Friday, December 28, 2018

Our Petit Year in Review: 2018

Another year is coming to a close, and so far December 2018 has been a typical ebb and flow of warm and cool weather here in New Orleans - unlike last year when we experienced an early hard freeze that seemed to have set the stage for an unprecedented two more in the weeks that followed. It was a long cold winter, and we were more than happy to see the arrival of spring.

This time of the year, the arrival of cold weather always brings us back to the question of "How cold is too cold for pets?" as well as "Does my pet need a sweater?" In our "Yes, It's Winter," post at the beginning of 2018 we discussed the best way to help your fur baby stay warm and cozy indoors when you're away from home.

Our client, Rufus, was all set for the cooler weather in his cute vest on a recent walk with Christy.

When it comes to pets in cold weather outdoors (think 40 degrees), it's always better to err on the side of caution. Senior pets, those that are short-haired, very thin or small-breed animals, and especially pets without an undercoat, are all more susceptible to feeling the cold. A light layer or even just a set of booties may be enough, but keep in mind that in New Orleans cold temperatures are often accompanied by wet weather so be sure you're BFF's winter wardrobe includes rain gear as well.

With January and Twelfth Night just around the corner many Nola locals are already thinking ahead to Mardi Gras, which in 2019 occurs in the first week of March. (Keep an eye out for PPC's Christy marching with the Pussyfooters throughout parade season!) If your fur baby needs inspiration for their Fat Tuesday costume, be sure to see our Pinterest board, Because It's New Orleans.

As we look ahead to 2019, we'd like to remind everyone that holiday fireworks (and other loud bangs) are extremely loud and upsetting when your hearing is significantly more sensitive than that of a human's. Dogs and cats can both hear sounds occurring at higher frequencies than people and from further distances. To help your companion animal make it through firecracker season, try giving them a calming soundtrack in the form of soothing music or "white noise," keep windows and doors closed and covered, and be sure to see our holiday hints Pinterest board for additional ideas.

Continuing our recap of 2018, in February on the blog, we introduced you to a number of useful apps to help pet parents plan play dates and manage health and first aid issues. We hope having this information readily at your fingertips has helped alleviate worry, answer questions, and even find new friends.

In March, we realized we'd missed one app when we covered the very important subject of Lost Pets and the resources for locating them. While we we hope you never experience the pain and stress of having a pet go missing, we hope the resources provided in that post will prove to be invaluable if you ever need them.

Of course in April we would have been remiss if we hadn't reminded our readers of all the great benefits there are in hiring an In-Home Pet Sitter.

Our client, Olive, taking advantage of Petit Pet Care's taxi service for established clients.

We also hope you found our pre-summer blog post informative and helpful in getting prepared for everything warmer weather brings this past May, including and especially the threats posed by insect pests and parasites. (Did you know it was possible for heartworms to be transmitted to humans?) Of course as summer progresses and the heat wages on there are additional concerns as noted in our July post, Survival Of The Furriest.

Our clients, Pizza and Sunny, enjoying looking outdoors on a nice day behind the protection of a security door.

Special needs pets have become our forte here at Petit Pet Care. A number of our clients require medication that has to be given during the workday while their humans are away from home. In our two-part series in September and October, we introduced you some of our friends who require a little extra care and discussed their specific needs.

Our client, Ramona, gets her hyperthyroid medicine in a blob of cat food.

It has been our absolute pleasure this year to continue to be the "loving care when you're not there" for all of our Nola extended pet family. We understand how stressful it can be to have to be away from your babies for extended periods when work and other commitments keep you apart from them. We are thankful for the trust you have put in us over the past six years.

See also:

Nola's House Call Veterinarians

In Case of Emergency - Pet First Aid

June Means Hurricane Season: Are you Prepared?

Pet Microchips: What You Need to Know

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Handled With Care: Special Needs Pets Part 2

Good pet sitters do a lot more than just feed and clean up behind your pets when you're away from home. They provide comfort, play, exercise, and emotional support, as well as much needed stimulation, and in some instances, administer medication.

In the September Petit Pet Care blog post we delved into The Special Care of Special Needs Pets. This month we're going deeper into the topic, specifically as it pertains to the medications and senior pet needs of some of our own clients.
Our client, Stevie, is fed a special high fiber cat food for issues with hairballs and constipation. His liquid medication, administered every other day, is given to him by mouth with a syringe.

