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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? – 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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DID YOU KNOW? – Furry Pets Still get Cold!

DID YOU KNOW? – Furry Pets Still get Cold!

A coat for your pet is not just a fashion statement, it is a safety measure. Even with shaggy fur coats your pets can still suffer the impacts of cold weather.

Just like people, your pets all react to cold differently depending on age, breed, and size. Like most seniors, older cats and dogs have a hard time maintaining body heat. Meanwhile, puppies and kittens shouldn’t be outside in the frigid air even when well-dressed because they don’t have the fat, metabolism, or the full fur coat they need to stay warm when temperatures plunge.

Of course, it’s not a good idea to shave your dog’s coat during colder seasons. The fur helps keep your pet comfortable so just wait until spring to give Fifi a new do.

Winston in red sweater
Winston in red sweater

A fabric coat or knit sweater for your pet can be fashionable and warm. Add a reflective collar or some reflective accents on the covering to make it easier to spot you and your dog on the dawn and dusk patrols. Take the coat off as soon as your pet comes inside and never leave a wet coat on your pet otherwise they will get chilled from the damp material and you’ll have defeated the purpose of the protective garment.

When it’s cold or wet out, veterinarians say it’s vital to keep young, old, and sick pets indoors. If the temp is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too cold for pets to be left outside for extended periods and below 32 degrees is when frostbite occurs. It’s up to you to watch the thermometer and keep your pet warm and snug.

Rather than chilly hours in the yard unattended, keep those outdoor breaks short, just 10-15 minutes for a romp 3 or 4 times a day is a better option. When it is cold, watch your pet closely for signs of distress which may include shivering, lethargy, disorientation, and whining. If you think your pet is hypothermic, call your vet to determine the best way to warm them up.

While you can’t bundle up your outdoor pets, expect to add 10-15% more food in the winter. Birds (and squirrels) love to get peanut butter and suet when it is cold outside and those extra calories may help maintain their body heat.

Thankfully, we in NC don’t have to contend with severe and lengthy bitter cold seasons like other parts of the country. Our cold snaps may be brief but our concern for every pet’s well-being is for all seasons.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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DID YOU KNOW? You Need Hurricane Prep for Your Pets

DID YOU KNOW? You Need Hurricane Prep for Your Pets

How prepared are you?  A little, a lot, gone overboard, never crossed your mind?  North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes so that will be my focus today.

Here are some things to think about:  the internet and tv may go down; power may go out; rain may cause floods; wind may cause damage; evacuations may be ordered.  Everyone is under a lot of stress scrambling to get what they need to survive and protect their belongings.

Make a plan for your pet ahead of time:  decide where they will go, how they will get there, what supplies and records you will take, and know what you can do to help keep them calm.

Prepare an emergency kit for each animal.  Take water, food, can opener, carriers or crates, litter box and litter, puppy pads, plastic bags, pickup bags, medicine, medical records, leash, collar, harness, pet photo, ID tags.  Suggestion:  take paper records and a photo.  While you may have excellent records and pictures on your smartphone, you may not be able to access them.  Store paper reports in a waterproof container (zip lock bags are handy) and take them with you.  You may also scan records and photos to a file and email the file to a friend or family member who lives in a safe area. 

Before the bad weather approaches, bring your pets inside.  Keep them safe.  You don’t want to search for a terrified pet that has escaped from the yard.

Stay calm – your pets are sensitive to your feelings.  You can help them stay relaxed by packing their favorite blanket or toy, bringing a long-lasting chew toy, spraying Feliway (cats) or Adaptil (dogs) on bedding or towels that can be put into their carriers or crates. 

If your pet is not familiar with going into carriers or crates – teach them to love them.  Leave them up in the house, toss treats in them, feed them next to them and gradually move the food inside.  If they have to spend time confined in one, they will be more comfortable if they have a good association with them. 

Stay tuned in to the weather reports and, if you have to leave – don’t dilly dally.  You are your pet’s best guardian so plan to take them with you. 

Good luck and stay safe.

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

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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What’s A Normal Hurricane Season?

What’s A Normal Hurricane Season?

Remembering Florence 

One thing I learned after 2018 Hurricane Florence is that we don’t always know what we are going to do until the last minute.  We were glued to weather reports that changed overnight.  At bedtime, the path of the storm was heading one way and by breakfast the next morning the path had shifted to another. My friends and I didn’t know if we should be hunkering down or packing to leave.  Hurricane Florence was baffling and unpredictable until she was on top of us.   And then she hit us so hard that many are still dealing with the aftermath.

Looking back, I was about as ready as I could be.  For my pets, Ginger, Davy, and Smokey, I prepared an emergency kit, packed water, food, can opener, cat carrier and dog crates, litter box and litter, puppy pads, plastic bags, pick up bags, medicine, medical records, leash, collar, harness, pet photo, ID tags.  For myself, I packed clothes, food, cell phone, charger, and my laptop.  For my house, I had put away yard art, bird feeders, outdoor tables and chairs, and had a pear tree cut down that wasn’t doing so well.

Go or No Go?

My car was gassed, serviced, and ready to go. I had checked off the items on my disaster preparedness list.  Short of boarding up my windows, I basically did all the things that were in my  control. Even so, I was anxious until an unexpected invitation came from a good friend in a safe area to ride out the storm at her house.  Once I backed my car out of the driveway with a destination and my precious cargo, I felt like everything would work out.  Ginger, Davy, Smokey and I were on our way to Wake Forest.

I followed the storm’s impact from the news on TV and kept an eye on my business from my laptop.  Crockett’s Critter Care was essentially closed for about two weeks.  I was in regular contact with any clients scheduled during this time and, I am happy to say, all their pets were safe.  However, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the other people who called me days before the hurricane started desperately looking for pet care while they left town.  I truly hope they were able to take their pets with them. 

You can’t just rely on Plan A.

Hurricane Florence has reminded us all to be aware of the perils of a disaster and to plan well for the safety of our family and our pets.   I also learned that one can’t just rely on Plan A.  Florence showed us that we might have to put Plan B or Plan C into action.  From one moment to the next flights were canceled, traffic bottlenecked or roads were impassable, and hotel rooms were scarce for a hundred miles around New Bern.  Disasters come with so many unknowns and the more prepared and organized we are, the better we can cope with them.

I was relieved that my pets were used to being crated, handled the drive well, have good house manners, and figured out that they had to be on their best behavior.  Ginger and Davy were quiet, walked nicely side by side around their new neighborhood and got along well with my friend’s puppy.  Smokey was content to explore, enjoyed meeting new people, and gladly settled into her new surroundings.  The Feliway pheromone spray that I applied to her bedding helped to alleviate some of her stress.

I don’t know how calm I would have been had I stayed behind and faced the storm on my own.  I waited about ten days until the power was restored and the flood waters receded before returning home.  When I asked my Facebook friends what they would do differently should our area be threatened again, I was impressed with their responses.   The changes they would make were mostly minor.  Some vowed to set aside more water for themselves and each of their pets, others said they will start to stock piling things earlier and one, in particular, is going to add another generator to help save the Koi in her outdoor pond in the event of a long power outage.

Now that the 2019 season has begun, I hope it is mild and uneventful.   No matter what happens I know that family, pets, and friends are at the top of the list.  Being organized and having a plan will help to cope with any storm.  Take care of the things that matter most and stay safe.