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DID YOU KNOW? How to have healthy, happy indoor cats

DID YOU KNOW? How to have healthy, happy indoor cats

A cat’s emotional and physical well-being is determined by how well pet parents are meeting a cat’s needs.  These needs are equally divided among social, eating, sleeping, grooming, and hunting.  Cats are both predator and prey and are literally analyzing everything in terms of being safe or being in danger.  This includes every time they interact with you or other people, hear a sound, see a movement, smell something different.  They are doing this every second of every day.  Knowing this, we can provide a safer and more enriching environment to keep our pets healthy and happy.  Here are some tips to help:

Play should always mimic hunting styles and include all aspects of the hunt (eye, stalk, chase, pounce, kill) and  engage a cat’s senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. There are a multitude of toy choices or activities that are satisfying. Some of my favorites are toys on a pole, wand toys, and laser lights (providing the cat gets the red dot in the end).  Interactive play between a pet owner stimulates the brain, provides exercise, combats boredom, and strengthens your relationship.  Plus, it’s what cats like to do.  Keeping cats inside where they are safe while providing enrichment makes for a happy and healthy cat.

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Feeding can be done with food puzzles and slow feeders.  Ditch the bowl for something that encourages foraging and hunting.  Move the food around the house at different locations so they can search. Where would your cat want to eat?  Feed it there!  If you have a multi-cat household, spreading the food around gives cats more personal space to eat.  Some cat behaviorists believe that how we feed a cat is as important as what we feed them.

Cats sleep 12-16 hours a day.  Heated cat beds, perches, boxes or containers, a carrier, quiet places, and a spot in the sun are wonderful accoutrements for a sleepy cat.

Grooming is super important and serves more purposes than you might imagine.  It hides a cat’s scent from predators, cleans injuries, removes debris and parasites from fur, and disperses natural oils in the skin.  Cats love to be washed and enjoy grooming their housemates as well.  One thing we can do for them that they like is wash their whiskers and mouth with a warm washcloth. 
Cats, being social animals, would enjoy an indoor environment that engages all of the senses.  Cats love window perches, vertical climbing spaces, wall shelves, sun beam chasing, catios, cat friendly-music, videos, cat plant grass, fish tanks, and companionship. You can even bring the outside in by gathering leaves and placing them in a box for your cat to explore. 

Take a look around your home from your cat’s perspective and see what delights you can add to your cat’s world.  Giving your cat ways to display their natural behaviors will help reduce stress and give them more choices.  Happy Cat, Happy Home!

Help! I can’t walk my dog. What can I do?

Help! I can’t walk my dog. What can I do?

“Exercise restriction” may be recommended by a veterinarian for a number of reasons. A dog may be resting a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), receiving heart worm treatment, or recovering from an injury or surgery. I have encountered each of these scenarios in the last year, and the dogs ranged from normally active adolescents to slowing down seniors. What do we do with their pent-up energy and ensuing boredom? Fortunately, there are several activities that provide mental stimulation during this forced downtime.

Environmental enrichment: Increase their indoor level of low-impact activities. The right level of mental stimulation, and plenty of opportunities to be more dog will result in a dog that can cope better.

Ditch the bowl: Instead, feed your dog using food puzzles, snuffle mats, treat-filled Kongs, lickimats. You can scatter food and treats in different locations around the house or hide treats in a towel, a muffin tin, or a tube. Watch your dog explore the different options.

Mental stimulation: hunting, chewing, licking, mind and scent work, tricks and games are great low-impact activities for your dog.
Play can often meet our dog’s needs: Hidden Treasure – dogs have a remarkable sense of smell. Place a few small boxes or containers out on the floor and add a treat underneath one of them. Encourage your dog to sniff and find the treat. Praise them and reward them with the discovered treat. A snuffle mat, food puzzles, and lickimats all satisfy a dog’s need to hunt. Try puzzles with different skill levels to challenge your dog more. But don’t make it so hard that your dog gets frustrated.

Hide-and-seek is fun for children to play too. When your dog isn’t watching, pick the perfect spot to hide, call your dog, and celebrate their accomplishment with a yummy treat when they find you. This is a good way to practice recall.
Which hand game – this is the beginning of learning nose work. Place a treat in one hand, hold both hands out towards your dog in a fist and encourage them to pick the hand with the treat. Be sure your dog takes the treat nicely from your hand. If he is mouthy, it’s an opportunity to teach them manners.

