Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Roundup of New Orleans' Dog Parks

New Orleans is a great city to be in if you're a pet parent to a dog. It's green all year long and there are a number of great places to walk, run, and explore. That last one is really key to a canine - explore. We all know there's nothing dogs like to do more than get out of the house and investigate. Fortunately there are now a growing number of officially sanctioned places in New Orleans where our four-legged BFFs can explore to their heart's content off-leash.

City Bark Off-Leash Dog Park

Over the past two years we've been taking you virtually to the area's off-leash dog parks. After hurricane Katrina, there was an ambitious plan by city officials to create as many as twenty parks across town; that plan was reduced significantly, but so far only a few have been realized. Of the four Orleans parks we visited, only three were city projects.

Earlier this year reported a series of meetings had taken place between NORDC officials and residents in the French Quarter and Irish Channel about developing dog runs in those areas. While a dog run isn't quite a dog park - a park requires an area of at least one acre, having a place in one's own neighborhood to let Rover romp freely, is still highly beneficial - to all residents.

When we started posting about Nola's dog parks, it was with the intent to start with the smaller parks/runs, work our way up to the largest, and then subsequently compare and contrast the features of each. While there are a a handful of other dog parks in the area besides the ones we've covered, they are not in Orleans Parish and therefore out of Petit Pet Care's service area.

Crescent Park Dog Run in Bywater

One concern when taking your animal to the dog park is the size and behavior of other dogs. Even if large breed dogs are friendly they can still intimidate, antagonize, or even injure a smaller breed dog while off-leash. Of course it's helpful if a dog park has a separate area for large and small dogs. One of the advantages of Little Paws, the small, private citizen developed, neighborhood "park" in the upper ninth ward, is that it is only intended for use by small dogs. This advantage doesn't mean anything, however, if you live completely on the other side of town.

Unfortunately, neither the run at Wisner uptown or the one at Crescent Park downtown have a separate area for small dogs. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed as more parks/runs are added across town. Both have rules posted for the runs, but seem to work on an honor system, whereas the key-card-access-only City Bark is diligent in being sure all park rules are observed.

Though located in a very nice, well landscaped, 1.4 mile space, the fenced dog run at Crescent Park only has a couple of benches and no real shade. Also, the run is at one end of the park and the public restrooms are at the other. Woops. It does have bike paths though, an advantage for those who ride with their dogs running alongside them. All the parks offer complimentary pet waste bags and at least one drinking fountain, however Wisner does not have restrooms.

Little Paws small dog park.

It's almost unfair to compare the smaller parks/runs with City Bark, which has plenty of space and lots of trees, as well as shade pavilions. To put it in perspective, a minimum of one acre is required to qualify as a dog park vs a dog run. The fee-based City Bark is almost five acres, naturally it has the best amenities.

Remember that ambitious city plan that had to be scaled back? While the planners' collective eyes may have been larger than the budget, there is also another problem - available land. It seems to make sense to continue adapting existing park/playground spaces to accommodate dogs - on and off-leash. However, every time there's a meeting to discuss giving citizens what they want, the park/run plans are met with opposition.

If you search online for dog parks in New Orleans many web sites list at least five facilities; not all of these are actually in Orleans parish. Some of them, like Markey Park in the Bywater and the levee uptown near audubon were utilized by dog owners, but were never actually sanctioned as off-leash parks. According to Yelp reviews, off-leash dogs are no longer allowed at Markey Park or Cabrini Park in the French Quarter. The reality of the situation is that they never legally were.

The Dog Run at Wisner Park

"The Dog Levee" uptown is not only not a sanctioned off-leash dog park, but it is neither a public park, or an off-leash area for dogs. The city's ordinance clearly states that all dogs must be on a leash at all times unless they are in a fenced off area. That includes dogs at home or walking through their own neighborhoods.

