Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April - LASPCA profile & Pet days

Spring is a very busy time in New Orleans with an increase in outdoor activities, including a plethora of festivals. For many it's also allergy season, and this year the oak trees were producing super early because of the lack of any real winter weather.

For pet parents, the month of April is also chock full of special awareness days for the health and safety of fur babies, including the ASPCA's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, The Red Cross' Pet First Aid Awareness Month, as well as The American Heartworm Society's Heartworm Awareness Month.

It may seem silly to have a bunch of "made up" holidays dedicated to animal welfare, but these are all very important issues for everyone as information such as dog bite prevention (awareness dates for 2017 were April 9-15) has an impact on all members of a community.

While April seems to be the unofficial kickoff to festival season locally, two events this month included fur babies - The Freret Street Festival and the LASPCA's Brunch Fest. Petit Pet Care's Christy Bracken Hackenburg took part in the Freret Street Festival (held the first Saturday of the month), handing out treats and helping pups cool off at the Doggie Pit Stop.

Remember when we asked Has New Orleans Gone to the Dogs? Anyone visiting our city during this month could easily think so. Brunch Fest, a fund raiser for the LASPCA, was originally intended to be held in March, but had to be rescheduled to April 22 because of bad weather. Leave it to New Orleanians to turn festing into a fur baby pastime.

As mentioned above, April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Would you know what to do if your pet had a first aid emergency? Christy is Red Cross certified for cats and dogs in both first aid and CPR, but for those times in between sits, we've compiled information on a number of  topics to help maintain your fur baby's well-being on our Pinterest board, Pet Health and Safety.

For Heartworm Awareness Month, the American Heartworm Association wants you to know that heartworm is a serious concern for both dogs and cats that threatens their health in just about every state in the U.S. (It's an issue outside the states as well.) Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, and millions of dogs are known to be infected

The top five states for infection in 2016 were Mississipi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee. On the gulf coast we know all too well what a nuisance mosquitoes can be. In addition to talking to your vet about preventive care, be sure there aren't any areas around your home where standing water can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

It is also Lyme Disease in Dogs Prevention Month. Most people know that lyme disease is carried by ticks. Specifically, it's cause by a bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi; an infected tick can transmit the disease within 12-48 hours, though symptoms may not show for 2-5 months. Keep grass cut and check your BFF thoroughly after spending time in wooded areas. See the link below for more information on Lyme Disease and prevention.

National Pet ID Week is designated for the third full week of April. A disturbing number of pet parents do not put ID tags on their pets. Even if your fur baby stays indoors or is never off-leash, things happen and you need to be sure they can be recovered.

If you follow Petit Pet Care on Facebook and Instagram, you've no doubt seen the "Cute Pet of the Day" and other photos posted. Christy has long had a love for photography and regularly volunteers at the LA-SPCA here in New Orleans photographing pets that are up for adoption.

The Louisiana SPCA has been committed to animal welfare since 1888. It is the oldest organization protecting companion animals in the state, and besides offering animals for adoption, engages in a variety of programming including a community clinic, pet lost and found, humane law enforcement, and a feral cat program. They also provide training assistance and conduct workshops to assist in improving the lives of animals and their humans. Recently we've been sharing weekly dog training tips from the LASPCA on our Facebook page.

While the SPCA's mission is year-round, April has been designated to amp up efforts to prevent animal cruelty across all communities. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month is a time for supporters of animal rights to make a collective effort to raise awareness about the important issues related to animal welfare.

Three other important pet days in April are International Guide Dog Day, celebrated the last Wednesday; Hairball Awareness Day, celebrated on the last Friday; and National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, celebrated on April 30.

As we said, April is a busy month! How did you spend National Pet Day? Comment below and let us know!

