 13 this month!), his big issue was separation anxiety when we first brought him home at 2 years old.  We video taped him one day and the poor kid screamed the whole time we were at work.  I don’t know if it was harder on him, fussing all day, or Sadie who had to listen to him.

Our Beautiful Boy, Bubba

Then we have our big beautiful Hound Buster.  He came to live with us from the shelter when he was about 3 years old.  He hated meeting new people (we were his third home that we know of), he got sick riding in the car, and he liked to pick fights with poor Nemo.  Besides my kids, as a pet sitter, I have met many other dogs who have anxiety surrounding different things.  It might be the weather, the fact that their family is away, or something in their environment that they react to – like loud noises (garbage truck, thunder, fireworks).  If your pet is easily stressed or fearful, know that there is help!  Below is a review of some of my favorite natural remedies to calm your pooch.

You have probably heard of the Thundershirt.  They do  work well for some dogs.  They work the same way a compression vest is used to help people.  It is important to use them properly, otherwise the shirt becomes a stressor for your pet.  When introducing the thundershirt, you need to put it on your pet when they don’t “need” it.  Try it out when you are at home on a nice day, when your pet is happy.  When they are calm and relaxing in the shirt – reinforce that mood and behavior with a treat.  Do that often, until they get excited when they see the shirt because they know they will get praise and a treat for wearing it.  Then, when you need it because a storm is on the way – get out the shirt and use it.  The big mistake people make is only using the shirt when it is storming and never going through that first part of introducing the shirt when there is no reason to be stressed.  What happens is, the pet is getting anxious because of the storm, they see you with the shirt, they know the last time they saw that shirt there was a lot of thunder and lightning, so the shirt just brings on more anxiety.  I will add that Thundershirts are not just for thunderstorms.  They can be used to keep your pet calm during any stressful situation like a car ride, or going to the Vet.  They even make them for cats!

ADAPTIL (also known as DAP) stands for dog appeasing pheromone.  It is the same pheromone the mother dog emits when nursing her pups.  Dogs find it very calming and soothing, and it does wonders for separation anxiety.  There are a variety of ways to use this product – there is an electric plug-in diffuser (like a glade plug-in), a spray, wipes, and a collar.  My favorite is the diffuser – you simply plug it in and change the refill every 4-5 weeks.  Groomers, Vets, and Shelters often use the plug-in to diffuse the pheromone into the atmosphere.  It is completely odorless – you won’t sense it at all, but your dog will!  The plug-in can be used for many different types of anxiety, including when there are changes around the house, like a change in schedule, different people, different pets, or the loss of a pet or person in the household.  The plug-in can take up to 30-days to work, so if you think it’s something you’d like to try, get it going right away!  If using the wipes or the spray – be sure to follow the directions closely.  They are never to be sprayed or wiped directly on your pet.  They are to be used on bedding, in kennels, sprayed in the car etc.  Your pet should not have contact with the treated surface until dry.  The best thing is – the electric diffuser can be used in conjunction with the spray and wipes for added results!

Rescue Remedy is also commonly used at Vets and groomers.  Maybe you have heard of Bach flower essences??  They work on the same principal as herbal remedies and/or essential oils.  There is one made specifically for dogs that is called Rescue Remedy (get the one with the paws on the label – the other Rescue Remedy is for people).  It is more of an immediate acting, but shorter term solution to anxiety and stress.  My kids each get a dose when we leave the house for the Vet.  I put 4-drops on a treat and they eat it up.  One cool thing I have found about this (and a cool thing about dogs I suppose) is that my Sadie will actually take a treat with the Rescue Remedy on it.  Normally, when she is reacting to an environmental stressor, she is sort of out of it, and definitely won’t eat.  She will however, take a treat with Rescue Remedy – almost like she knows it will help.

There is another spray I have used called Safety Zone.  It is a natural herbal calming spray for dogs and puppies.  It can be used on bedding, in crates, in cars, and any place your pet goes.  Again, it is never to be sprayed directly on your pet – but in their environment.