Why is that important? The controversy over dogs parks has escalated to the point of a security detail being hired to enforce the rules at Cabrini park. Rules that residents complain aren't being followed at other facilities across town, which is the main objection to adding dog areas to existing parks.

With only three true "officially sanctioned" off-leash facilities for dogs, the presence or absence of amenities isn't really the issue. The planning commission did vote last year to add a run to Cabrini Park, and they are working on adding an area to Annunciation Park. Until funds are raised for the former and objections are settled for the latter, residents will have to continue to make do with only three public places in Orleans Parish for dogs to safely and legally be off-leash.

So which of the existing three parks/runs is best for you and your BFF? City Bark has the most amenities, hands down. Of course, it requires purchase of a permit, and depending on where you live it may not be the most conveniently located.

Another perspective:

Guide to Dog Parks and Runs in the New Orleans Area

Previous dog park posts:

A Glimpse at the Dog Run at Wisner Playground

NOLA Dog Parks Part 2: The Crescent Park Dog Run

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

Frolic Under the Oaks: New Orleans City Bark

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Truth About Black Cats

It's October in New Orleans and that means transitioning to fall weather and routines, the impending end of longer daylight hours, and the kick off to the holiday season with the arrival of Halloween. Pumpkins are making their way onto porches and front steps around town while skeletons and the like are popping up on lawns of particularly enthusiastic households.

This time last year we talked about Feline Fitness and posted information on Fall Pet Health and Safety shortly after in November. While autumn specific topics and holiday safety are still very important issues which we can't say enough about, we thought we'd focus this month's blog post on an age old October icon - the black cat. Celebrated in some cultures, maligned in others, human history with black cats goes way back - at the very least, all the way back to ancient Egypt.

Christy's cat Gonzo regally reclining.

For centuries black cats have been at the center of an array of superstitions and blamed for any number of maladies from deadly plagues and night dangers to flat out human "bad luck." Somewhere in the Middle Ages (mid fourteenth century) in Europe black cats began to be associated with fairies and witchcraft. As a result, a plethora of misinformation as well as widespread fears has led to a host of inhumane horrors, including the persecution of caretakers of these poor humble felines.

The irony in this is that in many European countries, black cats are actually symbols of good luck. In Scotland, for example, (home of the soul stealing Cat Sith legend) black cats are a sign of prosperity. In parts of England, black cats are considered a bridal good luck gift. Also, English sailors once found black cats to be so lucky that acquiring one became cost prohibitive and their offspring were sometimes victims of kittnapping.

Our client, Merlin perched atop his tower.

Black cats get their coloring from a pigment called eumelanin. However, the dominant fur pattern in cats is tabby; that means in order for a cat to be born "truly black," both its parents have to have the dominant color gene. Interestingly enough, more black cats tend to be born male than female.
The earliest "domesticated" cats, descended from the African Wildcat would likely have had tabby markings like their ancestors. That would have made the first occurrences black cats pretty special.

In ancient Egypt (around 3100 BC) black cats were revered and kept as pets as an homage to the goddess Bastet. These beauties (and all other cats) were held in such high regard that it was even illegal (a capital offense, no less) to intentionally kill a cat. Of course their excellent abilities in pest control were of huge benefit as well to keep such undesirable critters such as rodents and snakes out of food stores and from threatening human life as well.

Our client, Nubba.

Asia has its fair share of ideas about cats and luck as well. For instance, it's believed in Japan that single ladies who keep a black cat companion will attract more than their fair share of suitable mates. In Chinese Feng Shui, placing your black cat's bed in the north portion of your home can ward off evil.

Ever wonder about those waving cat figurines in Japanese restaurants? Maneki Neko lucky "fortune cats" come in a number of colors (each with a different meaning) with the black ones being used to ward off all manner of evil, including stalkers. Have a friend who's allergic? Send some luck their way with a black cat figurine.

Our client, Stumpy, apparently aghast.