Put your toys away is one of my favorites. Dogs like this one too. Start by having your dog pick up a toy near where they’re normally stored. Have your dog “drop it” while standing over the toy box. Once they get the hang of this, they can clean up after themselves. Patience and praise are a good recipe to support their progress.

Car rides/stroller walks may help soothe a dog’s confinement while they are on a limited exercise regime. Take them out for a spin. You can stop by a quiet spot for a picnic. Bring something novel along in a box and open it slowly with excitement (a feather, something with a lavender smell, a new treat) to add to the ambience. Sit for a spell and enjoy some quality time together.

Slow petting, similar to a gentle massage or a light scratching, is a sensory way to calm a dog down. Avoid areas where your dog doesn’t like to be touched. Some dogs don’t like the top of their head, muzzle, or ears touched.

Set your dog up for success. Enrichment activities must be safe and fun. Adjust the level of difficulty of puzzles and games gradually so your dog doesn’t get frustrated. Supervise the aggressive chewers so they don’t ingest any object pieces. Games and play are wonderful ways for your dog to pass the time when his normal activity routine is paused. Engaging with your dog is good for both of you. Enjoy the experience. When your dog is ready to resume normal activities, you will have a list of experiences to return to when it is wet, cold, hot or windy. Have fun.


Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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Halloween Tips for Your Pets!

Halloween Tips for Your Pets!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe on Halloween:
Halloween can be a fun time for you and your family – but frightening to Fido and Fluffy. The sounds of the doorbell and children’s voices plus the sights of costumes and jack-o-lanterns can cause high anxiety in pets. Here are some tips to help them handle the holiday stress:

  1. Ditch the doorbell. No need for the cats to be diving for safety and dogs to be guarding your front door every time a trick-or-treater stops by.
  2. Provide a safe space away from the commotion for your dogs and cats to relax. Include their favorite toys, blanket, an article of your clothing, and some yummy treats to keep them comfortable and content.
  3. Costumes are scary as are all the people coming and going. Consider creating a safe space away from the front door (driveway, front lawn, car trunk) where you can set up a candy station.
  4. Off-limit items for pets:
    – Candy: especially if it contains chocolate or xylitol (a common sugar substitute).
    – Candles and jack-o-lanterns
    – Glow sticks and glow jewelry
  5. For everyone’s safety, keep pets inside and away from any trick-or-treaters. You don’t want Halloween to turn into a nightmare.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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Looking forward: Our new signature offer

Looking forward: Our new signature offer

Davy, my reactive dog

An ah-ha moment with my reactive dog, Davy, that led to my new signature offerReactive Dog Training. People with reactive dogs have few resources to turn to for help – until now. I saw the need and decided to fill the gap for this small community of pet owners.

Reactive dogs can’t handle being in a class, are turned away from doggie day care, and are difficult to walk around the neighborhood. In fact, pet owners of reactive dogs find themselves doing little of the activities they planned to do with their pup. They avoid walking them, stop inviting visitors over, and grieve for the dog they wanted. I know these feeling as I have gone through this with my own dog – Davy.

I made it my quest to help Davy after he was asked not to return to Canine Good Citizenship Class (Who am I kidding? I knew he wouldn’t handle a bunch of strange dogs in the ring at the same time). My lifetime of working with dogs didn’t prepare me for a reactive one. But my quest to find the solution did. It was a game changer. I knew that there was a small community of dog owners who would benefit from learning the answers I found. It has been several months since I have been trialing this new program, and my clients are happy with the results.


Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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Pet Loss and Emergencies

Pet Loss and Emergencies

I have cared for a lot of pets since I started my business. Some are no longer with us. I know that’s part of the circle of life, but what surprises me is the sadness that never lessens. You would think that after the first one, it would get easier. Yet with each subsequent loss, the familiar sadness returns. Some pets have been in our care for over ten years and have lived a long and full life. A few have gone too soon. All were loved by their family and lived a good life.

There have several times when I’ve rushed a pet to the veterinarian or the emergency clinic. Our staff is trained to look for and report to me immediately if anything is off. One cat was limp after being bitten by a spider, a dog was in pain with an undiagnosed UTI, another had an uncomfortable flare up of pancreatitis. We know our actions have saved lives. These health issues are critical, and we stop whatever we are doing on our busy schedule to see that these pets get the care they need.

My team and I have a special relationship with our clients’ pets. Whether we know them from dog walking, pet sitting, or training – they have captured a piece of our heart.


Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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