Is It Okay To Feed Bread To Ducks?

mallard-ducks-934518_1280It seems like such a good thing to do. You have stale bread, why waste it? There are plenty of hungry ducks, geese and other birds who are hungry…

The reality is, bread is very unhealthy for birds and can actually be quite dangerous to their health.

Putting bread in canals and lakes pollutes our water. It can cause bacteria to grow, causing excess algae. If the bread becomes moldy and a bird eats it, it can cause aspergillosis, an often fatal lung infection. One infection can decimate an entire flock of ducks. Ducks that become dependent on eating bread will stop seeking out more nutritious food, leading to malnourishment.

If ducks become dependent on humans feeding them, they may hesitate to migrate. This could cause them to freeze over a  harsh winter.

When I worked in wildlife rehabilitation, I saw the effects of malnourishment in waterfowl. Many were brought in because they were unable to fly. Feeding bread can also affect song birds. Mourning doves in particular should never eat bread. This species has a deep crop for storing food. They will fill their crop and digest it later, but when it fills with bread sometimes it gets stuck. The bread expands in the crop and ferments and the bird can no longer eat. People would often bring us several mourning doves found in their yard who were too sick to fly after consuming large quantities of bread.

So what should we feed the ducks? Pick up a bag of cracked corn or duck feed at your local feed store. If you don’t have a feed store nearby, defrosted frozen peas are a good choice as well as wild bird seed. Occasionally, grapes cut in half are a nice treat. Just remember not to overfeed. We want these guys trim and ready to migrate later on the fall!

What should you do with all that leftover bread? Make some bread pudding, stuffing or croutons. You can also add it to your compost pile to fertilize your garden next spring.

 

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References

[2015] Mayntz, M http://birding.about.com/od/birdfeeders/a/feedingducksbread.htm

[2015] http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7001.html

How Often Should You Clean You Pet’s Water Bowl?

dog-bowl-429227_1280We all that know that we need to provide fresh water daily for our pets, but just topping the bowl off can encourage bacteria to grow. If you feel a slimy residue in the bottom and sides of the bowl, that’s dangerous fungus and bacteria starting to grow. Animals can smell that bacteria and often won’t drink as much as they should, potentially causing dehydration. If they do drink contaminated water, they can become ill.

It is best to clean the water dishes daily. If you have a dishwasher, that is an easy way to disinfect pet bowls. For hand washing, scrub with dish detergent and hot water. A natural alternative is to use equal parts baking soda, warm water and salt.

Plastic dishes are not recommended as they can absorb odors and become scratched, which will make them difficult to disinfect. A better choice is stainless steel or ceramic. Glass is also fine to use.

Now that your bowls are all clean and shiny, consider filling them with spring water or filtered water. Your pets will thank you!

 

Reference

Simpson, L [2015]  Invisible Monsters In Your Pet Bowls

Fun Places To Walk Your Dog In Lower Bucks

dogtrail2As dog walkers in the Yardley area we have lots of opportunities to walk dogs along the Yardley Canal. The towpath is dog friendly and sometimes there is even a dog or two taking a quick dip! There are all kinds of wildlife here from frogs and turtles to birds and even the occasional beaver sighting!

Another great place to walk your pup is Falls Township Community Park. There are two different trails, one is shorter and surrounded by trees and another longer trail that circles the lake. There is also a dog park inside the park now.

Playwicki Park in Langhorne  has a trail along the creek where there are lots of deer, frogs and turtles. The path from beginning to end takes about two hours to walk.

One of the largest parks is Tyler State Park in Newtown. It has many different trails suitable for toy breeds looking for a fun walk and longer, more challenging trails for the larger breeds. The park is clean and beautiful, bring a picnic lunch!

Where are some of your favorite places to walk your dog?dogtrail

 

5 Reasons Why A Bird Sitter Is Better Than Boarding

lovebirdsIf you are a bird owner and are looking to board your little friend, a great alternative is an in home pet sitter. Here are five reasons why this might be a better choice:

 

  1. Your bird will have no exposure to other birds who might be sick or have parasites.
  2. You won’t have to transport your bird which can be an ordeal for both bird and owner
  3. A bird sitter will also check in on your house every day. This is an added security advantage.
  4. Your bird will be able to maintain his regular schedule. Your sitter can visit twice a day, morning for breakfast and play time, night time for dinner and  and cover.
  5. You can be sure your bird will receive individual, loving attention every day while you are away!