The most common/easily recognized black cat breed is probably the Bombay. Of the twenty-two breeds of cats than can possibly have a coat of black fur, this yellow-eyed hybrid beauty, nicknamed the "parlor panther" is the only breed of which there are only black cats. It may surprise many to learn that black cats are believed to have a better immune system than their otherwise colored counterparts. In fact, their genes may some day help solve some of the medical problems associated with human health.

Since it's October and the month of Halloween, we'd be remiss in not mentioning that according to, black cats are still the number one costume choice for elementary aged school girls as well as college freshmen. If you have little ones at home (the two-legged human variety), cater to trick-or-treaters, or plan on entertaining grown up style, be sure to keep alcohol and sweets - especially chocolate, out of reach of your fur babies.

Being that we're also a few weeks into autumn, we'd also be remiss in not mentioning that fleas reach their height at this time of the year. As the weather changes so do concerns for fall allergies, acorns, and other potential hazards. For information on fall pet care be sure to see our Pinterest board, Autumn Pet Care.

Useful links:

5 Pawsitively Fascinating Facts About Black Cats

8 Hair-Raising Facts About Black Cats

Black Cat Breeds and History

The Mystique Behind Black Cats

7  Ways Black Cats Bring Luck Around the World

Friday, September 29, 2017

Nola's House Call Veterinarians

An animal doctor that makes house calls? You bet! The greater New Orleans area now has a number of veterinarians that will come to you in your time of need to treat your pet with a range of services from annual exams to vaccinations, and even hospice-type care.

This growing trend in pet health care is a huge advantage for non-drivers and others who have difficulty getting their animals to a veterinary office. It is also of particular benefit for households which have multiple pets. Older animals, particularly those that are arthritic and have difficulty getting in and out of a vehicle can benefit immensely from a vet that comes to them instead of the other way around.

Any number of things from illness to managing kids, to tight work schedules can make it difficult to get an animal to a non-emergency clinic appointment in a timely manner. Having the option of your pet being seen at home is more than just convenient, it's practical and efficient.

Visiting a patient in the comfort of their own abode allows the vet to get a firsthand look at the home environment and easily asses lifestyle, usually at a time that is more convenient for the pet parent. Not having to struggle to get an animal into the car, and then inside a veterinary clinic in turn, makes the house call option a lot less stressful for everyone as well.

House call veterinarians tend to have more flexible schedules than clinic-only pet doctors. Because they work solo or within smaller practices, you and your animal will most likely see the same care giver at each appointment.

Ready for a veterinary house call visit? (See the sampling of local providers below.) Confine your four-legged child to a small area such as a bathroom just before their scheduled appointment. This will save time as you won't have to spend the beginning of the session corralling them. Budget an additional thirty minutes in your calendar just in case your care provider gets delayed in traffic (or Nola street construction!)

New Orleans area mobile vets:

Metairie Small Animal Hospital

Canal Street Veterinary Hospital

Fur de Lis Mobile Veterinary Service

Healthy Paws Mobile Veterinary Service

Pamela Doskey Mobile Vet - Gretna

For more information on pet health and veterinary care, please be sure to see the Petit Pet Care Pinterest boards, Pet Health and Safety.

Useful links:

Is a House Call Vet Right for You?

Heals on Wheels

Mobile Veterinary Service For Dogs and Cats

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pet Microchips: What You Need to Know

August 15 is National Check The Chip Day, so this month on the Petit Pet Care blog we're providing you with the information you need about pet microchipping. If your fur baby already has a chip, now is the time to be sure your registry info is up to date. If your four-legged (or feathered) family member doesn't yet have a chip, read on - there are a number of good reasons for you to consider getting one.

It's a pet parent's worse nightmare - a fur baby gone missing. No one wants to ever be in that position and yet thousands of families experience this heartbreak every year; in fact, it is estimated that somewhere a pet is lost every seven seconds. Thankfully, technology has a solution that can help return lost animals safely to their homes.