There are a few other things we do for our client pets who are sometimes fearful when their people are away.  Even though these pets are in their own homes – sometimes it helps to have the scent of their person in their bed or in their favorite spot on the sofa.  This is easily done through a piece of clothing.  We ask clients to sleep in a T-shirt before they go, or even put a towel, or small blanket between the sheets when they sleep.  Leave this (unlaundered) in the pets crate, or bed.  It acts as a security blanket and comforts them while their family is gone – and – it’s free!

We often put on a TV or radio for pets when they seem lonely.  The noise is a distraction for them, they seem to find the sound of voices comforting, and it makes them feel like someone is there with them.  The noise from radio and TV comes in really handy to drown out the sound of thunder or fireworks in sound/noise reactive pets!

I have had success with each of the methods above.  I prefer the natural route to drugs, and you can’t beat a couple of the suggestions because they are FREE!  Another natural alternative (and maybe the best) is training.  Pets can learn to be calm when in and around situations they find stressful.  Once they have mastered it – you may not need to use any additional methods.  There is some debate that while drugs may make your pet seem calm on the outside, on the inside they are still frightened because the cause of their fear is not being addressed.  That said – I have met pets who do not respond to anything other than medication.  Without it – they would hurt themselves.



Disaster Preparedness: If you fail to plan – you have planned to fail!

There are many ways disaster can strike: Flood, Fire, Hurricane, Tornado, Hazardous Material Spill, and even Terrorist Attack. Each more prevalent in some areas of the country than others. How likely are we to have to evacuate? I can tell you from personal experience, a few years ago I had my car packed, sitting in the drive, and I was ready to leave my home – WITH MY PETS.

Our pets are like toddlers – they are entirely dependent upon us – especially in times of emergency. Tens of thousands of animals either became separated from their families, or died during Hurricane Katrina because they were not evacuated with their people. Never leave your pets behind! We have seen countless times on the news where people were evacuated and told they would be able to return to their homes in hours, and those hours turned into days! Pets were home alone, without food or water, and in terrible danger. If a situation is not safe for you – it is not safe for your pets!

Did you know most shelters – including Red Cross Shelters do not allow pets? 68% of homes in the United States have pets – and nowhere to go with them in a crisis!

We must make our own plan for evacuation with our animals.

  • Do you have enough carriers for all pets in your home?
  • Do your pets have ID tags with your phone number clearly readable in case you’re separated, o a pet escapes?
  • Do you have a current photo of each pet (with you) for identification and proof of ownership of each of your pets?
  • In case of evacuation, does each member of your family know where to meet?
  • Do you have emergency supplies in your car – for you and your pet?
  • Do you keep sufficient fuel in your car, and emergency cash on hand?
  • Who will evacuate your pet if you are not home? Does a neighbor know to save your pets?
  • What if first responders arrive at your house and you are not there. Will they know to save your pets?

Without going to extreme measures, there are some very simple things you can do…

  • Put a Pet Alert Sticker on your door! List number and type of pets, your contact information, and an alternate contact – neighbor, or pet sitter.
  • Keep emergency pet supplies together: Collars with tags, leashes, a ration of food, fresh water, and dishes. Be sure any medications are easily accessible.
  • Have a first aid kit ready containing items for human and pet emergencies.
  • Carry a card in your wallet alerting police or EMTs that you have pets at home in the event you are incapacitated. (I carry one saying I am a pet sitter and that YOUR pets may be in my care. My card lists an emergency contact so that one of my staff is alerted to take over the care of your kids)
  • Know rescue breathing, CPR, and basic emergency care techniques for your pets until they can be seen by a professional. It could be the difference between life and death for your animals.
  • NEVER evacuate your home and leave your pet home alone in a crate. It leaves them completely helpless.

The day we were ready to evacuate.

