Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Survival of the Furriest

In case you haven't noticed, summer is here. It's been so far so good with regard to hurricane season, but that good ole NOLA heat and humidity is making it really tough to want to spend more than a very short time outdoors. This month at Petit Pet Care, we're bringing you tips on how to beat the heat.

Our Client, Bee, ready for fun in the sun.

Take walks early and avoid hot pavement and asphalt. If you wouldn't walk barefoot on a surface, it's probably no good for your pet either. Also, because your BFF is much lower to the ground, those paved surfaces can actually increase their body temperature causing them to get overheated quickly.

Just like in the spring, you'll want to steer clear of areas with tall grass and weeds on your walks; chances are there are parasitic insects hiding there that you don't want hitchhiking back home with you. The same goes for areas near roadside gutters and ditches with lingering puddles and standing water - need we say mosquitoes? After an outing always check between the pads of your pet's paws to be sure there are no pebbles or burrs lodged in them.

Always carry water with you on walks and outings with your Pet. (Did you know July is Pet Hydration Month?) Proper hydration is just as important for your four-legged friend as it is for you, and many pets don't get enough clean water on a regular basis. This means that when the heat starts to climb they are at an even higher risk for dehydration. If your fur baby becomes dehydrated it can lead to a host of serious health problems, including brain damage.

Because your pet's body is made up of 80% water, to stay fully hydrated s/he needs to consume a minimum of one ounce of (preferably filtered) water per pound of body weight on a daily basis. Yep, that's right, daily. If your cat or dog is 20 lbs, for example, he or she needs to consume the human equivalent of 2 1/2 glasses of water per day. (You can also add broth to your dog or cat's diet to help them consume more liquid and stay better hydrated.)

Does your cat snub the bowl in favor of drinking from the faucet? While it may seem cute or curious how much cats seem to love sinks, Fluffy might actually be trying to tell you something. Water bowls should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled daily to avoid the growth of bacteria.


Our client, Gehrig, knows how to stay hydrated.

In managing your pet's exposure to hotter weather it is also important to pay attention to the heat index. The actual air temperature is one thing, but how you and your fur baby experience the heat and the effect it has on you will also depend on how humid it is. For instance, if the air temperature outside is 90 degrees, due to all that added moisture in the air, the feels like temp will be a whopping 132! That's hot enough to cause a stroke.

It's also possible for some animals to be at risk in warm temperatures. Small dogs, for instance, start to be potentially unsafe at a mere 75 degrees; this is because animals are unable to cool themselves in high humidity. When planning outdoor activities always keep in mind the humidity level as well as the air temperature.

We highly recommend not leaving your companion animals outside in the summer heat, and especially not leaving them chained or tethered. If you must leave your pet outdoors for extended periods of time, especially when you're away from home, make sure they have access to shade, as well as a place to be able to get in out of the rain. It should be noted that a dog house does not provide relief from heat.



See also:

Summer Safety Tips

The Heat is On

June Means Hurricane Season - Are You Prepared?



Recommended Links:

ASPCA Hot Weather Safety Tips

How Does The Heat Index Effect My Dog?

Dehydration and Water Needs in Dogs

Pet Hydration Month - Is Your Pet Drinking Enough Water?

Summer Hazards and Your Cat

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Getting Ready to Spring Into the Nola Summer

With just a few weeks left of calendar spring in New Orleans, it's time to talk about one of our least favorite subjects, the return of hot and humid weather and the health concerns that come along with it for you and your pets.

Our client, Sadie, chilling safely indoors.

We seem to have a catch 22 situation going on here in the Crescent City when it comes to our weather; either conditions are too wet - which means lots of mold and ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, or too dry - meaning hot, humid, and without rain. Both these situations are prime conditions for allergens and other health concerns, including and especially fleas.

Even if your fur baby doesn't spend prolonged time outdoors in leafy or grassy areas, chances are you do - and that could mean picking up a hitchhiker in the form of a flea or tick when walking through or brushing up against tall grass or weeds. All it takes is one, and if eggs get inside the house...