A door or gate left ajar, even an open car window can provide an easy escape for a curious pet to dart out and to take off - usually to give chase after another animal, and end up well away from home. All it takes is a split second when no one is looking for a beloved family pet to slip out of eyesight or even be snatched up by someone.

Heartbreaking, stressful, traumatic, frightening, and yet preventable. Microchips are implantable computer chips that transmit an encoded number to a special scanner that allows a pet to be easily identified. They take moments to insert under the skin and last for the lifetime of your pet.

While many have questioned the health safety to animals of microchipping, it is a widely held belief in the veterinary medical community that the risk of cancer from chip implantation is "very, very low," and that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The process is quick and fairly simple; a vet places a tiny microchip about the size of a grain of rice under the animal's skin with a needle. It should  not cause your pet any more pain than receiving a vaccine. After implantation, you register the chip, which contains a special digital number that can be used to identify your pet and obtain your contact information.

Here's a great video from ExpertVillage with Jenn Fadal explaining all about the microchipping process:

According to the ASPCA, lost cats are less likely to be found than dogs. In a study conducted by the agency, it was determined that 15 percent of found dogs had been located through their implanted chips. Microchip ID Systems, Inc. claims that over 38 percent of cats and and 52 percent of dogs in shelters found to have chips have been reunited with their caregivers.

Dogs and cats are not the only animals which can be microchipped. Fish, ferrets, horses, alpacas, birds, even laboratory and zoo animals such as elephants and snakes can and do get chipped. If you travel with your companion animal(s) regularly, you will more than likely want to get them implanted with a microchip. In some countries, it is actually now a requirement that animals be chipped.

More and more, microchips are becoming an important identification tool for pet parents. Collars break, tags get lost, but chips are long lasting and the cost has gone down (on average around $10), making them more affordable. Chips are quickly becoming an essential part of disaster preparedness as well.

While chips and scanners can be purchased online, implanting them is not something that can or should be done casually. Believe it or not, anyone can learn in a brief online course how to implant a microchip. However, the only way to be sure a chip is implanted properly - and therefore will not migrate or cause problems - is to have it done by a vet or properly trained shelter personnel.

Because your fur baby's safety is paramount, always ask about credentials, and always choose an experienced hand. An improperly implanted chip can be difficult to get a read from in addition to causing unwanted medical problems. And again, once a chip is implanted it absolutely must be registered.

Microchips do not replace collars and tags, and most importantly they are not lowjack. They don't work with GPS, but they can interact with pet doors and feeding dishes to allow pets a little more independence.

If ever you misplace your microchip paperwork or number, all you will need to do is have your vet scan the chip to recover the digital ID number. You can then input the number in the online lookup tool for a national registry such as AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup to find out which company your chip is registered with. Note that you will have to contact that company directly.

While most shelters now have universal scanners to detect the three main chip frequencies commonly used in the United States, it is still possible for there to be an error reading a chip. Microchips are built to last 25 years, but like all things, it's possible for them to fail and that is how "Check the Chip Day" came about.

In New Orleans, the Louisiana SPCA is holding a Walk-in Microchip Clinic on Saturday, August 19, 2017, from 12-4 pm. They will implant chips for $10 or scan existing chips free of charge. If you would like more information on the clinic, you can visit the Facebook Event, or call 504-368-5191.

Even though microchips are an important means of protecting your four legged family member, a collar is still the best way for someone to identify that he or she belongs to someone should s/he somehow get away from you. And while a chip is one important tool in your toolbox, it should be noted that merely having a chip does not provide proof of ownership of an animal.

Useful Links:

Microchipping 101: Why is it Important to Microchip My Pet?

How Safe Are Pet Microchips?

Do Microchips Migrate?