Sometimes managing the care of a special needs pet is easy, such as just making sure they get what they need at a scheduled time, and sometimes it can be challenging such as when a pet resists being given their medication.

Most medication comes in pill form. With dogs you can generally put their pill in some food and they will happily gobble it up. Cats are another story and may require a more creative approach such as hiding their medicine in a pill pocket or crushing their pill into a powder.

Our client, Noelle, a senior kitty, has Intestinal Cancer and requires a steroid pill which she gets in a pill pocket, and chemotherapy that has been compounded into a chew. She also has probiotics mixed into her wet food.
Our client, Jackson, (featured on the blog in August) requires medication for seizures and heart problems. He lives with two other dogs, so medication time becomes treat time for everyone. He gets his pills in a blob of cream cheese, and the other two dogs also get blobs so they don't try to eat his. 
Our client, Tillie has hyperthyroidism*, and because cats have such a fast metabolism requires her medication twice a day. Like many cats, she fights being given a pill and even figured out how to eat the pill pocket and spit out her medicine. As a result her medication has been compounded into a transdermal cream that now gets rubbed into the inside of her ear twice a day.

*Our client, Ramona, pictured in the September blog post, also has hypothyroidism and gets her pill in a blob of cat food.

If you've followed the Petit Pet Care blog for a while, you probably remember our client, Winnie, who gradually lost control over her back legs and bladder. She had to wear special diapers with a hole for her tail indoors and her person got her a set of wheels so she could maintain some mobility.

Having trouble getting your fur kid to take a pill? For dogs Christy recommends hiding it in either peanut butter, cheese, cream cheese, or wet food, especially cat food. For a cat who can be coaxed into letting you open its mouth, try and drop the pill as far back of the mouth as possible, then close the cat's mouth and stroke it's throat to encourage it to swallow. 

If your cat is still uncooperative you can try a pill gun like the one in this You Tube video:

Looking for resources on special needs pets? Check out these links

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Special Care of Special Needs Pets

This month at Petit Pet Care we're shining the spotlight on special needs pets, those sweet, unconditionally loving companions that require just a little bit more of our time and attention. Medical issues such as diabetes, behavioral issues such as anxiety, even old age, all present a unique challenge in caring for these very special animals.

One of our special needs clients, Ramona.

Once upon a time there were limited options for just about everything from what pets ate to the type of medical care they received. Fortunately, today's modern technology and the many advances in veterinary care mean that our furry, feathered, and finned family members can live longer and enjoy a much better quality of life than pets of the past.

Finding someone to care for your special needs pet when you have to be away from home presents yet another unique challenge. You need someone comfortable with administering medications, able to read body language, identify signs of distress, skilled at calming anxious animals, patient enough to manage potty accidents with compassion... the list goes on.

Senior pets may have issues that make boarding a non-option. Companion animals that require medication need someone patient to drop in on them who isn't squeamish. Dogs are easy; hide the pill in some food and they don't even notice it's there. Cats are a different story; they may require some coaxing, and because of their fast metabolism, those with certain illnesses will likely require a dose of medication during the workday.

Our client, chad who requires an insulin injection twice a day.

Most medication comes in pill form, but some animals may require an injection. At Petit Pet Care we have attended to a variety of special needs animals including Christy's own beloved Gonzo who suffered from cancer and had to have her leg amputated. If you have perused our web site at all you may have read that Christy started pet sitting for others while training to be a Veterinary Technician, and early on worked at Zeus' Place as well. 

Though Christy decided to leave the Vet tech program to be a full time pet sitter, she is pet CPR certified and has a wealth of special needs pet experience including bottle feeding, administering medications in pill form as well as topical creams and injections, pets with dental issues and mobility problems, as well as those with incontinence issues.

Our client, Winnie, had mobility issues and had to wear a diaper indoors.

In-home pet sitters minimize stress for companion animals and provide peace of mind for their pet parents. In New Orleans in particular, where we live with the ongoing threat of storms, flooding,  and the possibility of power outages, having a sitter who can accommodate pets with special needs is a huge bonus for anyone who works long hours or travels often.

At Petit Pet Care we understand a little extra time and effort may be required in taking care of a special needs pet, "Loving care when you're not there," isn't just a slogan. We can also give our established clients a ride to the vet if needed.

