Monday, January 30, 2017

Walking in a NOLA Wonderland

Audubon Park uptown provides a great space for a winter afternoon walk.

When we think of winter pet care, what immediately comes to mind (besides shivering) is images of animals outdoors in the cold encountering snow, rain, and other horrors of frigidity, but for those of us living in the deep south in the U.S., the reality of winter is something altogether completely different.

Believe it or not, New Orleans averages just six nights of freezing temperatures per year. Because our subtropical climate generally spares us from harsh temperatures and snow, it can be easy to forget that in many places, this time of year winter really is winter. It can also be easy to forget how to be prepared when real winter does happen. For us in New Orleans, winter is a constant cycle of do we wear a sweater today or a T-shirt?

Ironically, January is National Walk Your Dog Month. While the average daily temperature this time of the year is 61F for New Orleans (our coldest month), it's not nearly that pleasant in most of the rest of country. That leads to the question, who decided that January should be walk your dog month? Had to have been a southerner.

Our client, Lulu, pausing to brace herself in the wind.

Since New Orleans is green year-round, taking walks in winter when it's not oppressively hot is great for both dogs and humans (especially on those days when it's in the 60s). Regular walks allow dogs of all ages to get exercise as well as learn about and interact with the world around them.

For most dogs, outdoor temperatures in the 50s don't pose much risk, but for small breeds there is some potential for unsafe conditions beginning at about 40F. All breeds are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia so don't take it for granted that your BFF doesn't need a sweater or booties. Also, don't forget about the potential effect of wind chill on your fur babies.

Some older pets, puppies and kittens, as well as animals with health issues can all have trouble regulating body temperature. When it's windy out, the natural body heat given off at the skin's surface will be reduced, making it harder to stay warm enough. In extreme cases, strong winter wind can even cause eye damage.

Our client, Sam, all bundled up for his outing on a chilly day.

We covered a number of important winter pet care tips in a previous blog post, but there a few points worth repeating: Never leave animals in a car for any length of time. Just as a car can heat up to oven temps on warm days, it can get refrigerator frosty during cold snaps.

Make sure pets are able to stay hydrated both indoors and out, and keep them away from space heaters which can cause serious burns. Not everyone has central air and New Orleans is full of drafty old houses so if you must use a space heater, purchase one that automatically shuts off if tipped over.

Provide beds with sides for both cats and dogs, and consider adding pads that use the animal's own body heat to help them stay warm without electricity. Special pads and extra blankets can be especially useful for older pets with mobility issues or those with short legs.

Our client, Biscuit, chilling out on his nice comfy bed.

We've already mentioned the benefits of walking at any time of year - and we'll continue to do so in the future - but if your New Year resolution was to exercise and be more fit, your four-legged BFF couldn't be a better partner. Who better to keep you motivated than someone who always wants to go out?

While fitness is essential to good health, the second most important reason for walking your dog regularly is the mental stimulation it provides. Dogs who aren't bored during the day and who get to burn off excess energy will automatically be better behaved, especially when you have to be away from home for several hours.

Our client, Benny, all set to explore.

Be sure to change things up on your route from time to time to provide different sights and smells. If time allows, consider venturing to another part of town. Your dog will be in ecstatic with an entire new set of sights and smells to experience.

Whether it's National Walk Your Dog Month, or any other time of the year, taking your dog (or cat) out for an ambulatory excursion is a great opportunity to get in some real quality time. If you and your BFF have a favorite place to hang out in the New Orleans area, we'd love to know about it! Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite place in the area to explore, walk, run or play.

For specific information on winter protection, be sure to see our Pinterest Board on Winter Pet Care.

Useful links:

Winterizing Pets Can Take the Chill Away

Keeping Your Indoor Cat Warm in Winter

5 Ways to Protect Pets This Winter

Cats and Cars in Cold Weather

An Explanation of Wind Chill

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Year-end Pet Care Roundup

December in New Orleans is wholly unpredictable. You never know if you'll wake up to snow or if you'll be walking around in shorts. Of course warm weather is usually followed by rain and the return of cold air, but it's a cycle we in the Crescent City put up with gladly as fall transitions into winter.

Along with the official calendar start of our coldest season, December is a festive time filled with a multitude of celebrations and holidays. All that fun and festivity can mean stress or potential hazards for your baby. (Did you know there are almost two dozen internationally celebrated holidays in the month of December?)

Our client, Max, pausing to pose out on a walk.

Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts, Hannukah and Kwanzaa candles, as well as holiday foods and drinks, all need to be handled with mindful care in order to avoid unnecessary pet distress and expensive emergency vet care. Be sure that visiting guests in your home know about these risks as well when they come over during the holidays.

Our client, Winnie, posing near her Christmas tree.

We've covered pet safety around poinsettias and Christmas trees in previous posts, as well as some of the potential dangers when we deck our halls with boughs of holly, etc., but while poinsettia are only mildly toxic to companion animals, ingestion of holly or mistletoe can be much more serious

Our client, Chester, hamming it up for the camera in true holiday spirit.

Always keep the number for the pet poison hotline handy in case of emergencies: 1-800- 213-6680. For specific tips on how to have stress-free holidays in December as well as during the rest of the year, be sure to visit our Pinterest board Having Happy Holidays.

Last month we took you on a visit to Little Paws Dog Park in the upper 9th ward to continue our series on local dog parks (we started the series off last year with a visit to the Wisner Dog Run uptown). Earlier this year it was the Crescent Dog Run in the Bywater, and in spring of 2017 we'll be visiting City Bark.

A view across Little Paws Dog Park from the shade. 

Recently we also shared some Fall Safety Tips with you to help keep your fur babies healthy and happy throughout the autumnal season. As we're now heading into winter, we'll be sharing cold season care tips next in January for taking care of pets both indoors and out.

We've mentioned the importance of play before, and last spring we told you about some of our favorite toys. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. It might also surprise you to know that obesity is the number one health problem in birds.

Our client, Benny, out for a walk in the fall air.

Obesity in pets can cause arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart and respiratory disease, and even some forms of cancer. We touched on feline fitness in the October blog post, and how to judge the exercise level for your dog in our June post on dog walking.

Last, but certainly not least, a few months back we playfully asked if New Orleans had gone to the dogs, and told you about places around town from coffee shops to big box stores that were not only pet friendly, but kept treats on hand for four legged visitors.

These pups were out shopping for wine in the Marigny with their mom.

There are a surprising number of bars around town that allow dogs - mostly during the non-busy hours. Then again, it is New Orleans...

As we approach the end of 2016 - a year for the history books - we'd like to take a moment to remind you that Christmas trees and pets don't mix! Be sure any lit candles in your holiday decor won't come in contact with fur or be knocked over, and that all holiday food and drinks are kept well out of reach.

Happy December!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Exploring The Upper 9: A Visit to Little Paws Dog Park

Situated slightly off the beaten path in the upper 9's historic Bywater neighborhood, Little Paws Dog Park is easy to miss if you aren't looking for it. In fact, if you happen to glance to the right instead of diligently keeping watch on the left, you'll most certainly drive right past it.

Located at 4517 N. Robertson, two blocks below Poland Avenue, Little Paws sits adjacent to the on-ramp of the Judge Seeber (industrial canal) bridge, between Kentucky and Japonica Streets. The small park, which first opened in January of 2015, is for small dogs only 40 lbs or less.

Conceived by Tia  Torres of Pit Bulls and Parolees fame, Little Paws became New Orleans' fourth off-leash dog park when it opened last year. It is the result, in part, of a successful bid in the 2014 Propeller and New Orleans Redevelopment Authority sponsored PitchNola Lots of Progress event by Little Dawgz in the Hood, which garnered a second place win and $2,000 award (provided by Entergy).

Villalobos Rescue Center runs the park, which is open daily from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm.  Unlike the other parks/runs we've looked at thus far, Little Paws has a good amount of shade.

There is ample open space for little fur babies to run around and play on and off of grass.

There are a number of benches around the sides of the park...

As well as a water pad...

On the day of our visit the recycled toilet drinking fountain in the front of the park had been dismantled, but there was a spigot and hose just inside the gate along the front fence.

There is a bathroom for the park's two-legged visitors (though it may be a good idea to bring along a pocket pack of tissues and some wipes when visiting).

One thing to note about the park is the presence of at least one oak tree - specifically the tree at the park entrance, that had littered the ground with acorns. Both oak leaves and acorns can be toxic to dogs, so keep an eye on pups prone to chew.

