Why a Pet Water Fountain Might Not Be The Best Choice

 

pet-water-fountainPet water fountain bowls have been all the rage for years now,  I used to own one myself. As a pet sitter I am in and out of homes and have worked with pretty much every brand out there and I have found problems with all of them.

The bowls are VERY difficult to clean. The traditional fountains I see most often are made of many moving parts with nooks and crannies that are nearly impossible to get to with a sponge. One brand even sells a scrubbing kit with different sized bristles. That should tell you something right there! They are a challenge to clean even for the most diligent pet owner.  Bacteria loves to grow in these fountains. Whether they are plastic, stainless, or ceramic, the only true way to keep the bacteria out is to take the fountain apart and wash and reassemble. Every. Single. Day. This is a lot of work for a pet owner. It is much easier to switch out a stainless bowl daily with a clean one and fill with filtered water from a Brita or from the water dispenser that comes with many fridge models.

Please keep in mind the filter is not magical. I have taken apart these fountains for cleaning only to find the filter itself had mold on it!.  If you have a fountain bowl, empty it out and take a paper towel to the bowl and the filter compartment. If the paper towel comes out with a yellowish slime, that’s biofilm. Biofilm is a slimish film where bacteria thrives. The filter will do nothing to prevent biofilm, you will still need to wipe the bowl out daily.

If you are worried your cat is not getting enough water, try adding a water dish at different stations in the home. You can use a drinking glass or ceramic mug and place it on a nightstand or bathroom counter. If your cat likes running water, go ahead and turn on the tub or sink for a few moments each day. It might not be as good as filtered but in most cases it will be cleaner water than what is coming out of those fountains. For dogs who are not drinking enough, try adding a little water to each meal. You can also experiment with what your dog likes best, some love Brita water but other dogs prefer bottled water brands. Dogs have sensitive noses and they might pick up on something we can not smell in the water. Extra stations can help for dogs as well, consider adding a water bowl for each floor or wherever your dog hangs out a lot. chihuahua-1351026_1280

If you have already purchased a pet fountain or still would like to try one, just be sure to keep it super clean. Rinse and wipe out daily and at least twice a week soak all the parts in a vinegar solution to kill bacteria. If there are parts that go in the dishwasher, go ahead and put them in there. Although it is very tempting, refrain from just topping off the bowl. Taking the extra step of emptying and refilling daily will keep the parts cleaner and keep your pet healthier as well.

How To Deal With The Loss of A Pet

dog-bed-30749_1280Losing a pet is one of the hardest things we will ever go through in life. It will make people who never cry shed significant tears.

 It makes sense that the sadness is so profound, after all we have lost a friend who was always there for us, even at our worst. They accept us for who we are and give our life purpose.

So when the time comes to say goodbye, we now have a giant hole in our life. How to fill that hole is a little different for everyone, but here are a few suggestions on dealing with the grief.

In the first few hours after you have said goodbye, sometimes it’s best to get out for a little while. It doesn’t have to be anything too crazy, it can be a walk around a favorite store or having coffee with a friend. It is okay to talk about your pet but it’s also okay if you don’t want to. Do whatever feels right and don’t feel pressured one way or the other. When you do return home, consider moving things around so there aren’t too many painful reminders of your pet such as their bed or their feeding dish. But of course if those things are giving you comfort, by all means leave them where they are for now. Right now this is all about you and what brings you peace.

Social media can be cathartic at moments like these. Sharing photos of your pet online  and reading all of the comments and likes is a way of celebrating their life. If you want to fill your wall with photos of Fido, go for it. If you prefer not to talk about him online at all, that’s perfectly fine too. Do whatever feels good.

Consider eating your favorite comfort foods, especially takeout. Don’t be hard on yourself if you fall away from your diet for a couple of weeks. No one is going to judge you, you’ve been through a lot.

If you don’t feel like going anywhere, go ahead and binge watch some Netflix. There’s nothing like a good crime drama to help you forget about your troubles for a bit.

Allow time to process your grief before jumping on Petfinder. The temptation to adopt another pet right away can be quite strong, but try to give it a little time to be sure this is the right decision for you. This amount of time will be different for everyone, sometimes it’s a couple of weeks but for others it can be years.

As the days and weeks go by, the hole in your life will not simply disappear, it will just become much smaller. The hole will leave a permanent scar, but that scar will eventually become a beautiful memory of the life you had with your pet.

How To Find A Great Pet Sitter

australian-terrier-164087_640When google searching for someone to care for your pets, you will likely see Rover, Care. Com or DogVacay come up at the top of your search results. But are they the best place to find a great pet sitter?

