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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Why Your NOLA Dog Might Need Additional Walking

One of the great things about New Orleans is that it is green year round, which makes it a great place to walk with your dog. From our gorgeous, oak-lined avenues and grassy "neutral grounds" to our large lush parks, the city provides a wealth of places to get out and give our four-legged best friends a little fun and some exercise.

Parks are a good place to walk because they usually have lots of shade.

Parenting a dog is a lot of responsibility, possibly even more so than raising a human child. Dogs have needs that are not always obvious, and unlike human children, they do not become more independent with age. Properly addressing your dog's needs will ensure you have a healthy, happy, and well-behaved pet.

In providing for their quality of life it's important to make sure that dogs have proper nutrition and daily exercise, as well as mental stimulation. In our previous blog post on Play Time we mentioned some of our favorite toys for entertaining and exercising pets. This month we are focused specifically on dog walking.

One of dog walk clients, Reilly ready to get going.

Many people think of dog walking merely as a time for their pet to "do it's business," and some dogs are actually quite particular about their elimination and won't "go" in their own yards. A quick trip around the block or short stroll through the neighborhood may be the extent of the dog's daily exercise.

Many of us lead busy lives. As a result, some dogs may be let out into the yard while their parent gets ready for work and only walked in the evenings. This may be okay for older dogs or low activity breeds, but most dogs will need a bit more time out of the house, not just for walking, but to explore and play a bit.

Here's our client, Lizzy happily rolling in the grass along Bayou St. John.

While taking a stroll is great exercise for both you and your dog, the benefits of daily walks also include mental stimulation and better socialization. Walk time is also an opportunity to have your dog practice desired behaviors like sitting and calmly waiting for further instructions (or a treat!), as well as how to interact appropriately with other dogs or people.

So how much time should it take? Celebrity Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan recommends setting aside thirty minutes to an hour in the morning for a walk. (Don't have 30-60 minutes in the morning? That's where Petit Pet Care comes in!) Of course the timing and frequency will depend on the age and breed of the dog.

Puppies and young dogs have a lot of energy and getting them out of the house for a stimulating walk keeps them from getting bored or engaging in destructive or otherwise unwanted behaviors. Some dog breeds, regardless of age, such as terriers and those bred for herding need more time outside than others to burn excess energy. These dogs could need up to 60 or even 90 minutes of exercise per day.

Our client, Max on a walk in Uptown New Orleans.

If your dog needs a little more time to burn off energy than a thirty minute walk can provide, you can bring along a favorite fetch toy to throw for them to retrieve. Be sure to bring along a bottle of water and a drinking bowl for your BFF to rehydrate. Also, vary the route of your walk; dogs like a little variety just like people do.

It's important to remember that the physical activity you choose for your dog needs to be appropriate to it's size, age, and breed. While many small breed dogs are prone to obesity, they just aren't made for trotting along beside you on your crosstown bike ride or 20 mile run. If your dog's recommended activity level doesn't match yours, you may want to hire a dog walker. (Fortunately, we can help you out with that!)


As we approach the official start of summer (and hurricane season) we want to remind you to take extra care with all your pets now that The Heat Is On!

For more information on walking and it's benefits to your dog as well as activity needs by breed, see the links below:

The Importance of Walking Your Dog

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

Exercising With Your Dog 101

Exercise Needs (by dog breed)

Dog Breeds Prone to Obesity

Monday, May 2, 2016

Play Time 2016 - Some of Our Favorite Pet Toys

Our pets provide us with countless hours of entertainment as well as a wealth of unconditional love and affection. They are members of the family with their own personalities, and as such we dote on them as if they were human children. Just like human children they tend to have an ever increasing collection of toys in order to keep them busy when we're away, or with which to have fun with us and other members of the family.

Pet toys have come a long way from the random fetching sticks and tennis balls used by previous generations of pet owners. Today's dogs have a variety of assorted toys to play with ranging from stuffies to cuddle with to active toys such as tug ropes, and even other toys to prevent boredom and keep them active when they're home alone.

The photo above is shows one of our canine clients, Jerry Lee, with his Kong, a chew-friendly rubber toy that holds treats (and we know how much dogs love treats). These are great toys to have as the dog has to work a little to get to the treat. Kong toys come in different shapes and sizes, though the Classic is the most popular.