The Facts About Microchipping Your Dog

Keep Your Microchip's Info Up-to-Date

Bonus Benefits of Microchipping Your Pet

Free Pet Chip Registry

HomeAgain National Pet Recovery Database

Sunday, July 30, 2017

In Case of Emergency - Pet First Aid

An injured paw, an open wound, an allergic reaction; these are just a few of the potential situations you might encounter with a pet that would require immediate action. What would you do? Would you know how to administer first aid? Having a basic knowledge of pet first aid procedures and how to perform them could reduce the severity of an incident and even mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged (or other) family member.

Christy's kitten, Scout.

In last month's pet health and safety post, June Means Hurricane Season - Are you Prepared?, we focused on the steps you should take to be ready should a storm impact you and your pet. Taking things a step further, this month we want to focus specifically on what to do if your pet gets hurt - information that is applicable at any time of the year. (Next month we'll take it a step further and explore pet microchipping.)

Pet injuries and illnesses present a unique problem since we cannot talk to them to discern what's wrong or ask them if or where it hurts. Some things are easy to detect, such as a bleeding cut or wound, or obvious limping. Handling an incident that will require giving your pet first aid begins with preparation and prevention.

According to Squad FiftyOne, the ten most common pet emergencies are: dog bites, allergic reactions, poisoning, blunt force trauma, coughing and choking, vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty urinating, seizures, difficulty breathing, and pain. It's important to know how to assess, treat and stabilize your pet ahead of time. Be sure to check for house call veterinarians or 24-hour emergency animal hospitals in your area and keep the telephone number(s) handy. (The side of the fridge, your car's visor or glove box, and your mobile phone are good places.)

Make sure your home is safe and free of potential dangers as much as possible by following the steps in American Humane's online fact sheet, Pet-Proofing Your Home. Next, purchase or assemble a first aid kit with pet-friendly items such as gauze, tweezers, and antibacterial cream. (See the ASPCA graphic below for additional kit items.) Depending on the size and breed of your fur baby, you may need a specialized kit such as those manufactured for small or large breed animals.

If your dog regularly rides in your car, make sure it won't become an accident zone. Keep him or her properly restrained and make sure there are no poison or choking hazards. Many of us lead rather busy, very active lifestyles and our vehicles can contain workout gear, tools, even the remains of meals on the go. According to the article, Common Pet Toxins in Your Purse, Backpack or Gym Bag, 50% of pet poisoning calls are due to exposure to human meds such as antidepressants and OTC pain killers.

Getting in and out of a car or truck, especially one that is high off the ground, could lead to strains or sprains, especially in older dogs. (Be sure to check paws thoroughly after being outdoors.) Something as simple as forgetting to cover the well for the spare tire could lead to a sprain or even a cut paw before you've even started the engine to go anywhere. Always check the interior before letting your dog jump into your vehicle.

Paws can become cracked and dry or sustain cuts, and foreign objects can become lodged in between the pads. The best treatment for dry or cracked paws is prevention; check paws regularly and apply paw balm as needed. Never use human hand moisturizer on dry paw pads.

When it comes to taking care of small cuts on your dog's paw, Web MD suggests cleaning with antibacterial wash and then covering the foot with a bootie. Don't use peroxide or alcohol, as these can potentially cause tissue damage.

Our client, Ramona, after injuring her foot.

A simple slip or fall, or even normal jumping during active play can cause strain to your pet. Muscle sprains are a common puppy injury; while trauma is often the cause, they can easily over exert themselves or become injured during rough play. Knowing the symptoms and causes of sprains (and the difference to a strain) will ensure your pup avoids injury (as much as is realistically possible) and receives proper care should something happen.

Soft tissue trauma can also occur in cats, especially in kittens that don't yet know their limits. Just because a cat can leap like a Superhero, it doesn't mean it should. All that jumping leads to heavy landing that can potentially cause sprains, strains and pulled muscles. Make sure cat towers are safe and try to discourage high climbing for kittens and senior cats.

If you think your fur baby has suffered a strain or sprain, call your vet immediately to find out if you can take care of the situation at home with anti-inflammatory meds and bandaging, or if you need to bring them in to be examined in person.

