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Help Your Pet Avoid Heat Stress This Summer

Keep pets cool

Temperatures are already heating up around here, and were definitely finding it the perfect cure after these last few weeks of rain. But are your pets enjoying the heat? It’s very important for pet owners to be aware of the risk of heat stress in your pets.

Certain breeds are more prone to suffering from heat stress, like Bulldogs, Pugs and Persians, because of their long coats and short snouts. It’s important to implement measures to keep your pet cool on hot days, as heat stroke can be life threatening.

How to Avoid Heat Stress

Unlike humans, who are able to sweat to loose heat, dogs and cats cannot regulate their temperature in this way and rely mainly on panting and external cooling to lose heat from their bodies. This limits their ability to regulate their body temperature, which is why pet owners need to take action to minimize the risk of heat stress.

Some things you can do include:

  • Ensuring your pet has access to shade when outside, and the freedom to move into shaded areas;
  • Ensuring your pet has access to fresh drinking water inside and outside the house (ensure they are placed in a shady spot if outside and consider placing an extra bowl or two if you are leaving the house;
  • Avoiding excessive exercise/ avoiding exercise during the hot parts of the day/avoiding exercise entirely on very hot days;
  • Not leaving pets in the car, even with the windows open.

Signs of Heat Stress in your Pet

Being aware of signs of heatstroke may allow you to act quickly and prevent internal organ damage. These signs may include:

  • Excessive panting progressing to breathing distress;
  • Drooling, salivation
  • Very red or very pale gums;
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Restlessness, delirium, agitation, 
  • Seizures
  • Collapse/comatose

What to do if your suspect your pet has heat stress?

If your concerned that your pet it suffering from heat stress, remove your pet from the hot environment, wrap him or her in a wet towel or spray him or her with cool water onto the skin and fan to maximize heat loss and take home into your nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.

Protect your dog from Mosquitoes

It’s almost summer, but to us dog owners we know what season really is almost here: flea/tick/mosquito season. It’s that time of the year when you become wary of letting you dog walk through ominous-looking grass and uncut lawns. After all, mosquito bites carry deadly consequences and can transmit diseases like heart-worm and West Nile. But if encasing your dog in a protective, impenetrable bubble doesn’t work for you, here are some ways to keep your dog sage and bite-free all summer.

Whatever you do, DON’T use human insect repellent on your dog.Mosquito Protection-Dog

Human bug sprays are great for us, but they’re toxic for our furry friends. Deet, the main ingredient in most drugstore bug sprays, can cause vomiting, seizures, and skin irritation when exposed to dogs.

When applying bug spray, make sure your dog doesn’t lick your skin, if they do, contact your vet immediately.

Avoid leaving standing water around your home.

Mosquitoes, much like humans, need water to live. Restricting their access to water is the best way to keep adult mosquitoes from breeding and, thus, unleashing more mosquitoes into your home.
To prevent this, eliminate any standing water around your home. You might also want to empty your dog’s water bowl at night when you know they won’t be drinking it.

Don’t walk your dog at peak mosquito times.

Just like how us humans have rush hours, mosquitoes have their own time of the day when they’re the most active, and those times are at dawn and dusk. Avoid walking your dog during these hours and they’ll be less likely to be bitten.

Buy insect-repellent products made for dogs.

Fairly self-explanatory, but stick to products that are made for dogs. That way you know they’re safe to use. Most flea and tick products are formulated to repel mosquitoes as well.
K9 Advantix and Bio Spot are two examples of great triple action products that should keep your dog free of bites all summer long. You can also buy sprays and other insect repellents from your pet store.

Don’t ignore natural remedies.Mosquito Protection-Dog

If you’re not comfortable using chemicals on yourself, let alone your dog, there are lots of natural remedies for mosquito prevention that work just as well as the chemical ones. Lemon eucalyptus oil is an effective repellent that keeps mosquitoes at with its repugnant smell.

Geranium oil and soybean oil when mixed together can also be used as a repellent. Although you can find products with these ingredients in health food stores, you can also mix together these oils yourself and make your own D.I.Y bug spray.

Fix any broken window screens in your home.