 

Those sites will tell you that the sitter you select on their site has paid for a background check, has experience and some will even insure the sitter in your home. This all sounds wonderful, right? It actually can work out very well, but in some instances it has had disastrous results. All of these sites and many others can also attract people who are looking to make what they think is “easy money”. It might be someone who started out with the best intentions and became overwhelmed or in a few cases a dishonest person looking for access to people’s homes. I am not saying that will definitely happen if you hire someone on these sites. There are also professionals on there such as myself hoping that pet parents will choose one of us instead of the cheapest sitter, who may not have the experience to handle a variety of possible scenarios that may come up.  

I know many pet parents don’t want to think about something going wrong while they are away, but what if a pipe bursts or the power goes out? What if your dog suddenly stops eating or your cat is not urinating in the litter box? A high school or college student may not recognize the early symptoms of an illness or know what to do in the event of a home emergency or worse, a pet emergency.  A professional pet sitter has seen it all! My company as well as many others in our industry know the importance of getting all of a client’s emergency contacts, learning the behavior of their cat or dog and what to do when things don’t go quite as planned. A professional pet sitter has a plan B AND a plan C. We know that if a cat has not urinated in the box that he might be going elsewhere OR it might be a urinary blockage that will need a trip to the ER. We will be in close contact with the pet parent to collaboratively solve the problem. We will call their emergency contacts in the event we come in and there is a broken pipe or an extended power outage. We are all fully insured and bonded, but in my experience we have never needed to use it because we quickly get in front of any potential problem.

 

You can still say ” my dog is really easy” or “my cat just needs his food and water bowls topped off” but any professional pet sitter will tell you that there have been times where a simple job became quite complex and the pet owner was relieved that they hired someone who knew exactly what to do when things became complicated. We walk dogs every day and know what to do if a strange dog suddenly comes charging at your dog. We have back up leashes in our car should you accidentally leave the dog leash in your car. We have the experience that is needed when caring for a special needs or senior pet. If your cat or dog is in sudden respiratory distress or something more subtle such as your parrot is not using his normal perch, we recognize these problems because we have cared for hundreds of pets and have encountered a variety of situations. If we encounter a medical emergency we are always prepared to take your pet to the veterinarian.bird-1284082_640

So how does a pet owner find a true pet care professional? When performing a google search, try looking below the above list of directories and click on local pet sitting websites. Read through their About Us profile, Testimonial page and Facebook Business page. See what people are saying about them. Do they live in your town? How long have they been doing this professionally? What is their professional background as far as caring for pets? If you are in a hurry to find a pet sitter, besides doing a google search you can ask your vet for recommendations, your apartment complex, your neighbors or your groomer.  You can also go to http://www.petsitters.org or https://www.petsit.com/locate for a directory of pet care professionals. On these sites you won’t find anyone who is just doing pet sitting or dog walking on the side. Instead, you will find pet care professionals who,  like myself, own professional pet sitting and dog walking services. We all work with animals full time, every day.  These two organizations, Pet Sitters International and the National Association Of Professional Pet Sitters have certification programs and a wealth of resources for professional pet sitters as well as annual conferences for continuing education. Most professional pet sitters belong to one or both of these organizations, look for a badge on their website.kittens
 
Please keep in mind that the best sitter for your pet might cost a little more, but you will be glad you spent a few extra dollars should a situation arise that needs a professional!
 

Five Reasons Why You Might Need A Dog Walker

13577273485_3d4d7925d2There are many joys of dog ownership, both for the owner and the dog. Dogs have been linked to health benefits like lowering blood pressure and alleviating depression. They are great companions for adults and children alike.

There are also tremendous responsibilities that go along with owning a dog, such as keeping him well groomed, getting regular vet care, feeding healthy food and making sure he gets exercise.

Something that not everyone thinks about is: what happens if you work long hours or want to go on a day trip? This is when a dog walker can help.

Here are five more reasons why a dog walker might be right for you:

  1. You have a young dog. Puppies can not “hold it” the way some adult dogs can. Giving him a mid day potty break can prevent accidents while you are gone.
  2. You have a senior dog. Just like puppies, older dogs may not be able to wait eight plus hours to go potty. Also, it can be the highlight of their day when their dog walker arrives.
  3. Your dog has separation anxiety. If your dog is lonely or even bored, he may get into trouble. Giving him a mid day break might save your shoes and even your furniture from being chewed!
  4. Your dog has a chronic illness. A mid day potty break can also include giving meds, feeding or just making sure your doing is doing okay while you are gone.
  5. You feel guilty leaving your dog all day. Knowing that he will get some TLC during the day can go a long way to help alleviate the guilt you feel. As you head out the door you will know someone is coming to spend some one on one time with your best friend.