Flea bites are a top cause of allergic reactions in pets, and if unchecked can lead to other problems such as dermatitis or even infection. Because bites are not easy to spot on companion animals it's important to check your pets regularly (see the link below), especially if you see an increase in licking, biting or scratching at their skin. Don't forget - fleas can also spread tapeworms so it's important to be vigilant!

Our client, Olive, enjoying some time in the yard.

Hot weather and more mosquitoes mean an increased potential for heartworms. Just because your fur baby stays indoors it doesn't mean they aren't at risk. Every time you enter or exit your home, bring in groceries or packages, hold the door open for a guest... mosquitoes have an excellent opportunity to slip inside - even in a multi-story apartment building. While cats are considered more resistant to heartworm than dogs, not only can they get it, they can develop serious lung issues from it. Worst of all, there is no heartworm treatment for cats.

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) there are more than 70 species of mosquitoes capable of transmitting heartworms, and believe it or not, people can be infected as well. Even though like cats, incidents of heartworms in humans is way less than in dogs, multi-pet households will do well to take preventive measures.

Heartworm facts; click for enlarged view 

Since mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases to humans as well, you'll want to do everything you can to discourage them from visiting your home, but take care using repellent sprays and lotions. The last thing you want is for your fur baby to become a victim of accidental poisoning.

Ticks may not be as big of a threat to indoor animals as fleas and mosquitoes, but they are still of concern to every pet parent of a dog, especially those who take their BFF on outings such as hikes and camping trips. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks carry bacteria that can lead to other illness, and it's possible for a single tick to infect a human or animal - including non-canines - with more than one disease.

Tick populations continue to increase and the CAPC is predicting higher than normal incidents of Lyme Disease for this year. Fortunately there was only one positive case found in Orleans last year, (none so far this year) but the disease was found in a couple surrounding parishes so keep that in mind if planning a hike, camping trip, or other outdoor adventure.

The 2018 CAPC Lyme and Heartworm Disease forecasts. 



Other biting and sucking insects of potential concern to pet parents include lice and mites. Though generally less common of a problem than fleas and ticks, these critters can come into the home as hitchhikers or slip in through cracks on their own. Their effects range from skin irritation to the causing of diseases and transmitting tapeworms.

Our curious clients, Pizza and Sonny, peering outdoors. 

It should be noted that parasitic diseases can be passed on to us accidentally by our own pets as well as strays and ferals through contact with garden soil and sand boxes. Click this link to learn more about two prevalent parasitic U.S. diseases.

Things to remember:

--Use a heartworm, flea & tick preventative monthly to protect your dog or cat. If one brand isn't working try a different one. Talk to your vet about which treatment is right for you pet. The prescription brands, while more expensive, are usually the most effective and safe. 

--Keep pets clean and healthy to lessen their risk of exposure, and never bring a bird's nest found outdoors into the home.

--If your pet is scratching a lot, repeatedly licking and chewing its paws, don't just blow it off; have a look - even if they are not suffering from a parasite reaction/infestation it be sign of an allergy.

--Make your yard less hospitable to ticks by keeping the grass cut and keeping weeds under control.

--By the way, all those feral chickens roaming around the city? They could be carrying bird mites.

--If you live in an apartment building pests can spread to your home from other units.

--While many allergies are seasonal for both pets and people, your fur baby can experience year round symptoms.

--Anything you put on your skin, from sunscreen to mosquito repellent, can end up on your pets as well and even potentially in their mouths.



See also:

Spring Has Sprung

The Heat is On

Springtime Pet Care



Useful Links:

Spring Health Tips

ASPCA's Hot Weather Safety Tips

Favorite Hiding Places of Fleas and Ticks

What Does a Flea Bite Look Like?

5 Ways Indoor Cats Can Get Fleas or Ticks

7 Ways to Mosquito-Proof Your Apartment


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

June Means Hurricane Season - Are You Prepared?