Most mosquitoes get into the home through open windows or broken window screens. If you wake up with new bites on your arms, your windows might not be protecting you and your dog as much as you think.

Be wary of any holes or tears in screens that might be letting bugs in. And don’t forget to fill in the gap between the air conditioner and the window frame, too.

How to Get Your Cat to Use the Litter Box

cute-343756Cats are creatures of habit and also especially clean. Litter box training is fairly easy, as it is in a cat’s nature to dig and bury their urine and excrement. If your cat is refusing to use the litter box, it is important to find out what may be causing this.

Reasons Why a Cat May Refuse the Litter Box

There are several reasons as to why a cat may be refusing to use the litter box from behavioral to a serious, emergency medical condition. The most important thing to keep in mind that cats never eliminate outside of their litter boxes out of anger or spite.

wildcat-356805First, check to see if the litter box is near anything that might make loud noises that may scare your cat. Appliances such as washers, dryers, and furnaces can be quite loud and litter boxes should not be in close proximity. Your cat might be afraid of the loud sounds coming from these. A remedy to this is moving the litter box to a more quiet area.

What type of litter box are you using? If the litter box is too small, your cat may avoid it. A cat needs to feel safe and an owner of the space they are eliminating in. If your cat is large, or long haired, and having trouble turning around in the box to find a “good spot” and be able to bury, they may look for another place to do their business. Are you using a covered or hooded litter box? This can also be a problem, especially for a larger cat. A cat’s whiskers alert them to how wide of a space they can fit through. If the opening to your hooded litter kitty litterbox is narrow enough that your cat’s whiskers brush against it, they may refuse to enter it. Cats prefer space over privacy. Try removing the hood and see if that helps.

You may also want to double check what type of litter you are using. There are myriad of choices: scoopable, clay, crystal, scented, unscented, etc. Cats typically prefer a sandier litter, so if you aren’t using a clay-based litter, give that a try. Also be sure there is enough litter in the box. One to two inches is perfect. Make sure the box is cleaned regularly and remember the rule of thumb: One litter box plus one for each cat.

cat-245750Your cat may be eliminating outside of the litter box due to stress or a medical condition. Did you recently get another pet? Move? Change your cat’s routine? Do you have more than one cat? If so, inter-cat aggression may be happening. When cats do not get along or one cat is afraid of another, they may be too frightened to use their litter box.

If your cat is still eliminating outside of his or her box, there may be an underlining medical cause. A common medical cause for litter box issues is “crystals” (a blockage in the urethra that makes it difficult or impossible for a cat to pass urine). If your cat suddenly starts attempting to urinate in places other than the litter box, especially if it seems they are straining and/or not passing very much urine, you need to see a vet as soon as impossible. This condition can become fatal for male cats in 24-72 hours.

Litter box issues can be frustrating, but with a bit of patience and investigation, they can be resolved quickly!

Presents 4 Pets

Presents For PetsThe National Association of Professional Pet Sitters is proud to announce our annual collection drive to benefit shelter and rescue pets!

National Animal Shelter Appreciation
October 1 – December 25, 2014

Presents 4 Pets is a nationwide program designed to help support local shelters and rescue groups and the animals they serve.

These abandoned pets need your help! You can provide for their comfort by donating:

Toys – Treats – Paper Towels – Gift Cards from Pet Stores– Pet Beds – Leashes – Collars – Canned Food – Pet Carriers – Pet Cage – Cat Litter – Coat/Sweater – Grooming Tools

For a donation pickup please contact:

Laura Mae Gay

Teaching Your Puppy to Stop Biting

Who doesn’t love the excitement of bringing home a new puppy?  Puppies make great new additions to families and their playful energy is a joy to have around.  However, many young puppies have a problem with biting and as they get bigger and stronger, this could become a problem.  It is natural for puppies to bite and mouth as they play with each other but their bites are harmful on human skin.  The following tips will help you teach your puppy to stop biting.

One way to curb your puppy’s biting habit is to make sure they understand that their bites are painful.  When dogs are playing with you, it is not their intention to actually hurt you so letting out a cry in response to a hard bite can get them to stop.  Letting your hand go limp when they bite hard will also get them to back off because they will naturally sense that they have bitten too hard.  This is usually a very effective method but if your puppy continues to bite hard, you may have to change the approach.