Do you think your dog might benefit from a mid day potty break?

Give us a call at (267) 981-492912365900_10154061132274796_3978859531553865336_o

Help! I Found A Turtle In The Road!

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Eastern Box Turtle

When I worked in wildlife rehabilitation, people would often bring in uninjured turtles they found in the middle of the road. We would always ask the person if they could go back to where they found the turtle and place him safely on the other side of the road. The important part was making sure he was placed in the same direction he was going.

The reason for this is the turtle is on a mission, he could be looking to breed, or if it’s a female she could be looking for a good place to nest. If you flip him around he will just turn around and will be right back on that road again. If he is released elsewhere he will be truly lost, causing him great stress trying to find his territory again.

For most turtles, you can grab them by both sides of the shell behind the legs and carry them across. For a large turtle that has a long tail, it could be a snapper. Do not pick them up! Picking them up by the tail is also a no no, they can often stretch around and bite your leg. The safest way to get them off the road is to move them along with a blunt object, such as a snow shovel. I have also pushed them along with a rubbermaid container with great success. The idea is to put something between you and the turtle, also being sure not to injure the the turtle in the process.

If you see any signs of injury to the turtle such as a cracked shell or blood, call your local wildlife rehabber and they can instruct you on what to do.

As tempting as it may be, DO NOT take a found turtle home as a pet. This turtle has lived out on its own for a long time, possibly 50 years or more. We are not doing it a favor “rescuing” it and putting it in a tank. If you are interested in owning a pet turtle, please visit your local pet store or a private breeder. They have young turtles ready to be adopted.

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Snapping Turtle

It may seem like a small gesture to pick up a turtle and carry him a few feet, but for that little guy you have most likely saved his life!

A Tale Of Three Tabbies – A Weight Loss Journey

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The Girls in 2014

Ten years ago I rescued three kittens. They were only 10 days old, so tiny! We bottle fed them and they grew up to be three of the most beautiful tortie tabbies I have ever seen. As the years past, they didn’t just grow up, they grew out. My tiny girls were overweight. They all seemed healthy, so no harm, right? Then, my girl PeaPod started to limp a bit. She couldn’t jump on anything and if we lifted her up on a chair, she often needed to be rescued to get back to the floor. Her sisters, Gwen and Morgaine, could barely jump. They had become obese and I knew I needed to do something about it.

I started to limit their dry food. There was no change at all. In fact, it made them food obsessed and hungry all the time. They were carb addicts! Then one day my vet said “you know if you cut out the dry food they will lose weight”. I thought, Really?? Could it be that simple?  But they love dry food!

So I made a plan. We went cold turkey. Two cans Fancy Feast per day per cat, spread over four meals. The idea was the same as when I dieted – don’t let them get too hungry.

At first they were confused…where is the dry food? But after a couple of days they started looking forward to all of the little meals throughout the day. Little by little the weight started coming off! They started to jump again! PeaPod  stopped limping and was able to get up and down off of furniture without assistance! It actually worked!!

Here are their weights in February 2015:

Morgaine 17.2 lbs.

PeaPod 14.2 lbs.

Gwen 16.0 lbs

gwen

Gwen 2016

Weights in February 2016

Morgaine 13.2 lbs.

PeaPod 12.0 lbs.

Gwen 13.6 lbs.

My girls are large kitties, so their weights are a little higher than your average cat. It’s always best to consult with your vet before trying a weight loss plan for your cat, they can guide you on how much weight your cat needs to lose.

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Morgaine 2016

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PeaPod 2016

I’d love to hear some success stories from cat owners that stopped the dry food habit. It worked for my girls and they are a lot happier now!

 

Happy New Year And Thank You!

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Rex and Grace, Bichon Frise dogs

I want to take a moment to thank our Pet Nanny family  for another successful year.

I often see businesses post the number of clients they gained in a year or how much their revenue increased. I measure our success a little differently.

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Pot Roast, tabby cat

For me, success feels more like…a shy cat that comes out to visit us for the first time after caring for them all week…a senior dog who has been off her food agreeing to eat after a little massage and words of encouragement… a frightened rescue pup allowing us to leash them for the first time…talking an anxious African Grey parrot out from under the china cabinet…every time we earn the love and trust of your pet we are truly successful.