Yes, it's that time again. Though many of us in New Orleans may shudder at the thought post K, living so close to the Gulf Coast means living with the ongoing threat of a "tropical" system occurring being very much of a reality. While the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season is June 1, hurricanes can actually happen at any time of the year.

As stated in our recent newsletter, as we get closer to August and September hurricanes can become more active. Petit Pet Care could potentially be caring for as many as 20 pets on a given day, and in the event of a mandatory evacuation it would be impossible to move them all to safety. It is extremely important that you have a plan in case a storm arises when you are out of town.

It is equally important that you have a storm plan in case a system heads our way that does not require an evacuation. High winds are known to bring down tree limbs and wreak havoc on power lines. It's not unheard of to be without electricity for days after a storm has exited the area.

Our client, Milo, with the hurricane kit his mom put together.

That means that both people and pets could have to suffer through some very hot days and dark nights. Lanterns for each room as well as battery operated fans are must-have. Other important battery operated items include radios and televisions to be able to keep up with weather reports. (Of course you'll need batteries too...)

New Orleans hasn't been directly impacted by a storm since about 2012. This is both a good thing and a bad thing because those who moved to the city post K and have not experienced a storm first hand will not understand the necessity of advance preparation for something that may not even happen. It's important not only to gather supplies, but to do so early in the season so that you don't run the risk of important items being out of stock should a storm threat arise.

Even when there is no tropical system, rainstorms frequently cause flooding and ponding on metro area roads making them impassible. That means that in addition to the possibility of a power outage, you have to plan for the possibility of your route to or from home being inaccessible or even the need to move your vehicle to higher ground temporarily.

Make sure you have several gallons of bottled water for you and your fur babies. If they require medications, make sure you have extra on hand as well as additional food, potty pads, kitty litter - anything you might need if you were cut off from replenishing household supplies for a few days. Be sure to include cleaning supplies in your storm prep shopping.

If for some reason you are out of town when a storm hits arrangements may have to be made to move your pet to safety. Be sure to provide an emergency contact who would be willing to evacuate with your pet should the need arise. If no one is available and Petit Pet Care has to evacuate your pet we will need access to your pet's most recent vaccination records, up-to-date vaccination tags, and their carrier/crate as well. (Note there will be a per pet, per day charge.)

If you are new to the area, or haven't experienced hurricane season with a pet before, you may find the following helpful in the event you have to evacuate:


Pro tips for evacuating with pets:
  • For cats, pick up a couple of disposable litter boxes and make sure to have extra litter.
  • If your pet gets anxious while traveling, talk to your vet about a sedative. Dogs can safely be given Benedryl, but speak to your vet about the proper dosage.
  • Music can help soothe an anxious pet while in the car. Try playing some classical music or something like Frank Sinatra.
  • Keep your cats in their carriers when in the car and transporting. They feel safer in their carriers than loose. If loose in the car, they will try to hide under seats and may bolt once a door is open. Make sure the carrier is big enough for your cat to move around and has a towel or blanket for them to lie on.
  • Make sure your cat or dog has a collar on with their rabies tags and contact info in case they do get lost. Have your pet microchipped if they aren't already. Tags can fall off, so you can try this low-tech trick: write your phone number on the inside of your dog's collar with a permanent marker.

For more tips and information about hurricanes and how to prepare for them, please see our Pinterest board, Hurricane Season and Disaster Preparedness.

Have some tips you'd like to share? Please post them in the comments.


Useful Links:

Red Cross Pet and Disaster Safety Checklist
Get A Game Plan
NOLA Ready
LASPCA Disaster Preparedness



Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Benefits of Hiring an In-Home Pet Sitter

Companion animals aren't just pets, they are part of the family. Unlike the rest of the family though, they tend to spend a lot of their time home alone while everyone else is away at work and or at school. This means they are left to their own devices to get into all manner of mischief until someone returns home to feed, play with, exercise, and entertain them. Even the most loving and well-behaved of pets can engage in less than desirable behavior when left alone for several hours at a time.