If you put peanut butter inside the Kong, it can keep him or her busy for hours -- perfect for when you're headed out to work or plan to be away from home for a few hours. Just be sure to choose the right size Kong for your dog, it's important that it not be too big or too small. Like any other toy, if it's too small it could present a choking hazard for your dog; likewise, a toy this is too large could frustrate your dog or possibly even cause them to be injured.

Jerry Lee LOVES his Kong! He carries it around with him, and he's learned that if he pushes it off the couch, sometimes a treat will pop out!

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs like to fetch. For dogs who do, it's a great bonding exercise that helps to work off excess energy. The photo just above shows our canine client Max and one of our favorite toys for active play, the Chuckit! ball launcher. The great thing about this low-tech gadget is that it allows you to throw farther, and then you don't have to pick up a dirty, slobbery ball with your hand when it's time to throw again. Also, we prefer rubber balls to fuzzy tennis balls; they throw and roll farther, and wash off easier, and come in different sizes. We also find that dogs prefer the rubber balls over tennis balls as well.

When it comes to play time and cats there's one tried and true item that never seems to fail - the laser pointer. For some reason cats just go crazy trying to catch that little red spot on the floor, and it's hilarious to watch them try. As most pet parents already know, cats will pounce on just about anything that moves, including a foot under the covers. As well, anything that dangles, from the cords to our electronics and appliances, to fringe on anything, or even stray shoe strings, to them is fair game.

While we want our kitties to have fun and keep themselves occupied, we also want them to be safe and healthy at play. As much as cats love any kind of string, balls of yarn (or rubber bands or anything that frays) are a bad idea. If swallowed, yarn can get stuck in their intestines, and if tangled in their claws... ouch!

Above is one of our kitty clients, Harold, with an assortment of cat toys for interactive and individual play. It's important to remember that not all cats will take to all toys; while kittens will play with practically anything, older cats tend to be more discerning. We find Feather Flips to be a real favorite; they are soft and throw well, and cats seem to like the feathers. Feather teasers are also popular. They allow you to play with your cat and avoid being accidentally scratched.

On some levels, when it comes to toys cats are easy to please. Many are happy pouncing on an empty paper towel tube and others will play with wadded up newspaper. Some cats will even play fetch if they have a favorite toy they can chase when rolled or tossed.

Playtime isn't just about keeping your pet (or yourself) entertained. It's an important part of keeping them fit and healthy and providing necessary daily stimulation.

Petit Pet Care Important Pet Toy Tips:

--There should be a variety of toys for solo play as well as for interacting.
--Always make sure toy size and texture are appropriate.
--Regularly inspect all toys to make sure there are no tears or loose parts your pet could swallow.
--Cats and yarn is a big no no.

Remember that ALL pets need toys to provide mental and physical stimulation and alleviate boredom, not just cats and dogs. Ferrets, rabbits, birds, turtles, hamsters...

Visit our Playtime Pinterest board for links to playtime ideas and pictures of some of our furry friends at play with their favorite toys.

More Pet Playtime Resources:

6 Steps to Teaching Your Dog to Fetch

Dog Toys: How to Pick the Best and Safest

Games to Play With Your Cat

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Has Sprung!

It's spring in New Orleans and that means the return of warmer weather, as well as lots and lots of rainy days. It also means the return of mosquitoes and other undesirable insect pests, and because of the unseasonably warm 2015 winter, for many it may also mean battling with a worse than usual allergy season.

Now that we've (hopefully) seen the last blast of really cold air, we can all feel more encouraged to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather, revitalize the garden, and get more exercise with our four-legged friends. For those who suffer with seasonal allergies it's not as easy to get motivated to get up and get out, and parenting a pet with allergies presents a whole other set of challenges altogether.

A common springtime question in garden centers is "what plants are safe/harmful around pets?" While there are a number of plants in the harmful category, the answer really has a lot to do with the age, size, and type of pet you have as well as the amount of plant chewed or consumed.

Because of the multitude of indoor and outdoor plants that can potentially pose a hazard to your four-legged family members, we've begun compiling a resource on Pinterest with links from a variety of sources to provide you with the most comprehensive information available.

Tulips, lilies, kalanchoes, azaleas, oleander, foxglove, and sago palms are just a sampling of common plants that can be poisonous to pets. It should also be noted that many products such as fertilizers and herbicides (including those labeled organic) can potentially be harmful to pets that spend a lot of time outdoors. Remember, pets sometimes groom their paws so anything they step on could end up in their mouths.