We were fortunate enough to win Best Of Bucks and appeared twice in the local paper this year and I am proud of those accomplishments because they got the word out about our services.

But what matters the most is giving our clients peace of mind when they leave pets in our care. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to look after for your special family members.

Linda, Jana, Korki  and I look forward to seeing our furry, feathered and scaled friends in 2016!

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Lucy, a Rottweiler

Happy New Year!

A Word About The Feral Cat Problem

 

cat-72568_1920You may have recently seen a video going around social media that was taken at Core Creek Park in Langhorne. It shows lime being spread around the paths of the park. The word from park officials is that they are trying to get rid of the urine odor caused by the colony.

What they didn’t explain was the real purpose of spreading lime in a feral cat colony is to deter cats. Lime is also toxic to them and humans as well. People bring their dogs and their children to that park. I question the reasoning of taking such a drastic measure like this after the cats have been there at least 20 years. I also wonder why there has not been a successful effort for a trap- neuter- release program. From the research I have done, it seems that many of the cats have been dumped there by local residents. I am sure many of those cats that were dumped were litters of kittens. Read more about the danger of spreading lime here.

This is where the real problem is- it’s people, not cats that have caused this situation.

Every week from spring though fall I see free kitten signs everywhere. They are on bulletin boards, posted to online yard sales and community pages. Many of these cats have been pregnant several times. We have enough cats! There are feral cat colonies all over Bucks County. Some residents are angry and they are hurting and killing these poor felines.

We need to educate the cat owners about the importance of spaying and neutering. We also need affordable places for people to take them to have the surgery performed.

One such place is  The Bridge Clinic  in Trevose . For $75, they will give your cat a rabies shot and FVRCP vaccine in addition to neutering. They are also in need of volunteers for TNR and at the clinic.

Unspayed cats are likely to have behavioral wetting problems. Females are at a very high risk for mammary gland cancer. Male cats as well as females will be less likely to roam if neutered.  There are no good reasons to not spay/neuter. They will not get fat and having one litter is of no benefit for the female cat. These are just silly old wives tales.

Getting all cats spayed and neutered will help them live a longer, happier life!

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What Is A Professional Pet Sitter?

photo-1415369629372-26f2fe60c467We love our job!  We get to play and care for animals all day long and it really doesn’t get any better than that. But some of you may wonder how are we different than the neighbor down the block?

Here are a few things that set us apart from the hobby pet sitters:

  • We are not going anywhere! We started this business five years ago and  we will be here for many years to come. This was a long time dream to provide this service and we can’t imagine doing anything else.
  • We are bonded and insured for your protection. Every pet sitter is fully background checked for your peace of mind.
  • This is our “real job”. Many people pet sit on the side, we do this full time so we are here and available when you need us.
  • We are a team. If one of us has a flat tire or gets sick, we have a back up sitter in place.
  • We know pets! Working with animals all day helps us to better understand them. We will cuddle with your dog when he is afraid of the thunderstorm and will lie on the floor and talk to your cat when he doesn’t feel like coming out from under the bed. We love what we do!
  • We care for special needs and senior pets. We understand the unique needs of these animals and work closely with you to create a plan that works best for your individual pet. This can mean giving meds, making more frequent visits or assisting dogs who need help going outside.

These are just a few things that set us apart from a hobbyist. It  may cost a little more, but you will have peace of mind knowing your pets are in the best hands!

Need a pet sitter? Give us a call at 267-981-4929

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Keeping Pets Safe On Halloween

pom halloweenHalloween is one of my favorite holidays and if you’re like me, you love giving out candy to all the children and seeing their Halloween costumes. But unfortunately, Halloween night can be stressful for our dogs and cats. I recently learned that Halloween is the second most common holiday to lose a pet, the first is the Fourth Of July.

We open and close our door many times and even if  there’s a storm door, children will often prop it open while we are handing out candy. Dogs like to greet people at the door and they can easily slip out in all the chaos. Kitties who like to dart outside can slip out without anyone noticing since they are so small.

Ideally, try to confine the pets to an area of the house where they don’t have access to the front door. Don’t leave them in the yard unattended during the time you are giving out candy. Make sure they are wearing collars with current ID tags.  If they do get out, someone will be able to contact you when they find them.

If your dogs are prone to anxiety, try a Thundershirt or putting them in a room with the TV or radio on. You can also talk to your vet about possible medications to give them for the evening.

And of course, remember to keep all the candy out of your pet’s reach!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!dog halloween