I don’t remember exactly how long ago this was – most likely 2010 or 2011. The ground was burning in Peshtigo. The fire was just East of Schacht Rd., between Highway 41 and Highway 64. I returned from my mid-day visits that day and stood on my deck wondering if Ansul had some sort of fire training going on. I didn’t give it a lot of thought until a neighbor told me it was a wildfire. I left my house for afternoon visits feeling confident the fire was contained. When I arrived home, my yard (and roof) was littered with ash and embers from the fire. I immediately contacted emergency services for an update on the fire. They were completely unaware that homes on my street were being affected. Shortly after, there were news crews, fire trucks, and emergency personnel trying to figure out if they could get to the fire from the back of our properties. It was then that I realized things could go very badly, very quickly. I packed food and water for my kids, grabbed portable bowls, had my dogs inside (easy to round-up), and leashes at the ready. Emergency first aid kits for people and pets were already in my car. I packed a couple of days’ worth of clothes for myself and my husband, while he was outside setting up sprinklers around our chicken coop, and releasing the chickens so they would stand a chance if the worst did come. The last things that I packed into my car were all client files, keys, and laptop so my business didn’t come to a screeching halt! One neighbor was evacuated that day because of poor health, but the rest of us were lucky. The fire was contained enough that it never reached our property lines, and we did not have to leave our homes.

While we were not prepared for such an event as far as having an actual plan, we were able to react quickly enough that our family – including our three dogs – would have been safe. A plan would have had all these evacuation items together in one place so that we would be prepared to go in 5 minutes instead of 30.

If you don’t have a plan, think about it. What would you do in an emergency? Would you be able to save your pets? Where would you go? Knowing the answer to these questions now, could pay off in a big way later! Check out the links below to help you formulate your plan!







Pets and Fireworks Do Not Mix!

The 4th of July is a time to celebrate with family!  Well, most of the family…  Please do not include your pets in the festivities.

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Many folks can’t celebrate the 4th without shooting off a few fireworks.  You may have a no fireworks rule, but trust me, you neighbors probably do not.  Pets are best kept safe, indoors, away from the festivities.  There are many hazards on the 4th – food that may be unattended, hot grills, open fire pits, kids with glow sticks that are not appropriate for pets, very warm temperatures, and of course fireworks.

To prevent tummy upset in your pet, it is best to keep them to their normal diet.  They really don’t need the chips, pasta salads, and hot dogs typically served on the 4th.  Corn on the cob can be particularly problematic for our pets, so stick with the kibble and their normal treats to keep the furry ones healthy!

Fireworks are not just a problem when the large displays are being set off, those loud booming noises coming from the neighbor’s house all day is terrifying to most pets.  Pets are best kept inside the house on the 4th.  If left in a yard, when a pet becomes frightened, they may try to run to get away.  It is common for dogs to tunnel under, or go right over fences in order to find a safe place to hide.  Thousands of pets go missing on the 4th every year – keep your pets inside, and know what their safe place is in the house.  It may be a kennel, a closet, or a bathroom.  Many pets find laying behind the toilet soothing, as it is a cool place for them when they are stressed.  I once left my bedroom door closed, not realizing my dogs considered my bedroom their ‘safety zone’.  When I came home that day, I really couldn’t process what I was seeing.  There was a pile of rubble at the end of the hallway – like a bomb went off.  It looked like a pile of toothpicks!  As I went closer, I realized that my dogs had eaten through my bedroom door to get away from what was scaring them – and to get into their safety zone.  I felt just awful, and was horribly worried about the damage they caused to themselves scratching and eating their way through that door.  Don’t let this happen to you – or your pet!    If there are measures you take during thunderstorms, do the same on the 4th.  Many folks use essential oils, a Thunder Shirt, Pet Rescue Remedy, or DAP to help soothe anxiety.  With our clients, we try to keep windows and doors closed, and put on a TV or radio to block out the noises coming from outside.  That noise barrier goes a long way in keeping the pets in our care calm on the 4th.

It is best to keep the kids inside so they don’t bolt and get lost.  If you have them with you outside, make sure they have ID tags and/or a microchip.  Please do not attend a fireworks display with your pet.  They will not enjoy the crowds or the fireworks, and could easily end up getting lost.  Whatever you do – do not leave your pet in the car!  Pets easily overheat in parked cars even on days you may feel are safe.  It can spell disaster for your pet – even death.