Our client, Della waiting patiently by her bowl.

So how can you make sure your fur (or feathered) baby isn't bored or engaging in destructive behavior when you're away from home during the day? Hire a pet sitter! (And we know a really good one!) The average home visit is about 30 minutes. When you schedule a visit from a certified pet sitter to pop in on your BFF during the workday, you're actually providing them with a social life and the necessary stimulation that will help to keep them healthy and happy.

If you're gone for long periods during the day, you really don't want your dog to have to "hold it." It's not any better for their bladder than for yours, and let's face it - being regular and staying healthy means having the opportunity to go as needed. Even a quick let out for bathroom business and the ability to romp around for some brief exercise will go a long way to the quality of your dog's day (and prevent unnecessary accidents for you to clean later.)

Our client, Benjamin, patiently awaiting a treat after a walk.

Cats may seem like finicky loners, but they really do crave affection and attention. A bit of quality time with a trusted caregiver after you've been gone a few hours will go a long way in keeping them out of trouble. Also, cats need regular exercise just as much as dogs do, and even though they can be pretty good at entertaining themselves, it's always more fun to play with a pal than on your own.

Our client, Sidney enjoying a little play time.

There are additional advantages to having someone reliable pop by for a pet play date as well. Your sitter can bring in your delivered packages, administer medications, and send you text updates and photos to provide you with the peace of mind that everything is okay at home. This can be a huge advantage parents of senior pets, those with health concerns, or animals recuperating comfortably at home after minor surgery.

Our client, Olive, in her car seat on the way to daycare.

Petit Pet Care also offers pet taxi service for our established clients to get pups and kitties to their veterinary appointments so moms and dads don't have to miss work to take them. We can also drop your baby off to daycare for you so you can get to work on time. In addition, we offer lockout service for pet parents who have misplaced their keys and can't get into the home back to their babies.

If you happen to be outside our service area, or if your pet is larger than 40 lbs, we will happily refer you to another sitter. Just like a nanny or home health worker, a pet sitter visit provides quality time - play, exercise, stimulation - as well as a second pair of eyes to let you know if anything is amiss with your pet.

For more information about Petit Pet Care's services and pricing, or to book a sit, please visit our website: http://www.petitpetcare.com


Please also see:

What Your New Orleans Pet Sitter Can Do For You


For more information on playtime and stimulation:

The Importance of Play and Your Cat

Playtime 2016: Some of Our Favorite Pet Toys

Friday, March 30, 2018

Lost pets

One of the most stressful and heartbreaking experiences in life is to have a beloved pet go missing. It's an almost daily occurrence though, and fortunately in many instances, the separation is a temporary one, but many times it is not. The good news is the key to bringing a lost pet home safely begins with something as simple as a collar.


It seems just about every other day there is a post on the Next Door website about an animal in the New Orleans area that has been found wandering. The presence of a collar on a four-legged explorer or escapee lets the person encountering them know that the animal is not a stray, but in fact someone's family member.

Did you know that there is a three day hold on "stray" animals brought to the SPCA, but that animals with pet tags are held a mandatory seven days? (Via Parish Ordinance) All the more reason for your furbaby to have both a collar and ID tags. Of course, as mentioned in our previous post on pet microchips, these are just the first step to being able to ID your pet should you somehow be separated from them.

Preventative measures are certainly the best way to avoid having a pet go missing, but what happens when you don't even know your baby isn't in the house? In another recent post earlier this month - this one to Next Door, a family returned home to find the front door open and their dog not at home. A similar post just one week earlier told of a cat that had been let out during a burglary.


How to Find a Lost Cat or Dog - Infographic by Vetstreet

Often the animals are just out exploring (or hiding) nearby and can usually be located by alerting the neighbors, putting up photos, and or posting to social media. Bringing familiar noise-making items along when you search such as favorite squeak toys or treat package wrappers might help your baby find you. Always leave water out, and if it's close to feeding time you might try sitting outside with your baby's food bowl.

