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Pet Tips for Spring

Pet Tips for Spring

Spring has arrived! Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and happy as the weather warms up.

  • Use pet-friendly products for spring cleaning; follow the directions for cleaning and storage.
  • Hide the antifreeze. If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a poisonous substance – call the Animal Poison Control Center immediately at (888) 426-4435.
  • Clean up the yard. Pick up sticks and acorns that you pet could chew on. These can cause harm to your dog’s mouth and throat. Remove leaf litter where ticks and fleas could hide. Make your yard and garden unattractive to snakes by keeping them tidy.
  • Cats and screens: Be careful to use strong and sturdy screens in your windows and have them fit snugly. Curious cats can pry screens off their hinges and storms can blow screens off their frames.
  • Never leave your pet in a parked car. Travel with pets inside the car (not in the back of a pickup) and in a secure crate or seat belt harness to keep them safe, unable to stick their head out the window, or interfere with your driving.
  • Watch your pet for signs of seasonal allergies. Pets can be allergic to pollen, dust, grasses, and plants. For many pets, this reaction shows up in skin issues. You may notice itching, minor sniffling and sneezing or life-threatening anaphylactic shock from insect bites and stings. If your pet suffers each spring, see the vet to ease their suffering.
  • Flea and tick control. Check your pet for these pesky critters regularly – especially after they have been in tall grass.
  • ID tags will help your pet be returned to you, if they go astray.
  • Xylitol poisoning: there is a significant increase in pets being poisoned by ingesting this artificial sweetener. A tiny amount can be fatal. It can be found in some sugar-free gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, children’s chewable or gummy vitamins and supplements, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Xylitol is also showing up in over-the-counter nasal sprays, laxatives, digestive aids, allergy medicines, and prescription human medications, especially those formulated as disintegrating drug tablets (sleep aids, pain relievers, anti-psychotics, etc.) or liquids.
  • Prep for storms. Gather your hurricane kit together, teach your pet to go into a crate or carrier, and have important papers handy. If your dog is frightened of thunderstorms, ask your vet about medications that can ease your dog’s fears.
  • Standing water can cause health concerns (Leptospirosis) so don’t let your pet drink from puddles. Steer clear of communal water bowls.
  • Blue-green algae – keep your dog out of water sources that have been known to be contaminated with this toxin. Always wash your dog after swimming outside. Last August three pets died hours after swimming in a pond in Wilmington, NC.
  • Sign up for alerts from Dog Food Advisor regarding pet food recalls.
  • Take your dog out for a special treat to any of our beautiful parks.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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DID YOU KNOW? 5 Tips for Purrfect Cat Sitting Visits

DID YOU KNOW? 5 Tips for Purrfect Cat Sitting Visits

You want to get out for a full day or even a few nights away from home, but your kitty is happier at home. Learn what a professional pet sitter does for your feline friend.

  1. Hire a Crockett’s Critter Care professional pet sitter. We know the right questions to ask and information to gather before we confirm and approve your request. We will ask where your cat’s hiding places are, how they react to strangers, how they cope with your absence, what they like to eat, and what games and toys they enjoy. We will gather a health history and contact you if we suspect a medical emergency. We are trained in Pet First Aid/CPR and can provide immediate care and assessment to determine if a vet visit is warranted.
  2. Insist on daily visits. Too many things can happen that, if gone unnoticed, can result in a serious medical outcome. A urinary tract infection, getting caught in the window blinds, getting stuck in a tight place, or chewing an electrical cord are just a few of things that pet sitters have discovered just in time to save a cat’s life. A daily observance of your cat will ensure that it receives the care and attention it needs.
  3. Your cat’s daily routine can be noticed which includes maintaining the litter box, monitoring input and output of food and water, washing food bowls and providing fresh food at each meal on a clean plate. We can cat proof your house to make sure dangerous plants are out of the way and that the temperature is comfortable.
  4. Your mail, packages, and newspapers will be brought in giving your house an occupied vibe. We will notice if something looks wrong and help solve little problems before they turn into big ones.
  5. Cats love attention, and we love cats. You want to be able to breathe easier on your trip and come home to a happy cat’s contented meows. We will play with them, talk to them, and hang out with them while you are gone so they will miss you just a little bit less.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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DID YOU KNOW? -How to keep your pet happy, fit, and healthy for a lifetime

DID YOU KNOW? -How to keep your pet happy, fit, and healthy for a lifetime

Here are 7 simple things you can do to ensure your pet’s health and happiness.