If your pet is around fireworks, please take care to keep them out of harms way.  Fireworks like sparklers or those that swirl around on the ground can cause your pet to chase them.  Once caught, your pet can suffer the same injuries that people do.  Live fireworks will burn your pet, they can cause severe trauma to the paws and mouth, and eye injuries resulting in blindness.  Fireworks are also toxic.  Some contain arsenic, and heavy metals that can kill your pet if ingested.

Save yourself an emergency trip to the Vet, and take extra care with your pet this week!  We love your fur kids too, and we want them to be happy and safe!

Thank you to mypetmd.com, and the ASPCA for some of the tips in this post!


What I Know About Dog Food…

BubbaWithout getting into how to read labels – there is a quick way to assess how good (or bad) a food is based on ingredients alone. Visit http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ and look up the brand you feed, or the brand you are considering. You can also search by star rating to find a high quality ingredient food. The question is… Is that enough?

Dog Food Advisor is very helpful in learning about good vs bad ingredients in dog food. Any questionable ingredients are highlighted in red and we easily begin to learn what to look for on the labels we read. In order to choose the appropriate food for our pets, we do have to go beyond what is on the label. Two additional questions have to be answered.

1. Where is the food made? Does the company selling the food make their own product, or is the recipe given to a food processor to make the food? Remember the massive pet food recall of 2007? The one were pets were getting gravely ill and dying because of tainted ingredients? The reason the recall included so many brands is because the brands involved did not process their own product. They lost quality control when contracting with a processor who made food for 60+ brands of food. It was the processor who was in charge of obtaining ingredients for the brands they produced. In order to procure these pet food ingredients in the most cost effective way, some ingredients were sourced from China. This is where things went horribly wrong. How do you know who processes your food? Check the company web site, email them, google them. I personally, would not feed any brand that wasn’t produced by the company selling it. I would also not feed any brand that had been included in the mass recall. Surprisingly, it includes many popular Vet recommended ‘wellness’ brands such as: Blue Buffalo, Eukanuba, Iams, Nutro, and Science Diet. (a partial list of those brands is provided below).
2. Where are the ingredients sourced? Again, we have to do a bit of digging to get to the bottom of it, but fresh, local ingredients are always best. Some brands do choose to ship in select products for safety – such as fish, but a good rule of thumb is fresh ingredients over frozen, and locally sourced so they are not shipping in from China or other places to save money.

Here are some helpful hints and things to know when reading labels:

Meat by-products: lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, bone, stomach, intestines.

Poultry by-products: heads, feet, internal organs, trace amounts of feces or foreign matter.

Meat and Bone Meal: rendered meat, not containing blood, hair, hoof, horn, manure, or stomach contents.

Ground Corn: entire corn kernel ground or chopped; no more than 4% foreign material.

Animal by-product meal: rendered animal tissue that doesn’t fit in any other category; may contain hair, hoof, horn, manure, or stomach contents.

The following are poor quality incomplete proteins: corn gluten meal, wheat gluten meal, rice protein concentrate, and soy protein.

Corn and Soy: inexpensive fillers with no nutritional value for our pets. Both are at the top of the list for allergens causing dis-ease in our pets!

BHA and BHT: preservatives commonly found in dog food and treats. (people food too)  These are chemicals to avoid!  Some studies show an increased risk of cancer associated with BHA and BHT.

**It is LEGAL in most states to manufacture pet foods using the “4-D” meat sources: Diseased, Disabled, Dead, and Dying. These are animals rejected for human consumption, yet fed to our pets!

The most common pet food & treat ingredients causing allergies are Corn, Wheat, Soy and Chicken!

If your pet has sensitivities to food, the most common mistake I see is continuing to give unhealthy treats which contain the ingredients to which the pet is sensitive! Folks must realize – even a little bite is enough to trigger the allergies! Be as choosy with your treats as you are your food!!