If it's been more than 24 hours, you will want to contact the Louisiana SPCA. Just recently the agency shared a post on Facebook about a dog that had been missing for over a month but was able to be reunited with her person due to her mom having filed a report. The sooner you sound the alarm when your baby can't be found, the better!

The LA/SPCA Lost and Found is open Monday - Friday from 9 am - 5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon until 5 pm. If you're unable to file a lost pet report with a photo in person, you can alternatively do so online.

Last month we told you there's an app for that - and apparently we missed one. Finding Rover is a pet facial recognition app you can download for free that helps families become reunited with lost animals. The app can also be used by someone who has found a pet that they would like to reunite with their family member(s). Finding Rover works directly with shelters and adoption centers as well to assist in reunions and adoptions.

We hope you never have to face the stress and heartbreak of a missing pet, but we hope these resources help you to take preventive measures as well as to be prepared should you have to locate a lost animal.


Resources:

LA SPCA Lost and Found

Next Door

Social Media such as Facebook and Instagram

Finding Rover



Useful Links

How to Find Your Pet When They're Lost

8 Things to do if Your Pet Goes Missing

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

There's an App For That Too - Pets


There's an app for that - a phrase you've heard countless times over the years, only now it seems there really is an app for just about everything under the sun, including companion animals. Nothing is more important to devoted pet parents than the health and well-being of their babies. They give them the best of everything they can, and now technology helps take things a step further.

One of Christy's babies, Scout

Most people who are smart phone or tablet users already know that mobile apps can help us get from place to place, exercise, find restaurants, "name that tune," and even chat with friends, but they can also help pet parents gain access to everything from important, life-saving health information to the ability to set up playdates.

If you follow us on Twitter, you'll occasionally see an update that says "Not sure what your pet ate?" with a link to the Pet Poison Hotline. A follower once responded to that tweet that sure you could call, but you'll pay a substantial fee for assistance. Enter the mobile app. At the cost of $1.99, it allows you to get answers quickly when you do know what substance your pet ingested. Internet access is not required to access all features and it also provides one-touch access to the veterinary staff 24/7 if you need it. Unfortunately, it's still only available for ios.


On the other hand, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers a free app that provides quick access to the information pet parents of dogs, cats, horses, and birds need to know about over 300 substances potentially harmful to their babies, as well as a calculator to help determine the health threat based on the amount consumed. Not only is this one free, it's also available for Android devices. We included a link to a review of the app in a previous blog post on pet health care and first aid last summer.


The Red Cross also offers a valuable app pet parents can download for free. Features include access to text and video information for dozens of common pet first aid issues, including instructions for pet CPR, as well as emergency preparedness.




Does your pup like to have fun with other dogs? Meet the social network for your BFF that Barkpost says is reinventing the play, er pupdate. Pupular is a locally created app that helps friendly, outgoing canines connect with other Nola area dogs. The app's creator, Harry Boileau, was inspired by his own dog, Bobbie, who he said is always happier when she gets to have a good play session with another dog.



A "safe, easy, and comfortable way for awesome dogs and their humans to connect and meet up for positive social interactions," the app is only available on ios devices.



Do you have a favorite app that helps you and your fur/feather baby navigate through the week? Leave a comment below and let us know about it!

Apps:


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Yes, It's Winter!

Brrrrrrrr! Fur baby, it's cold outside! New Orleans hasn't seen this much consistent hat, glove, and heavy coat weather in years - so much for mild winters and pets not needing sweaters... if the early cold snap and subsequent bouts of freezing temperatures didn't clue you in, it seems Jack Frost has decided he's been neglecting the Gulf South.

"Sneaux Day" 2018 photo courtesy of Nola harpist Jesse Autumn.

Some animals are perfectly at home in cold weather while others just want to cuddle up someplace warm. Is your BFF showing signs of wanting to hibernate? Refusing to go outside for a potty break? Whining or acting a bit more clingy? There's a pretty good chance they are feeling the cold.