Did you know the Pet Poison Helpline answers over 100,000 calls annually from frantic pet parents whose animals have become victims of accidental overdose or toxic substance poisoning? There are a plethora of human foods and medications, house and garden plants, cosmetics, cleaning products, and other common chemicals in our everyday lives that are poisonous to pets lurking in homes, cars, and even suitcases that can lead to an emergency situation.

Please be aware that there is a $59 USD per incident fee if you call the helpline.

It's important to note that poisoning can result from inhalation and absorption as well as ingestion. Symptoms are not always obvious, and the treatment window for poisoning is very small, so once again, prevention is the best option. Animals can't be watched 24/7 so knowing the signs of poisoning is extremely important.

Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of coordination, respiratory distress, drooling, twitching, tremors, and seizure in dogs and cats are all possible signs of exposure to a toxin. If you know what substance your pet has ingested, you may be able to get answers to your emergency quickly via your mobile phone with the Poison Helpline app.

Download the Pet Poison Helpline app (itunes) to instantly access a database of common household toxins from foods to chemicals that are poisonous to pets. The app also provides one-touch direct dial contact to the 24/7 Helpline's veterinary professionals. The ASPCA also has an app (an Android version is available for this one), you can read more about it here. Note that there is also a cost associated with calling their helpline.

One of the most difficult health emergencies is a non-responsive pet. The iheart dogs web article, Do You Know What to do if Your Dog Stops Breathing?, provides useful information on what to do in an emergency situation where your pup might need CPR. The procedure for compression would be the same for humans, but there are some safety concerns you should be aware of before attempting the procedure.

This Youtube video from Hallmark Channel's Home & Family, featuring Dr. Courtney Campbell, shows step by step how to help your pet if you have determined they require CPR.

Knowing just what steps to take will help you stay calm and feel confident in the event you notice your pet has a minor injury that does not require the immediate emergency care of a professional, or if your pet needs to be stabilized in order to be transported to the nearest pet ER.

Keep in mind that an injured pet is most likely in pain and may bite or scratch. Use caution and be gentle, that whole not speaking English thing makes it difficult for your fur baby to say "Ouch, that hurts!" Always keep extra gauze (or even panythose) on hand in case you need to improvise a muzzle.

At Petit Pet Care, we love animals! We care for your pet as if it were our own and that is why Christy is Red Cross Pet CPR and First Aid Certified. To locate a Pet First Aid and CPR class near you visit the Pet Tech PetSaver™ Program page.

Two final thoughts on pet safety in July -

July is Pet Hydration Month - see our Facebook page for several posts on how to keep your pets hydrated in summer and the rest of the year, as well as our Pinterest boards on pet health and safety and summer pet care.

July 15 was National Pet Fire Safety Day. Make sure smoke detectors are working and that you've taken the necessary steps to protect your babies in the event of a fire.

Helpful Links:

AVMA Pet First Aid Brochure

Create a Pet Poison First Aid Kit

Can I Treat My Pet's Wound at Home?

How to Create an Emergency Muzzle

Wound Treatment for Cats

When to Take a Dog to the Vet ASAP

Strains and Sprains Spell Pain for Dogs

Soft Tissue Injuries in Kittens

Additional Resources:

Paws on Safety: One Minute Pet Clinic Videos

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Monthly Podcasts

Prevent Accidental Medication Exposures in Pets

Top 10 Paw Care Tips for Dogs

Rabbit First Aid Kit

50 Page FREE Pet First Aid Downloadable ebook

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Frolic Under the Oaks: New Orleans City Bark

Continuing with our spotlight on New Orleans' dog parks, this month we're taking you on a visit to Nola's largest dedicated, off-leash, canine space, City Bark.

Modern dog culture is steadily transforming the way people live with their animals, and New Orleans is no exception. Over the last decade, the city has seen a significant rise in dog accessible venues, and when it comes to dog parks, City Bark is top notch.