Clients often ask about the food I choose to feed my kids… After reviewing several brands with my Veterinarian, some on line research, and contacting a couple of different companies, I chose a rotation diet of the 4 grain- free Acana varieties. While Buster is sensitive to barley, wheat, and corn, none of my kids have sensitive tummies, so they can take the 4 rotating protein recipes. I figure this way, they get the best this brand has to offer – chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, duck, beef, bison, and lamb! My treats are Plato Eos. Grain free Turkey & Pumpkin, Sweet Potato Pumpkin, or Cranberry. I always like to buy locally, however no one in the area currently sells Acana. ?

Acana is more expensive than Beneful, or Pedigree, or even some of the higher quality foods on the market. I justify it because; 1. My kids aren’t going to the Vet for illnesses, allergies, or costly medications, and 2. Higher quality foods containing less fillers are sometimes more economical to feed (even at a slightly higher price point per pound) because I feed my dogs less! While one brand recommends 2 cups 2x/day, often times a higher quality brand food may have you feed 1.5 cups 2x/day.

Feeding amounts – dog food manufacturers want us to feed our pets more! Why? So we buy more food! Usually, the amount on the label is for a dog approximately 2 years of age, who is an athlete! Always start with the lower amount on the range, then, watch your pet’s weight. Is this amount right? Sometimes they will require a little less, or a little more. Be sure to consider your pet’s age in the equation. Just like people, pets need fewer calories as they age and activity levels decrease – the dog food companies don’t always include this on the label! I portion out my pet food using measuring cups! This helps keep weight consistent, and feeding will be consistent no matter who is feeding the pets each meal – spouse, child, or professional pet sitter!

Overweight pets – So often, I see people feeding their pets way too much! We already determined that the amount on the bag may be more than pets really need. What about pets who are already over weight? The mistake folks make is finding their pet’s current weight on the dog food bag, and following those guidelines. Will this help the pet lose weight?? NO! Feeding to their current weight will keep them at their current weight. For poochies who need to lose a few pounds, we need to feed to their proper weight! This may need to be done a little at a time – as not to drastically cut their food portions, but eventually, we need to feed to their healthy weight – not the amount listed on the bag that is their current (over-weight) weight. Please seek the help of your Veterinarian. ASK them how your pet’s weight is! I always ask when my pets weigh-in what their weight was at the last visit. This way I know if their weight is creeping up, or if we are doing a good job maintaining. (If only it was this easy for me to maintain my proper weight – sigh)

I cannot tell you specifically where I gathered all of this information.  I had much of it in my files; things gathered over the years.  I’d like to give credit where credit is due, and the most recent information added regarding ingredients found on labels was from my Veterinarian’s office – CountryCare Animal Complex in DePere, WI.  Thank you for keeping Sadie, Nemo and Buster feeling great!
Below is a list of some of the brands recalled in the 2007 dog food recall.
• Alpo Prime Cuts, Nestle Purina
• Americas Choice, Preferred Pets
• Authority
• Award
• Best Choice
• Big Bet
• Big Red
• Bloom
• Blue Buffalo
• Cadillac
• Companion
• Demoulas Market Basket
• Eukanuba
• Food Lion
• Giant Companion
• Great Choice
• Hannaford
• Hill Country Fare
• Hills Science Diet
• Hy-Vee
• Iams
• Laura Lynn
• Loving Meals
• Meijers Main Choice
• Mighty Dog Pouch
• Mixables
• Natural Balance
• Nutriplan
• Nutro Max
• Nutro Natural Choice
• Nutro Ultra
• Nutro
• Ol’Roy Canada
• Ol’Roy US
• Paws
• Pet Essentials
• Pet Pride – Good n Meaty
• Presidents Choice
• Price Chopper
• Priority Canada
• Priority US
• Publix
• Roche Brothers
• Save-A-Lot Choice Morsels
• Schnucks
• Shep Dog
• Springsfield Prize
• Sprout
• Stater Brothers
• Stop & Shop Companion
• Sunshine Mills Inc.
• Tops Companion
• Wegmans Bruiser
• Weis Total Pet
• Western Family US
• White Rose
• Winn Dixie
• Your Pet