Turning up the heat when you're home is easy enough, but most of us work during the day, and that means fur babies and other companion animals are home alone for several hours with a need to stay warm. Regulating indoor temperatures is easy enough if you have central heat, but for many of those in drafty old houses, space heaters are the norm and that presents a number of potential safety issues from burns to fire.

Christy's Cat Harold doesn't have an undercoat and is not a fan of the cold.

The best way to keep your baby warm when you're away is to take steps to make sure that no heat can escape from their "holding" area. Eventually the inside temperature will drop after you leave as the indoor air starts to fall to match the outdoor air. How soon things change depends on the size of your home and the steps you take to keep winter from creeping in.

If there are drafty areas in your home it's going to be that much harder to keep the temperature indoors above the temperature outdoors. Make sure you've sealed up any problem spots. If possible, close all doors to rooms not in use to help hold the heat in the part of the house where your BFF will be hanging out in your absence.

Since the usual measures to provide extra warmth to your home like space heaters can't be employed when you're not there, your fur baby will need another means of keeping warm. They'll also need to stay hydrated so make sure they have access to water.

PPC client, Brody, cozily snuggled up under a blanket.

Are there areas of your home that naturally stay warmer than others? Place rugs and extra bedding in spots where animals can take advantage full of advantage of their use and limit exposure to cold surfaces such as tile floors. Use draft dodgers, towels or even old sweats at the base of doors to help hold in heat.

As long as the temperature stays at around 40 degrees most house pets will be fine without heat until you return. (Try to not leave them alone for several hours when the indoor temperature can drop below freezing.) Freely roaming animals such as cats and dogs will naturally seek out the warmer spots in your home, but animals in cages will need help from you.

So how can you tell if your home is warm enough? Put thermometers in every room - the old school kind. You'll have instant access to information right at the source when trying to determine which areas stay warmest.

Our client, Girlie, staying warm in her home's linen closet.

Make sure you know what is too cold for your animal to handle. While some pets will be okay if it gets a little chilly, if rabbits get too cold they can experience a life-threatening condition called gastrointestinal stasis. Hamsters will go into hibernation if the room temperature drops too low around them, and that temperature for a hamster varies according to type.

As a precaution, you can place extra nesting materials in a corner of your hamster's cage; if they start to significantly increase the size of it's nest, this is a sign it may be too cold for them. Birds, like animals with undercoats, have layers of feathers that may insulate them, but sudden drastic changes in temperature could cause hypothermia.

Our client, Wolf, sitting on his window seat; note the padding.

Cats will tuck their paws and noses when they are trying to stay warm. Dogs may similarly curl into a ball to try and conserve body heat. Pay attention to your pet's activity and call your vet if in doubt, especially if you see signs of lethargy. As you're trying to provide opportunities for your fur baby to stay warm, be aware that human heating pads are not designed for continuous use and are not recommended for pets. There are, however, self-heating beds and heating pads designed specifically for dogs and cats that are usually incorporated into a bed or a cat "house."

Remember that when you're away you're trying to maintain the temperature that is comfortable for your pet not for you. Just as you don't want to expose them to temperatures that are too cold, you don't want to overdo it either. Air that is too warm and too dry can actually cause skin or respiratory problems.

If your dog or cat wears a sweater to stay warm, make sure to have more than one on hand. If the sweater gets wet for any reason it can lose its warming effect. Having an additional sweater will allow your baby to stay warm while the wet one dries. Even with the sweater you'll still want to leave rugs or mats for them to lie on to avoid losing body heat. Lying on the bare, cold floor can expose them to hypothermia.

For more info on taking care of pets in winter, see our Pinterest board, Winter Pet Care.

Useful links:

Cold Weather Pet Safety

How to Keep Your Indoor Cats Comfortable During the Winter

How Cold is Too Cold for Your Dog?

Ideal Temperature Ranges for Parrots

9 Ways to Keep Your Home Warm Without Turning Up the Heat