Prior to hurricane Katrina, there were a number of unofficial spaces that people were using to exercise their animals off-leash, but only a few of these were actually fenced in, and many lacked any type of significant amenities. In addition, the use of these unofficial spaces was often a source of tension for surrounding neighborhoods.

Seven years after the storm, city officials made a commitment to create several new dog parks and runs throughout the area. That plan was scaled back to half, however, and only a fraction have actually been realized, the first being the Wisner Dog Run uptown on Laurel Street, which we featured on the blog in November of 2015, and the second being The Crescent Dog Run in Bywater/Marigny, which we told you about this past summer.

Fast forward to 2017, and the city now boasts four sanctioned off-leash dog parks (with number four being Little Paws downtown, which we posted about on the blog this past November), with hopefully a few more on the way.

New Orleans is a gorgeous city with plenty of green spaces, and as parks go, City Park - the home of City Bark - is as lush as they come. Sitting on a 4.6 acre plot of land just off Zachary Taylor Drive on the Marconi side of the park, City Bark first opened it's gates in 2010. Since then, it's been voted the favorite dog park in the city (though to be fair, there isn't much competition), and upon visiting it's easy to see why.

Unlike the city's three other existing dog parks/runs, however, entrance to City Bark requires a keycard. This security measure limits who can enter the park at any given time, as in order to obtain a card, you must first purchase an annual permit from the office in order to use the facility, and in order to obtain a permit, your dog(s) must be properly vaccinated as well as spayed/neutered.

While the permits are good for a full year, keep in mind that it's a fiscal year with a calendar end date of March 1. If you'd like to check out City Bark with your fur baby and are not sure you want to spend the $48 on the permit  ($53 for two or three dogs), you can get a temporary two-week pass for $15.

Hours for permit registration and pick up are 8 am through 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday. The office is located at 1 Palm Drive in the City Park administration building, which is just across the 610 expressway from the dog park (near Tad Gormley Stadium).

Signage stating dog park rules is clearly posted on both the front and side gates, as well as park etiquette and operating hours. It's a good idea to read City Bark's Safety Information page before visiting the park for the first time, as it has some great tips such as the best way to enter the park and what to do if other dogs are near the entry gates. It might also be prudent to have the dog park coordinator's telephone number handy (504-483-9377) in case of an incident.

Once inside the gate, you'll notice there is ample shade in the park for when you and your BFF find yourselves needing to take a break from the sun via the many trees and the large shade pavilions. There are also wading pools and a hydrant fountain for cooling off.

The very spacious park has plenty of grass with room for dogs to romp, roam, and run, including graded areas which allow for running uphill. All dogs inside the fence are expected to be off-leash so you'll want to teach your dog appropriate ways of interacting with other canines.

City Bark has a separate fenced in area about the size of a dog run specifically for small dogs under 25 lbs. The entrance to the smaller section is on the Diagonal Drive side of the park.

Amenities offered by the park include restrooms, benches, fountains, an agility course, a quarter mile paved walking path, wading pools, a washing off area, and of course, poop bags.

City Bark is open daily from 5:30 am to 9:00 pm year-round, however the park is closed weekly on Tuesday mornings until 1 pm for regular maintenance. The park's Facebook page is updated regularly with information about happenings and accessibility.

Important City Bark Safety Rules:

-- Smoking is NOT allowed
-- No children under the age of 8 years old.
-- Food and drinks are NOT allowed in the park.
-- Minimal cell phone use only.
-- Full attention must be paid to dogs at ALL times.
-- Only three dogs per household allowed at one time.

For the full list of park rules see: 

To stay abreast of updates on the park visit:

Please note: If you are visiting City Bark from out of town you MUST have a visitor pass to enter the dog park. Information on obtaining a temporary permit can be found here:

Useful Links:

For more info on dog parks, socializing, and other dog culture topics, be sure to see our Pinterest board, Doggie Domain.

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