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

5 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe On The Fourth Of July

independence-day-159462_1280Here are some tips to help keep your dog happy and safe over the holiday: 

  1. Keep you dogs indoors as much as possible. Don’t leave your dog unattended, even in a fenced in yard. Loud noises can make dogs do things they would not normally do, such as jump a fence or crawl under it.
  2. If you will be out for the evening, close all the windows, close the blinds and put the AC on. This will help with the noise. Put a TV or radio on a little louder than usual.
  3. Consider a Thundershirt. They have a calming effect on most dogs and are available now at PetSmart.
  4. If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, he will likely be afraid of fireworks too. If she pants excessively or her heart races during a storm, talk with your vet. Sometimes they will prescribe mild tranquilizers to help with their anxiety
  5. If you are having a barbecue, keep an eye on your pup around the grill. Also, be mindful of guests who may leave a plate with bones on it where your dog can reach. Do not leave alcoholic beverages unattended.

Have a happy and safe Fourth Of July!

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When Is It Too Hot To Walk My Dog?

 

pugDogs need to go outside no matter what the weather is like, but when is it too hot to go for a full walk?

As summer approaches, we need to take extreme heat and humidity  into consideration. How hot is too hot? If there are weather advisories regarding extreme heat, it is too hot to take your pup for a long walk. Shorter potty breaks are a safer choice. Take into consideration how hot the sidewalks are and if there is a shaded place to walk your dog. Senior and young puppies are more sensitive to the heat than young adult dogs. Thick coated breeds such as Shelties and Akitas are prone to heat stroke. Pugs, English Bulldogs, Shih Tzus  and similar push nosed breeds aren’t able to pant as efficiently as other breeds and as a result can’t cool themselves down quickly. This can cause  respiratory distress.

Dr. Carrie Phelps, DVM states that shorter, more frequent walks are recommended in hot temperatures, allowing for better recovery and not getting dogs too overheated.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

  • excessive panting
  • drinking large amounts of water

Signs of heat stroke:

  • restlessness
  • drooling,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea
  • disorientation
  • bright red tongue and gums

 

First aid measures include spraying the dog with a cool water mister bottle, applying wet cool towels to the dog’s neck, chest, tummy and between the legs. Do not use ice. Encourage them to drink, but don’t force them. Call your veterinarian.
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When’s the  best time to walk your dog in hot temps?  The same as when it is best to do gardening and other work outdoors. Early in the morning and after 7:00pm.

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/36204108@N00/5631779007″>MAMAMAMAMA!</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/83128028@N00/13577273485″>?? / Taipei – ???</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

http://www.vcaspecialtyvets.com/cms/pdf/patient-forms/1122122/110912091244/Heat-Stroke-Brochure-Proof-R3.pdf

 

 

Are Air Fresheners And Plug-Ins Safe?

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A lot of pet owners are concerned about pet odor, litter box odor in particular. They use plug-ins and spray air fresheners to hep mask the smell. But are they really safe?

According to the Natural Resource Defense Council the answer is no. The NRDC recently tested 14 air fresheners and found that 12 of them contained phthalates chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. Some of the products were labeled all natural and unscented. According to Scientific American, air fresheners also contain  benzene and formaldehyde, which can cause cancer. Another common ingredient is volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can cause headaches, nausea and can aggrevate asthma. If these products are  harmful to humans, I can only imagine what they are doing to our pets.

So what can we do about pet odor? First, we can open our windows and air everything out. Get a fan going to circulate the air. Mix four teaspoons baking soda to four cups of water and put in a spray bottle to use as an odor neutralizer. One part vinegar to four parts water is not only an excellent cleaner but it gets rid of odors as well. Simmering cinnamon and cloves in water on a stove will make the whole house smell wonderful.

To learn more about the study on air fresheners click here.