Our previous dog park posts:

NOLA Dog Parks Part 2: The Crescent Park Dog Run

A Glimpse at the Dog Run at Wisner Playground

Useful links:

Neighborhood Eyesore to Gathering Place

Dog Parks in New Orleans

Dog Park Etiquette

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fall Pet Health and Safety

This month we are focusing on fall pet health and safety topics at Petit Pet Care. Despite the official change of season and the equinox occurring on September 21, Autumn in New Orleans doesn't really seem like so with average temperatures still in the 80s, occurring as late as October. That means some of the same pet care concerns of spring and summer will carry over into the fall, and maybe even into early winter.

Our client, Claire, posing with a fall pumpkin.

With the return of football season, as well as impending holiday festivities, it's important to remember that our four-legged family members need to be protected from all the potential hazards of parties and pastimes. That means keeping all people food and beverages, decorations, as well as trash, out of your fur babies' reach. Even things that are not toxic to pets can still cause intestinal distress and lead to very expensive vet bills.

Fall is a relatively mild season, and with the lower humidity and cooler temperatures, it's great for getting outdoors. However, even though it's more pleasant to be outside, it doesn't mean that all the hot-weather hazards are no longer a concern. In fact, in 78 degree weather, a vehicle parked in the shade can still get up to 90 degrees, so don't leave your fur baby in the car while you shop. Sidewalks and asphalt roads are still an issue as well, since asphalt temperature is still in the triple digits when the air temp is just in the upper 70s.

Our client, Chester, pausing in the shade.

Proper hydration is just as important in the fall for pets (and for you too) as it is for warmer months, so be sure to carry bottled water on your outings and make sure outdoor dwelling animals have access to an ample supply. You don't want your BFF to have to resort to puddles or other standing water that may contain toxins.

Our client, Leon, taking a drink.

Autumn is a time of year when it's super important to be tick smart, and because New Orleans stays pretty warm into the winter it's still possible to see ticks - and fleas - very late in the year. Always check your pets for ticks when they have been outside for prolonged periods especially if they have been rolling around or playing in leaves. One great pet hack is to use a lint roller on your pet after walks and outings.

If you're a bit squeamish or not really sure of the best way to examine your dog for ticks, here's a great video resource: How to check your dog for ticks. Also, Pet Health Network's vector-borne map can help you learn what tick diseases are prevalent in your area. For more information on ticks and and fleas and how to keep them off your family, as well as information on disease prevention and treatment, check out our Pinterest board Pet Health and Safety.

Our client, Merlin, chilling on the mantle.

Many people set out bowls of fruit, nuts and candies during the holidays. These things may be forgotten in the bustle of fall festivities, but even a small plastic candy wrapper can cause a problem if ingested. Keep pups away from parties and front door trick or treaters by putting up baby gates, and give cats their own space to hang out in behind a closed door.

An important note about candy: According to Pet Health Network, The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is, so avoid that trip to the vet by keeping it out of reach. Also, sugar free candy can contain xylitol, which may be even more dangerous than chocolate.

Regular and proper grooming is an important part of pet health. Cooler weather means thickening of coats and more potential for matting. The type of bush your pet requires will depend on hair length (much like humans). Regal Pet Resort recommends using a rubber brush for loosening dead skin and dirt, followed by a bristle brush.

Seasonal allergies are another potential issue in the fall. When there isn't a lot of rain, there is a lot more pollen in the air (and on cars and...). We touched on allergies in our previous post, Spring Has Sprung, and we have several resources on animals and seasonal allergies as well bookmarked on our seasonal pet care Pinterest boards.

In the fall you should also be mindful with any pest prevention measures. It goes without saying that rodenticides and mothballs should be kept away from pets, but be sure these things are stored properly as well to make sure curious kitties and canines can't get into them.

Fall also means the end of daylight savings time. If you and your BFF are outside after dark, be sure to wear light colored clothing and use reflectors for yourself and your pet.

Useful links:

Autumn Safety Tips

Tick Dangers and Precautions

6 Easy Ways to Keep Your Yard Free of Ticks

Fall Pet Grooming to Keep Your Dog Happy and Healthy.

Dog Brush Selection Guide

How Do I Know if my Dog Has Allergies

Halloween Safety Pet Tips

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Feline Fitness: Cats and kitties need exercise too!

Do cats need regular exercise? You bet - and for the same reasons that dogs and people do! Step outside on any given day that the weather is nice, and you'll most likely see someone walking or jogging with a dog. For most people this isn't an unusual sight, but have you ever considered the idea of walking a cat?