Helpful links:

April: Pet First Aid Awareness Month

Protecting Your Pet From Lyme Disease

National Pet ID Week: Everything You Need to Know About Microchipping

Louisiana SPCA

Heartworm Basics

Monday, March 27, 2017

What Your New Orleans Pet Sitter Can Do For You

Our furry family members hold an important place in our lives and taking care of their needs is a top priority. Unfortunately, because many pet parents are forced to spend much of their day away from home due to work and other obligations, their babies are often left unattended for hours on end without entertainment. This is where having a pet sitter to call on can come in handy.

Is your fur baby getting enough quality time? These days most of us have come to realize that having a pet at home involves quite a lot more than just feeding, occasional bathing, and picking up after an animal. We understand that dogs, cats, and other cuddly critters have some of the same need for stimulation that their human caregivers do. They crave attention and affection, and keeping them active is important to both their physical health and emotional well-being.

Our client, Harold, enjoying a good head scratch.

Having an insured pet sitter visit your home at least once a day while you're working ensures that your fur baby avoids boredom - and doesn't engage in destructive behaviors. It will also keep your BFF from being too sedentary - which can lead to obesity and other unwanted health issues.

In New Orleans, Petit Pet Care provides in home service to households with "petit" pets up to 40 lbs. Dog walking services are available in the morning, afternoon or evening, and pet sitting services are provided 7 am to 7 pm all seven days of the week. Insured and bonded, we are members of Pet Sitters Associates, and we're Red Cross certified in dog and cat first aid as well as pet CPR.

Our client, Benson, after returning from a walk.

Many pet parents work full-time jobs and are up and out very early in the morning on weekdays. That can mean a quick let-out in the morning with your pup is all there is time for. Having a professional pet sitter come over to walk and play with your BFF is a great way to make certain he won't have to wait all day to relieve himself again, and he'll get to have fun and even enjoy some beneficial exercise.

Hiring an in-home caregiver is an especially good idea for those living in apartment buildings without the benefit of a real back yard. Your New Orleans pet sitter can pick up your dog while you're at work and take him to City Bark or one of the other local off-leash dog parks for a good tiring out. As everyone knows, a tired dog is a better behaved dog.

Our client, Tillie, looks suspicious because she knows her pill is coming. 

Older pets in particular, and those with special needs, can especially benefit from the personalized care a professional, in-home pet sitter provides. At Petit Pet Care we have experience caring for pets with medical needs and can administer your pet's topical and oral medications, as well as insulin injections.

In-home pet sitting isn't just for when you're at work. In the event that you have to travel, in-home sitting offers a number of advantages over boarding. Your fur baby gets to stick to her routine in her own familiar surroundings where she's most comfortable and be a lot less stressed while you're away. In addition, you get the peace of mind of knowing she won't be exposed to any of the potential risks that can come with kenneling.

Our client, Olive, taking advantage of pet taxi service.

Petite Pet Care doesn't do pack walks; that means your pet gets our full attention. We also provide additional services for our established clients such as pet taxi and lockout assistance. On extended sits we also bring in mail, water plants and will turn lights on and off as needed.

For more information on our dog walking and pet sitting services please visit our web site.

Useful links:

The Benefits of Hiring a Pet Sitter

What to Expect From Professional Pet Sitters

Choosing a Pet Sitter

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Benefits of Regular Grooming For Your Cat

Many pup parents frequently take their fur babies in for regular grooming, and for even more, regular baths at home are the norm, but what about feline family members? Cats spend quite a lot of time grooming themselves in the course of even a single day so it might be surprising to learn that they can actually benefit substantially from a little assistance by you.

If the idea of grooming a cat seems funny or foreign then consider this: Regular grooming is the best way to prevent hairballs. It promotes healthy skin, helps manage shedding and dander, prevents mats and tangles for long haired cats, and circumvents the digestive problems (and vet bills) associated with those nasty, dreaded trichobezoars (the technical term for hairballs) -- and that's just for starters.

So just exactly what is involved in grooming a cat? Regimens will vary slightly according to cat breed and age, but essentially, tending to coats, skin, claws, and ears monthly, weekly, or even daily is what's needed. Cats can be groomed at home or taken to a professional. Keep in mind that older cats and those in a single cat household will need a little extra help with the areas they can't reach themselves.