Safe garden plants for pets include catnip and mint, basil, marigolds, cornflower, strawberries, coreopsis, and lavender. Indoor plants generally considered safe around pets include ferns, spider plants, African violets, and air plants. Please note that while some plants are safe for dogs, such as certain types of lilies, they are NOT safe for cats. If you have both dogs and cats be sure to choose plants that are safe for both.

As mentioned above, warm weather means the return mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Mosquitoes are known for spreading heartworm, while ticks transmit Lyme and other diseases that affect both pets and people. Fleas can transmit tapeworms, harmful bacteria, and even cause anemia. Check pets regularly for fleas and ticks and take pet-friendly preventive measures to control insects in your yard.

Spring is also the time of cleaning and clearing and you want to be sure that you tackle those tasks with your pets in mind. Don't let a mop bucket lead to a pet emergency, and make sure all cleaners are non-toxic and pet-friendly.

Shedding is one of the most challenging issues when living with a pet as hair gets everywhere, including on visiting guests. Lint rollers, brushes, dryer sheets, and squeegees are some of the tools that can help keep pet hair under control. (See below for specific tips.)

Good weather also means more outdoor partying, and spring is the start of festival season in New Orleans as well. Make sure pets are kept away from all party foods, beverages, and waste, and be sure that any visiting house guests are mindful of potential pet hazards as well.

Happy Spring!

For more tips and info see our Pinterest board, Springtime Pet Tips 

Helpful Links:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Furry Valentine

February in New Orleans is the height of sweet decadent indulgence. First, it's carnival season, and then of course there is Valentine's Day smack dab in the middle of the month. That means after we've consumed our weight in all the delicious (ever-growing) varieties of king cake, those who haven't given up sugar for lent (pshaw!) get started in on the delicious delights of chocolate and all manner of other sugary treats. (We need something to tide us over until Easter, right?)

The problem is, all this decadent delight is dangerous to our furry, four-legged family members. While some baked goods are perfectly acceptable for pets, those containing certain fruits are not. Grapes, raisins, and currants, for instance, can cause kidney failure in dogs, cats, and ferrets. Of course any baked goods containing chocolate such as cookies or brownies are a definite no-no. What makes chocolate toxic to dogs? The same thing that can make it potentially toxic to humans if too much is consumed.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a cardiac stimulant and diuretic. which can have some health benefit to humans, as long as we don't over do it. (Note: While it takes a lot of chocolate, like 100 g, too much theobromine can cause sweating, trembling, severe headache, nausea and anorexia in humans.) Chocolate also contains high amounts of fats (as do nuts!) which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and possibly even pancreatitis.

While it isn't technically a poison, and toxicity depends entirely on the size of your pet, animals are much more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and theobromine than their human companions, and it's better to be safe than sorry.

It's good to remember the darker the chocolate, the larger the amount of theobromine, and while milk and "white" chocolate contain lesser amounts, they still aren't healthy for your pet, so be sure not to leave any of your Valentine goodies lying about where animals can get to them.

Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in gum, candies, and some baked goods, is even more toxic to dogs than chocolate. It can cause the release of  insulin, leading to liver failure, and higher insulin levels can also lead to hypoglycemia. According to Preventive Vet, Xylitol poisoning cases are on the rise, so much so that the FDA issued a warning in 2011 about the danger.

Note: Xylitol is also used to sweeten some peanut butters, so be sure to read the label before giving your pet any of this popular treat.

Other potential Valentine pet hazards include flowers, candles, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages, as well as decorations. Lilies in particular are toxic to cats, as are tulips and other bulbs, and thorns on roses can present problems to paws or injure the mouths of pets that like to chew. Make sure roses have had the thorns removed (petals are okay) and see Teleflora's list of pet-friendly flowers so see which ones are safe for pets.

Each year the ASPCA's poison control experts see a rise in cases around Valentine's Day, where well meaning pet parents have not realized that something harmful, usually lilies or chocolates, was not kept out of reach of Fido or Fluffy. While you and your sweetie are celebrating the season of love don't forget about the other love(s) of your life! Keep pets away from chocolate and other harmful substances! If your pet has consumed something potential harmful, call the ASPCA Poison Control Center Hotline (24hr) 1-888-426-4435 or call or visit your vet right away.

Useful Links:

ASPCA Valentine's Day Safety Tips

Pet-Friendly Flowers and Plants

The Curious (Toxic) Chemistry of Chocolate

5 Valentine's Tips All Pet Families Need to Know

Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter

Lily Toxicity in Cats

Xylitol: The "Sugar Free" Sweetener Your Dog NEEDS You to Know About