Happy Dog
  1. Feed them a good diet. This promotes a shiny coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. It also strengthens your pet’s immune system, helps maintain their intestinal health, increases their mental acuity, keep their joints and muscles healthy, and good nutrition means a happy pet.
  2. Keep your pet lean. Obesity is a huge problem today and can shorten a dog or cat’s life span by as much as two years. Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes. Since you can control what your pet eats, it is up to you to count their calories.
  3. Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. Pets that are getting older should see the vet twice a year. In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment of minor problems before they become serious and costly health issues.
  4. Keep your pet’s mouth clean. Yes, brush your pet’s teeth! You can also provide dental chews and drops in their water. Untreated dental issues can contribute to heart and kidney disease. It’s best to introduce this to cats when they are kittens.
  5. Supervise their outdoor activities. Roaming pets are subject to car accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons, and other dangers. Protect them by not allowing them to wander without you.
  6. Exercise your pet. It’s good for the mind and body. It lowers stress, increases endorphins, and balances their mind. It helps maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass.
  7. Provide positive attention. Give them affection with petting, grooming, kind words, and enriching activities. Our loving companions deserve to be appreciated and well-cared for.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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DID YOU KNOW? – Cats are Complex Creatures

DID YOU KNOW? – Cats are Complex Creatures

Cats have always been mysterious and even mystical as well as the first defense against rodents. Here are some cat facts to help you understand your feline companion.

It’s in the genes! You know a lot about your cat except, for many cat owners, you don’t know what type of cat you have. Basepaws, an animal health company specializing in genetics, can analyze your cat’s DNA for breed type, health markers, and its wild heritage. (You may have a cute kitten that is descended from a lynx!)

How it works: you purchase their kit, send them a cheek swab, and wait for your cat’s genetic report. You’ll discover what breeds and breed groups your cat descended from and what health issues can affect your cat’s life.

Personality
Is your cat social, confident, and easy going or timid, shy and unfriendly? Studies have confirmed that not only is personality inherited from the mother, but that friendliness specifically is, in part, inherited from the father. The best time to begin gently handling a cat is before 8 weeks old. Feral cats may become adjusted to humans who regularly feed them, but they generally don’t like to be handled.

Foraging
Cats in the wild eat numerous small meals each day and spend a lot of time hunting. This is why food puzzles instead of food bowls are so enriching. They mimic the cat’s natural choice.

Senses, habits, and interesting facts:

  • Each cat has its own signature scent. They spread their scent over their fur through grooming. Friendly cats rub up against each other to transfer their scent. This friendly behavior is called allorubbing.
  • Cat’s ears can be rotated at 180 degrees. The average cat’s hearing is at least five times keener than a humans.
  • Domestic cats spend about 70% of the day sleeping and 15% grooming.
  • Most cats don’t have eyelashes.
  • Cats can jump up to six times their length.
  • Cats use their whiskers to feel the world around them and to determine if they can fit into small spaces. A malady called whisker fatigue is caused by too much stimulation. For this reason many cat owners prefer to feed their cat on a plate instead of a small bowl.
  • Cats were first brought to America during Colonial Times to hunt rats.
  • Two hundred feral cats prowl the park at Disneyland on rat patrol.
  • Cats have also contributed to the extinction of 33 different species. Placing bird feeders in safe areas will save a lot of feathered beings.
  • Kittens often seek warmth in car engines. Always thump on your hood before starting your car to scare them off to a safer space.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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Happy Pets = Happy Home

Happy Pets = Happy Home

Are you dogs and cats happy? Here are some great ways to keep your pet’s mind and body occupied this winter and reduce his stress levels.

Keep That Tail wagging!

If you have a puppy or adult dog with lots of energy, you know how much work it is to keep your pet entertained. The colder weather and COVID has kept a lot of us indoors which adds another challenge.
Lack of exercise and mental stimulation can raise the frustration and stress level for both pet and their people. You’ve probably noticed how your dog’s stress level—and yours—goes up when he’s not getting enough exercise. High-energy dogs can develop behavior problems if they don’t get enough exercise and stimulation. Here’s how to keep your canine happy:

  • Play dates. If your dog likes the company of other dogs, invite one or more of his furry friends and their owners to join you in a group walk. Be certain that the canine companions know each other and have proven that they get along. Double check that your equipment fits properly. There are many local parks in New Bern to enjoy.
  • Hidden Treats. Gather a handful of treats and show them to your dog. Place your dog in a sit/stay (or have someone hold him on a leash) and let him watch you hide the treats in front of him in safe places like under a pillow or behind a door.
  • Let him go and encourage him to search. When he discovers a treat, praise him. After a few of these sessions, he will get the idea. You can then start hiding treats in other rooms, and he will stay busy hunting them down. We call this the “Find It” game at my house. Your can graduate from treats to toys or even hiding yourself and calling your dog to search for you.
  • Winter walks. Be on the lookout for a break in the cold and seize the moment. Even a short walk can give your pet some exercise and mental stimulation. A good ten-minute “sniffari” is fun and fulling for your pet. Or add some novelty to your dog’s walks by discovering a new place or adding some games to the outing.
  • Puzzle toys. Invest in a puzzle toy or two to keep your dog’s mind occupied and provide an opportunity to challenge your dog’s problem-solving skills. The toy rewards the dog with a treat when he figures out the puzzle. There are a lot of choices. One of my favorites are the puzzles that replace the food bowl. This gives your dog a chance to hunt for his meals on a daily basis. I also use a snuffle mat with dry treats or kibble tucked inside or a licky mat smeared with peanut butter to engage my dog’s culinary senses.
  • Kong toy. This is a long-time favorite at my house and is great for keeping dogs from being bored or for encouraging them to settle in their crate or on their “go to” place. This tough rubber concoction can be filled with peanut butter, soft cheese or Kong Stuff’N, and keeps dogs busy as they work on removing the food with their tongue. I put a few treats inside a peanut-butter filled the Kong that I let freeze in the fridge. This keeps my pets busy longer.
  • Tug and ball. These are good indoor or outdoor games. If you have some space, you can toss the ball down a long hallway or down a staircase for a game of fetch. If your dog likes to tug, get him a new tug toy and play with him until he gets tired. I like to keep some tugs and balls just for indoor use.
  • Trick training. This is something my dogs, Davy and Ginger, had fun with during the pandemic. I printed out the AKC Trick Dog List and started crossing new tricks off as we learned them. We added roll-over, crawl, and give me your paw to our repertoire. Now we are working on closing open drawers. There is a long list of fun activities to learn.

Make Your Cat Purr!

There are a lot of things that you can do to support your cat’s mental and physical well-being while keeping him safely inside.  Cats love to climb, play, eat, observe, explore, hide, perch, scratch, groom, and hang out with their favorite human.  Here are activities that fulfill these needs. 

  • Environmental Enrichment. Provide cat trees, window perches, and hiding places from a simple paper bag, empty box, or tunnel to shelving, walkways and catios. Scratching posts give cats an acceptable place to scratch and trim their nails. There are many varieties of scratching posts, but the best ones are sturdy and steady. Keep in mind that cats like to extend their full body for a good scratch.
  • Social Interactions. Cats are social animals and like to interact with you when they are in the right mood. Don’t push yourself on them, but do be ready when they are asking for your attention. They prefer to be touched around the cheeks and head and most enjoy being brushed on a regular basis. We find some cats love to be read to or given a gentle massage, and quality lap time.
  • Visual Enrichment. An interesting view of the yard enhanced with a bird feeder can keep them entertained all year. Laser pointers, blowing bubbles, pinwheels, and interactive toys are great boredom busters.
  • Auditory Enrichment through calming music. – Yes, there is music especially for cats that will reduce stress, boost moods, and improve physical and emotional well-being. Through a Cat’s Ear is an example of cat specific music that is popular with veterinary practices and pet sitters. The tones of cat-specific music are best played softly as cats hear much better than we do. The pet cube that I use for my pet sitting clients play sounds in a lower register (matches a cat’s resting pulse rate) and are slower (not great to hum along to, but cats like it!).
  • Pheromone Spray. If you have a cat that is nervous or anxious, you can add Feliway pheromone to help them calm down. It comes in sprays, collars, and plug-ins. I particularly like the sprays on bedding for car travel or veterinary visits. The spray lasts about four hours. Plug-ins are great for the house used in the room where the cat spends most of its time.
  • Food Foraging. There are interactive toys that you can stuff with kibble giving your cat an opportunity to hunt. Place or hide these toys around your house. Many behaviorists are suggesting we stop feeding our pets out of food bowls.
  • Training your Cat. Yes, cats can learn many tricks – fetch, high-five, rollover. They are very smart… after all, they train us! To teach the tricks have some good treats handy, a clicker for training, and have fun with your feline.

Our pets have preferences too. Get to know your pet and find out what they like or don’t like. It’s a great way to build the bond you have between you and add to the quality of their lives. After all, don’t we all want our pets to be happy?


For Fear Free professional pet sitting and dog walking, contact Jeanne Crockett, owner of Crockett’s Critter Care.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

Get more pro tips to take care of your pets by subscribing to our newsletter and blog.

Meet KitKat by James Mallory

Meet KitKat by James Mallory

~ Submitted to Crockett’s Critter Care by James Mallory.

KitKat, our Ginger boy, came to us unexpectedly about seven years ago.  While we were visiting family out of state, a little kitten ran into their garage and wouldn’t leave. He was all alone and only about four weeks old.  We waited to see if his mother or siblings would join him – but no one did.  That weekend we opened our heart and home to a new furry companion. 

He has remained an indoor kitty but still retains his outdoor instincts which we indulge by taking him for a lot of rides in his outdoor kitty carriage.  A great way to keep him safe and secure while still enjoying the outdoors. 

KitKat loves to play and his orange tunnel with his spinning ball is his favorite toy.  When he is not keeping us company, he likes to hang out in “his” sunroom where he can keep an eye on the backyard birds. 

His small circle of friends outside of family includes our pet sitter – his loyal caretaker since we brought him home. 

What is your proud pet story? Contact us so we can all hear it.