 

(2015) Toxic Air Fresheners? http://www.nrdc.org/living/healthreports/hidden-hazards-air-fresheners.asp

(2012)  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nontoxic-air-fresheners/

Let’s Talk About Litter Boxes

litter box

If our cats could talk they would tell us that we are doing it all wrong with the litter box. Most litter boxes are designed to appeal to the owner, not the cat. There’s a popular one I see a lot where the cat needs to jump into a hole in the top and into the litter box. For a confident cat or an only cat this might be fine. For a timid cat or one that is in a multiple cat household, the kitty has no idea what is going on outside of the box and that can be quite terrifying for them. Lids are something else your cat would probably tell you to do away with. The cat is always worrying about an exit strategy. This can be a real problem in multi-cat households. A cat that is constantly worried about how to safely exit the litter box might start going to the bathroom outside the box altogether.

Round boxes and fancy domed boxes with stairs are too small for a cat to move around in. It is much better to have a low sided large pan, especially for older and overweight cats. For the younger cats, a Rubbermaid tote without a lid can make a great litter pan. When looking for a place to put the box, again remember a cat’s exit strategy. Place the litter box where kitty can see from all angles. This will make your cat feel safe to use the box.

When choosing litter, most cats prefer clumping litter. Don’t go too crazy with scented litters and powders to reduce odor. Simply scooping every day will get the job done. Some cats are sensitive to strong scents and might stop using the box if they find the scent unpleasant. My favorite litter is Target brand Unscented Scoopable. It clumps great and doesn’t have a strong smell.

If you are having problems with your cat not using the litter box, it’s always best to check with your vet first to make sure your cat is not having health issues. If she gets a clean bill of health, try some of these tips and see if it helps.

Need someone to scoop the litter box and feed the kitty while you are away? Give us a call at 267-981-4929.catbigeyes

 

10 Reasons Why I Understand My Clients

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I spend a lot of time keeping up with the pet sitting industry. The term “ideal client” comes up quite a bit. I was thinking about who my ideal client is and I realized it is actually someone just like me. Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. My pets are my children. Seriously. I know people say that a lot but just ask my grown kids and they will tell you that growing up in my house, the pets were given as much consideration as any family member.
  2. I worry about my pets. Like all the time. I need a pet sitter who understands I feel guilty about leaving my pets.
  3. I need to check up on my pets. If I am away, I need pictures and updates.
  4. Some of my pets are special needs. I need a sitter who can give medication to them as needed.
  5. Some of my pets are seniors. I need someone who has experience handling the older guys and the patience to care for them.
  6. I talk to my pets. Every day. I want a sitter who isn’t afraid to belt out a song or two while spending time with my babies.
  7. My pets aren’t perfect. Most of my guys are rescues. They come with baggage. Sometimes they don’t want to get off the sofa to go potty. I need a sitter who can motivate with love and kindness.
  8. I need someone who understands birds. My parrot is high maintenance and a little neurotic at times. I need a sitter who understands that the silver bowl really does need to be on the left. It matters to him.
  9. Little things mean a lot. My cats enjoy looking out the window. I need a sitter who will remember to open and close the curtains each day.
  10. My cats eat at their own stations. I need a sitter who will understand the importance of my cat’s personal space at meal time.

If any of this sounds like you, please give us a call to schedule a meet and greet! 267-981-4929ozgrape

Why We Don’t Do Every Other Day Visits For Cats

 

cat-636172_640When a new cat client calls, sometimes they request every other day visits for their cats. I have even received requests for visits once every three days.  We understand that some cats only eat dry food and aren’t very social, but we do more than play with your cat, change the litter and feed them. We make sure your kitty is safe and healthy.

I entered a home recently where a cat had managed to lock herself in the bathroom. If this had been an every other day visit, the cat would have been very hungry and would have made quite a mess. Cats are infamous for locking themselves in rooms.

Another concern is illness. Male cats can develop urinary blockages and become gravely ill very quickly. There are several other illnesses that can happen over the course of a day and need quick veterinary attention.

I have arrived at homes where cats have knocked over lamps, broke glasses and knick knacks.  Once a  kitty knocked over an electric candle that was hot enough to burn a hole in the rug. I have even heard stories where cats managed to turn on a stove.

The bottom line is cats can get into trouble when left alone for long periods of time!

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