For more information on the health, needs and care of special needs pets please visit:

Special Needs Pets
Pet Health and Safety
Senior Pet Central
Pet Adoption, Training, and General Care

Useful links:

Pet Sitter Instructions: What They Need to Know

Understanding the Special in Special Needs Pets

Friday, August 31, 2018

As Autumn Approaches

It's that time of year in New Orleans when everyone has had enough of summer and is ready for the drier air September brings that allows you to sit outside with an adult beverage and enjoy the cool of evening. Though autumn doesn't officially begin until the 22nd of the month, events in August such as the start of football season and schools being back in session herald an end to feelings of quantum lethargy, and give way to a budding excitement for all the fun festivity of fall activities.

Our client, Action Jackson, chillin' in the shade.

Changing seasons means a change in routines. Pet parents should plan ahead now for what this means for fur babies. The return of football season, holidays, and the end of Daylight Savings time all have an impact on day to day routines which affects your BFF's schedule, and let's face it - dogs and cats are all about their schedule. In spite of not being able to tell time via a clock, they know when it's time to eat and when it's time to go out, and they expect your full cooperation.

If football season means get-togethers in your home, you'll want to be sure gatherings are pet proof and guests are mindful of the house rules. While small amounts of some people food might occasionally be okay for your four-legged friend, booze and party snacks definitely are not. When entertaining always make sure that all trash is disposed of properly where curious fur babies can't get into it.

Our client, Toby ready for a scratch.

As the season changes, pet health and safety concerns do as well. Autumn is the height of flea season, and ticks are still active also (not to mention mosquitoes...), so vigilance with prevention is an absolute necessity. While skin allergies are more common for cats and dogs, nasal allergies are also a possibility from irritants like fall ragweed and even mold. Be mindful of potential hazards during outdoor activities and remember that acorns are toxic for dogs.

Fall is the season of pumpkins, the human food that is not only safe for dogs, but a great low-calorie, source of nutrition that is high in fiber. (Dogs need to be regular too!) If using a canned version though, stay away from the stuff sold for making pies.

August 29th was the 13th anniversary of hurricane Katrina. We've been fortunate not to be impacted by any storms thus far this year , but we're now entering what's known as the most active part of the season so it's important to still have supplies and an action plan in place that includes your pet. For a reminder of what you need see our previous post, June Means Hurricane Season - Are You Prepared?

Our client, Olive, completely content.

Of course fall also brings shorter days and ultimately the end of daylight savings. Whether your pet is spending time outdoors with you or your friendly neighborhood pet sitter, make sure they (and you) have some reflective gear that can be seen in the dark.

As the weather changes and as the holidays approach, always be sure to keep the comfort food away from your four-legged kids. Fatty foods aren't good for fur babies period. There's a belief that as the weather gets cooler pets need more food. Make sure you talk to your vet about what's appropriate for your dog or cats activity level.

Also see our previous posts:

Fall Pet Health in Safety,

September, Cooler Temps, and Safe Pet Travel

Useful Links

Natural Supplements for Dogs With Itchy Skin

Toxins to be Aware of This Fall

 Having Happy Holidays

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Survival of the Furriest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our client, Gehrig, knows how to stay hydrated.

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

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

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

See also:

Summer Safety Tips

The Heat is On

June Means Hurricane Season - Are You Prepared?

Recommended Links:

ASPCA Hot Weather Safety Tips

How Does The Heat Index Effect My Dog?

Dehydration and Water Needs in Dogs

Pet Hydration Month - Is Your Pet Drinking Enough Water?

Summer Hazards and Your Cat

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Getting Ready to Spring Into the Nola Summer

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

Our client, Sadie, chilling safely indoors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heartworm facts; click for enlarged view 

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

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

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

The 2018 CAPC Lyme and Heartworm Disease forecasts. 

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

Our curious clients, Pizza and Sonny, peering outdoors. 

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

Things to remember:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:

Spring Has Sprung

The Heat is On

Springtime Pet Care

Useful Links:

Spring Health Tips

ASPCA's Hot Weather Safety Tips

Favorite Hiding Places of Fleas and Ticks

What Does a Flea Bite Look Like?

5 Ways Indoor Cats Can Get Fleas or Ticks

7 Ways to Mosquito-Proof Your Apartment