If you cannot get your puppy to understand that his bites are painful for you, then the next approach is to ignore the puppy when he bites hard.  You should still cry out to let the puppy know he is hurting you and then ignore him entirely so that he understands that playing will end if he bites.  You can either completely ignore your puppy by walking away or put him in a designated timeout area.  Puppies enjoy playing so much that stopping play when they bite will quickly teach them to drop the habit.

New puppies bring plenty of energy and excitement to a home but their biting habit can really put a damper on playtime.  Puppies learn to bite by playing with other puppies at a young age but they must understand that biting is harmful to people and that playtime will end if they continue to bite.  As your puppy gets older and understands the consequences of biting hard, he will learn to stop biting and play nice.

Interpreting the Body Language of Cats

Cats are a very common house pet that is found in almost as many American homes as dogs yet they at times can be very mysterious animals.  It is difficult sometimes to tell if a cat is happy, content, or angry and often cats may react in a seemingly unpredictable manner when approached by a person.  While their behavior may seem random, reading their body language can provide important clues for determining their mood and predicting their behavior.  The following are common examples of body language in cats to look for.

  • The Body: The body is one of the easiest parts of the cat to read its body language.  If a cat is lying on its back, it is usually happy and if it is standing with an arched back and flat fur, it wants affection.  However, if the cat has standing fur with an arched back, then it is scared or upset.  When cats rub against your legs, this usually means that they are marking their territory, not seeking attention.  Cats also rub up against other inanimate objects to mark their territory.
  • The Ears: The cat’s ears can reveal a few different things about their mood.  If its ears are pointed forward, the cat is happy and alert but if they are pinned back, the cat is scared or angry.  A cat may move their ears around when they are trying to listen to their surroundings.
  • The Tail: The tail can also reveal much about a cat’s mood and behavior.  Generally, if a cat holds its tail high with flat fur, it is happy but if it holds its tail up with raised fur, the cat is angry or scared.  Tucking the tail between the legs can often be a sign of anxiety and if the cat is thrashing its tail, it may be irritated or in hunting mode.
  • The Eyes: The eyes of a cat are the most difficult part to discern its body language.  If the pupils are thin, it could indicate that the cat is aggressive but it could also just mean that the cat is content.  If the pupils are enlarged, this could mean that the cat is nervous or that it is in a playful mood.  With these contradictions, it is easier to read a cat’s body language in body parts other than the eyes.
  • The Sounds: There are a variety of noises that cats make and each one can reveal something about the cat’s mood or behavior.   Typical “meows” can mean anything from a greeting or asking to be fed to a warning to leave them alone.  Cats purr when they are happy and they usually chatter when in hunting mode. A hiss from a cat is a warning to stay away because it is angry or frightened and yowls, or drawn out meows, are a sign of distress.

While cats may seem like difficult creatures to understand at first, careful observation of their body language may reveal their moods and help predict their behaviors.  The meaning of the body language may vary slightly between individual cats but this general overview still provides a good framework to help determine your cat’s mood and behaviors.  You can get a more accurate reading on your cat’s mood by observing the language of all their body parts and what all of it together may tell you.

The Pet’s Home offers cat sitting services to Naperville, Oswego, and the surrounding areas.  Contact us to learn more.

The Advantages of a Pet Sitter Over Boarding

When a family goes on vacation, they often have to make special arrangements if they have pets to make sure that they receive the necessary care while the family is out of town.  Certain pets such as cats and dogs have special care needs that may be difficult to provide while on vacation.  Pet owners have several options in this case which include boarding their pet at a kennel or hiring a professional pet sitter to care for them in their home.  Here are a few reasons why hiring a pet sitter may be more beneficial than boarding your pet.

The first benefit of hiring a pet sitter is that it will allow your pets to stay in your home and receive care in a familiar environment.  Your pets will already be stressed enough by your absence and the presence of a stranger to take care of them and putting them in an unfamiliar environment as well can increase their stress level.  Kennels also run by their own routine while a pet sitter can care for your pet by the routine you have already established.  The familiar surroundings of your home will make your pet feel more comfortable in your absence and more accepting of a new person to care for them.