People take their dogs everywhere these days; there are even dog-friendly "yappy hours," (at least there are here in New Orleans,) where Fido can have a non-alcoholic drink and a treat while you get your sip on and enjoy a little grownup time out, so why wouldn't it be natural to give kitty a chance to get out of the house as well?

Petite Pet Care client Prudence at play in the grass.

While some cats will easily walk beside you as you take a stroll (with or without the dog), most will need their own special harness and a little bit of training so that they can feel comfortable and safe at your side. Of course, the harness will also keep them from dashing off after, or away from, other animals.

It will take a little time to leash train your cat, but in the end it will be worth it. Many people feel bad about keeping their indoor cats inside full-time, and leash training is one of the ways to safely let your cat spend some quality time outside. (See the links below for step-by-step instructions on how to train your cat to walk on a leash.)

PPC pet sitting client Pip actively at play.

Just like with dogs, walking isn't the only way to help kitty stay active. Cat's love to play and have the uncanny knack of being able to turn just about anything into a toy, so it's only natural that engaging in interactive play with your indoor cat twice per day is the ideal way to keep her active, fit, and entertained. (See our previous post The Importance of Play and Your Cat.)

PPC client Leroy pausing during play.
Regular aerobic activity will not only keep your feline family member healthy inside and out, it helps to discourage undesirable behaviors. and your play time workouts will strengthen the bond between you. Pet obesity is a huge problem, and regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight. Getting some exercise is especially important for older cats that are not as active as kittens and can lose muscle tone.

PPC pet sitting client Ringo enjoying the outdoors.

Who let the cat out? While some cats regularly go in and out of the house, these are usually not words anyone wants to hear unless you happen to have an outdoor cat run or a kitty condo in the back yard. If you're one of those folks who feels bad about your cat having to be inside all of the time, a kitty enclosure could be just the thing for your fur baby.

Cat condos, or catios, are simple or elaborate enclosures that are screened in to allow your indoor cat to spend time outdoors without you having to worry about safety hazards. The idea is to give your cat enough room to have some space to turn around easily as well as and something to climb. No patio or back yard? You can attach a small box to a window to allow your cat to experience the smells and sounds of nature.

A cat run is a lot like a chicken run. It's basically a low, covered tunnel that allows a cat to roam around an outdoor area and experience being outside without getting into any trouble. The run can be on the ground or attached to the side of a house or fence.

Any one of these measures will do a lot for your cat's quality of life. Don't worry though, if you can't just can't manage to work in two play sessions a day with your cat, you can give us a call!

For more ideas for keeping your cat active, see our Pinterest board, Cat Culture.

Useful links:

Nine Lives, One Leash

Training Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

10 Cat Exercises You Pet Will Enjoy

Exercise Ideas for Indoor Cats

Useful Ways to Help Your Cat Exercise

Easy DIY Cat Enclosure

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Has New Orleans Gone to the Dogs?

For anyone in New Orleans who is not a pet parent, visiting a boutique, coffee shop, cafe, or even a big box store lately, it may seem, as the saying goes, that New Orleans is slowly "going to the dogs." All the things that make the city of New Orleans a great year-round travel destination contribute to making it an even better place to live, especially if you have a dog.

Dogs are no longer "just animals" relegated to the background of our lives. They are cherished family members with an important place at the center of the existence of their humans. As a result, pet parents are looking for more ways to include their fur babies in their active lifestyles.

Dogs have been welcome at Nola coffee houses for some time, and modern pet parents are starting to choose their outings based on where their four-legged family members will be warmly welcomed, as evidenced by comments on sites like Yelp and PetFriendly

Increasingly, more and more New Orleans businesses are allowing people to bring their dogs in with them to dine, shop, and even drink. Everywhere you look these days someone is out in public with their dog.

Window sticker at Santa Fe Restaurant in Esplanade Ridge

The list of dog-friendly venues in New Orleans is surprisingly long; some are well-known such as Dat Dog and the Bulldog, and some fall in the best kept secret category. A few of the places around town to get your caffeine fix with Fido at your side include. PJ.s, Fair Grinds, Morning Call, Croissant d'Or, and CC's.

Pooch patiently waiting for her Dad to return on the Patio at PJ's Maple St.

Many Nola restaurants with outdoor dining happily allow pups on their patios and even set out water bowls for them. In the Warehouse District, Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Grill is not only dog-friendly, it offers a separate dog menu for canine visitors. In uptown, Cafe Freret's A La Collar menu, is vet approved.

Dog treats on the counter at Satsuma on Maple St.

