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.
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 50 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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I have owned more than a handful of dogs and have prepared many foster dogs for adoption. Along the way, I have met some interesting and challenging canines. One such dog was Duke, The Found Hound. I was buying groceries at the Food Lion in Bridgeton. Every time the door opened, this large, bony tick-ridden hound walked in sweeping his tail from side to side. He entered the store three times and each time he was forced back outside. After the third time, the store employees were ready to call Animal Control. It was Thanksgiving week, and I figured the fate of this dog in the hands of Animal Control would not have a good outcome.
In the parking lot, the dog was going up to everyone in the same friendly manner that he showed as he entered the Food Lion. Everyone brushed him off –that is, everyone but me. I saw something in him that I liked. No one knew anything about this dog so I considered him abandoned. It was clear by looking at him that he hadn’t been well cared for. He was severely underweight and his coat was in poor condition.
I asked some people to help me get him into the backseat of my car. They asked me what I was going to do with him, and I said I’d adopt him out or keep him. They looked at me like I was crazy. My intentions were to get him fully vetted, neutered, trained in some basic obedience, and then adopt him out through the humane society. After I got home, I named him Duke, and started his rehabilitation. He impressed me with his intelligence, athleticism, and willingness to learn. I worked on calming his reactiveness to other dogs, eliminating his food aggressive issues, and taught him basic skills and house manners. When he was ready, I took him to an adoptathon. To my dismay, he was ignored because he was too big. Everyone passed us to view the little dogs. I decided that no one would ever do that to him again and took him “home.” He was mine!
This dog that no one wanted went on to receive a Canine Good Citizenship certificate, had a blast learning agility, and excelled at obedience. He remained my faithful companion for eight years. To this day, he holds the title of being the most frustrating and challenging dog I’ve owned. But he also taught me the most and took me to places I never would have gone. For that, I am forever grateful.
If you have a dog that is a challenge, we may be able to help. We’d love to improve the outcome of your story. Contact us so we can all hear it.
At the 2016 Pet Sitter International’s Conference, I heard a veterinarian named Dr. Marty Becker give a passionate talk about a program that he called Fear Free. It was about taking the “pet” out of “petrified” and lowering a pet’s anxiety regarding veterinary visits.
Dr. Becker realized that vets have been doing it wrong and pets were being terrified as a result. Some of the examples discussed were how nail trims were done and how cats were scruffed for common procedures. In too many cases the mind set was this is how it has always been done, and it was also the quickest way to get things done. (I had worked at a veterinarian’s office for three years so I could relate to what he was saying.) In his heart, Dr. Becker knew there was a better way. He did his research and talked to colleagues and the Fear Free movement began to take shape.
He and his colleagues discovered ways of low stress handling, use of calming music and pheromones, compression garments, and therapeutic massage. They promoted better methods to reduce a pet’s stress before, during, and after a vet visit from the ride from home to the office, into the lobby and on to the scale, and finally the exam room and kennel. Everything was scrutinized and solutions were implemented.
Dr. Becker explained how easy it is to recognize fear by understanding a pet’s body language and how to use techniques to lower it. As he talked, I was reminded about how having this knowledge would benefit the pets that I care for. I considered some of the many challenges pet sitters face and knew that this program was for me. As I was leaving the presentation, I said to one of the leaders in Pet Sitters International that I was going to pursue Fear Free certification in the coming year.
The program was in the early stages and the only Fear Free program available was the veterinary program which I took and then became the first Fear Free pet sitter in North Carolina, and the first Fear Free professional of any stripe in New Bern. It was a difficult course and each year additional credits are required to maintain the certification. After three years of study, I am now qualified for the Fear FreeElite Status. This distinction makes me confident that I am providing the best possible care for all the critters that are entrusted to me.
I have so much respect for the methods and how much they have benefited my clients. Fear Free starts with how I introduce myself to a new pet client, it aids the elderly pets at medicine time, it helps pets overcome their separation anxiety, makes the trips to the vets more comfortable, and employs rewards and praise for training pets to be calm walking companions. The Fear Free methods ensure that I and my team give priority to each pet’s emotional and physical well-being in everything we do.
This program has shaped the path that I have taken and provided me with the best tools to offer the pets in my care. When a pet owner entrusts their pet to me or my team they know that they have hired a qualified professional.
Maxi is a star in my neighborhood. He is a hound of uncertain registry. His owner, Fiona, dotes on him and takes him for walks all over the county. I know him well. He bays when he sees me and trots over for some treats. Ginger, my hound, is quite smitten with him. We occasionally join them on walks.
Maxi came into Fiona’s life about twelve years ago when a co-worker asked her if she was still thinking of getting a dog. She replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes”. The co-worker then asked if she was interested in a puppy – to which she emphatically answered, “No”. This small, pathetic looking puppy arrived at the office the next day and stole Fiona’s heart and changed her life.
On their first day together in Maxi’s new home, they made a special trip to PetSmart where it was discovered that Maxi loved balls. He chose a little green one and proceeded to carry it everywhere he went. Over the years his ball collection grew as he found more balls on his trip to the park. In fact, Fiona’s car is full of balls because Maxi’s philosophy is that every stray ball needs a home with him.
Maxi is Fiona’s first dog. It is amazing to me to see the joyful bond between them. True to his “hound” nature, he is a “good dog ambassador” to all of the children in the neighborhood who can’t resist giving him a pat on the head during his daily walk. He has made a long and successful journey from his pathetic puppy beginning to a charming happy hound. Woof woof!
What is your proud pet story? Contact us so we can all hear it.
Quarantine has been a boon for pet shelters. Many people have found that adding a dog or cat to their household relieves boredom and loneliness during Covid-19. The challenge with having a new pet is that your training options are limited since in person obedience classes for dogs are on hold. And cats, being cats, need special one-on-one training to make them good family pets. While there are lots of books and online tutorials, with everything going on at home, pet training may be necessary but it can be low on the to-do list and that can have negative consequences.
If you have a dog that likes to jump up on people, pull on their leash, and misbehave around other canines, Crockett’s Critter Care now offers Walk &Train. In addition to walking your pooch for exercise, potty breaks, and mental stimulus – we will include Fear Free better behavior training to address common pet concerns. While you’re taking care of your children, attending to Zoom meetings or conference calls, we can give you a break and your pup the attention it needs to be a charming companion.
Jeanne Crockett recently achieved Fear Free Elite Status which she earned after three years of Fear Free Training. Fear Free promotes awareness of the animal’s emotional welfare. Fear Free professionals are trained to recognize and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets. Through calming techniques and gentle guidance things like giving medication, trimming nails, and visiting the vet can become hassle-free happy experiences.
These techniques work with cats as well as dogs. Click the links to learn more about Walk &Train and the Fear Free methods on our website, or call Jeanne at (252) 635-2655 to see how she can help you have a harmonious household.
Happy Pet! Happy Home!
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