Our Clients Bean and Cosmo helping each other out with grooming tasks.

Most cats have a double coat. That means they have a layer of short hairs as well as another of longer hairs that are different textures and serve different functions. Indoor-only cats tend to shed a bit year-round, so it's a good idea to brush them regularly to keep hair from ending up everywhere from in their gut to all over your clothing and furniture.

Short hair cats can benefit from weekly brushing while long haired cats will need it more often - like daily. You can even follow up a good brushing with a few passes from a wipe/moist towelette to get at any remaining hairs. Be sure to choose the right brush for the type of coat that your cat has, and keep in mind that brushing also promotes good skin health.

In addition to regular brushing, some cats will actually benefit from an occasional bath. While it's generally thought that cats naturally loathe water, the truth is that many don't mind it all. If your cat is young, affectionate, and/or likes attention, chances are bath time will go over a lot easier with them.

Our Client Mina thinks water is for playtime.

The good news though is that baths are rarely necessary - only when kitty has gotten into something sticky, smelly, greasy, super dusty, or something you wouldn't want her to try and lick off. Of course if kitty spends time outdoors this will increase the chance of her getting dirty and possibly needing a wash.

A dip in the tub could also be in order if your cat is older and can no longer reach everywhere as easily. Be sure to check the backside of fur babies with long hair for "leftovers"... If the time comes where you've determined your feline friend does indeed need a bath, be sure to only use cat approved shampoo as anything else can be too drying to their skin.

Bath or no bath, when it comes to grooming your cat you will actually want to start with their claws, especially for felines not used to a grooming regimen. Cats need to scratch and claw to maintain their nails so you can proactively protect your rugs and furniture by helping them out with a regular mani-pedi.

These sweet little paws belong our client Gherig.

An added benefit to regular nail maintenance is that it allows affectionate kitties to play with you and put their paws on you without snagging your clothing or accidentally clawing and scratching up your skin. It will also make any visits to the vet easier and safer. By no means should you ever declaw a cat.

If you're not squeamish, you can learn to clip the tip of kitty's nails yourself, taking special care to avoid the quick (that pink area). You'll want to clip only the tip, and at just the right angle; here's a great youtube video from PetCo that demonstrates how to give kitty a nail trim.

Does your kitty have any extra toes? Polydactyl cats in particular will need a regular nail trim to protect their paws from ingrown nails. Kitties with extra toes need to be monitored carefully so they don't incur injury, and in some cases poly cats may need their extra claw removed (not a declawing) in order to prevent infection and trauma.

Our client, David, is a polydactyl.

In between nail trims it's also a good idea to regularly inspect paw pads for cuts or other issues, and you might give them a wipe periodically as well. After all, kitty spends a lot of time walking around the house barefoot.

Cleaning your cat's ears is something you won't have to do often, but they should be checked regularly to be sure kitty doesn't have any ear health problems. Examine the outer area first and call your vet if you see anything out of the ordinary such as bald spots or sores. If kitty's ears are a little dirty they can be cleaned easily with a moist cotton ball.

Never use cotton swabs inside, and unless you have experience cleaning your cat's ears, it isn't a good idea to try an ear solution. Extensive cleaning is best left to your vet, especially if your cat is a little older and not accustomed to grooming. To get your fur baby used to having her ears handled, you may want to start my gently massaging them. In addition to looking clean, a healthy ear should smell clean. If there's any doubt, check with your vet.

In addition to the overall health benefits, grooming provides an opportunity to examine your cat for any possible skin conditions, lumps, bumps or insects. It's also a great way to to bond with your fur baby and show affection.

For more information on grooming and other aspects of cat care, be sure to check out our Pinterest board: Cat Culture

Useful links:

Health Benefits of Grooming Your Cat

A Cat Parent's Guide to Grooming

Cat Grooming Tips from the ASPCA

Different Strokes for Different Coats

Tips For Preventing and Treating Hairballs in Cats

How to Best Take Care of Cat Claws

Safe Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat

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