In a place where much of leisure time revolves around drinking, it's no surprise that several bars allow dogs inside. In fact, the phrase, "Yappy Hour," was probably coined right here in New Orleans. We're not sure it's a great idea to bring your dog to the bar with you, but at least in this town in you have options.

Swirl Wines, not exactly a bar, has always been dog-friendly, even before you could purchase wines by the glass, and Leora Madden's own petite pup is often seen running around her Mid-City Pearl Wine Company location.

Shop sign at Swirl Sensational Wines on Ponce de Leon

While there are an abundance of places around town to sit and drink with your pet, probably the best known is The Bulldog where on the third Thursday of each month. 20% of Yappy Hour sales between 5-7pm are donated to a local animal-related charity.

Nola local, Eric James, at the bar with his dog.

Visitors and locals alike are often surprised while out shopping to learn that dogs are allowed in certain stores. Many Nola area businesses keep treats at the counter for visiting pups, including at least one big box store.

Of course, all this begs the question, "Should dogs be allowed?" Not all patrons are as open minded about dogs being out in public, especially at restaurants, so please be considerate. If you do decide to take your dog with you to run errands or have a quick bite, be sure to take them on a long walk first to do their business. You may also want to call ahead and double check that your pooch is welcome, as policies often change.

For more on where you can bring your NOLA fur baby, please see our Pinterest Board, NOLA Local.

Useful links:

Pet Friendly New Orleans Louisiana

Pet Friendly Do's and Don'ts of New Orleans

Dog-Friendly New Orleans

Thursday, July 21, 2016

NOLA Dog Parks Part 2: The Crescent Park Dog Run

In a previous blog post, we took you on a virtual visit to the Wisner Dog Run uptown. As we continue our series on New Orleans' dog parks, this time we bring you across town to one of the city's better hidden gems.

Park side of the "Rusty Rainbow."

Tucked away downtown, between Nola's historic Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods, is Crescent Park. If you didn't know it was there, you probably would never happen upon it. It's not visible from the street, and the only indication of its existence (if you're in the Bywater) is a large, rusty, metal arc, which looks more like something out of an industrial factory complex than the entrance to a beautiful, riverside, urban park.

A portion of the 1.4 mile park (which spans from Elysian Fields Ave. to Mazant St.) opened to the public in February of 2014, which included the renovated Piety Wharf, and a fenced-in, off-leash dog run. At that time the park was only accessible from Piety and Mazant streets. The Marigny end opened in July of 2015, giving visitors full access to the park's 20 acres of carefully planned "native" landscaping and spectacular views of the riverfront.

The "Rusty Rainbow," as the large arc is dubbed, is situated at the Piety St. entrance into the park (accessed from Chartres) and provides pedestrian-only access over the train tracks. It's a bit of a climb, and not the best way into the park for anyone challenged by stairs.

Vehicular parking is available at the Piety entrance as well as at Bartholomew, which is closest to the dog run. (There is also stair access at the Mandeville entrance in the Marigny, as well as an elevator.)

View of the Piety lot with park map

View of the Bartholomew lot at Alvar end.

The actual entrance to the Crescent Dog Run is inside the park at Pauline Street. Cement markers like the one below, are located throughout the park and correspond to the perpendicular streets. These help you to know how where you are in the park in relation to the adjacent neighborhoods.

Of course, the run has a list of rules. The most important of which pertain to the age and health of dogs visiting the park (no puppies under 6 months) and the supervision of children (no kids under 8 years old). Dogs are only allowed off-leash when inside the run. Smoking, alcohol, drugs, and firearms are not allowed inside the run. 

The run has a couple of benches, some grassy areas, and several trees. The trees are still young and don't provide much shade, but there is plenty of room for dogs to roam, explore, and get some exercise.

Fountains are located throughout Crescent Park, as are pet waste stations and bike racks. Unfortunately, the only restrooms are at the opposite end of the park by the Mandeville entrance.

Crescent Park is open from 8 am to 6 pm. During Daylight Savings Time, it stays open until 7:00. Keep in mind, Crescent Park and the dog run are on the other side of the tracks of an active railway line. Be sure to plan visits to allow for the possibility of having to wait for a train to pass.

If you missed our previous post in the series, you can read about it here: 

For more information on the dog run and amenities at Crescent Park, please see the links below:

Instagram Loves the New Crescent Park Addition

Top Dog Park Nominee: Crescent Dog Run

Visiting Crescent Park