Another benefit of a pet sitter is the personalized care that they can give to your pet.  Kennels hold and care for many pets all at once which makes it difficult for their staff to give each individual pet the personalized care they need.  Your pet may also be cared for by several different staff members over the course of their stay.  With an in-home pet sitter, your pet will receive personalized care from the same sitter which will allow them to build a level of trust.  Pet sitters can devote their full time and attention to your pet during each visit to your home.

The final benefit to hiring a pet sitter is that it helps your pet avoid potential hazards.  The large pet population within a kennel means that your pet could be exposed to a number of conditions from other animals such as parasites like fleas and worms as well as viruses that include kennel cough, giardiasis, and distemper.  Keeping your pet at home to be cared for by a pet sitter will avoid all of these potential hazards.

As you plan your next vacation, make sure to take these benefits into mind when deciding how to care for your pet while you are away.  Boarding your pet in a kennel is a decent option that will ensure that the pet at least gets shelter and food but hiring a pet sitter to care for your pet in your home has several advantages over kennels.  Many pet sitters are pet owners themselves who understand the importance of building trust with your pet and providing personal attention in addition feeding and walking them.  Contact the Pet’s Home to learn more about our pet sitting service as well as our staff of professional pet sitters.

If Your Dog or Cat Goes Missing

The family dog or cat is regarded as a member of the family just as much as any other family member.  When the dog or cat goes missing, it can create a feeling of panic or helplessness as there are not usually any clues left as to where your pet could have gone.  Many pet owners across the country have experienced this helpless feeling and although most pets are found within 24 hours, there are cases in which a cat or dog is missing for weeks or even longer.  If your cat or dog does go missing, do your best to remain calm and follow these procedures to increase your chances of finding your pet.

The first question that comes to a pet owner’s mind when their dog or cat goes missing is why did they run away.  There are several reasons why pets run away and if you can determine the reason, it can greatly help your search.  The most common reasons that a pet might run away include:

  • Curiosity: Some dogs are opportunists and may leave when the situation presents itself to find stimulation. 
  • Mating: Dogs and cats that are not spayed or neutered may run away in search of a mate.
  • Unfamiliarity: When a pet has been relocated to a new home, they may not feel comfortable right away and could leave in search of more comfortable surroundings.
  • Fear: Sometimes something drastic such as a loud noise or traumatizing event could cause a pet to run away out of fear in search of shelter.

Taking these common reasons that cause pets to run away into consideration with the personality of your pet can help you get an idea of why they ran and where they might be.

When trying to determine where your pet could possibly be, it is important to consider their size and fitness level.  If your dog is large, you may need to increase your search area because they can cover more ground than small dogs which are usually found within a one mile radius of the home.  Try making a list of the different areas your pet may have run to considering their size and personality and check them daily.  If your pet has a consistent problem with running away, you might want to consider a microchip.

Another important step to take during your search is to stay in contact with local vets, animal hospitals, and kennels in case someone found your pet and took it to one of these locations.  Make sure to provide a detailed description of your pet along with a picture to help your search effort.  You can also use social media or hang posters around your neighborhood to help raise awareness in your area.  But the most important thing to remember is to stay calm and continue your search daily until your pet is found.  Almost 90 percent of all missing dogs are found.

Providing excellent care and giving them the attention that they need is the best way to prevent your cat or dog from running away.  If your work schedule prevents you from being home often enough to walk or feed your pet, contact The Pet’s Home for our pet sitting and dog walking services.

Special Dog Collars for Walking Your Dog

Walking the dog is an important activity between dogs and their owners as it makes for great bonding time and provides some much needed exercise for the dog.  Sometimes walking the dog can be difficult, especially if your dog is pulling you around, which makes it important to train your dog to walk beside you during walks.  Some dogs are more challenging to train than others but with these special types of collars, you can effectively take control of your dog during walks and train them to walk beside you without pulling you in different directions.

The Choke Chain

The phrase choke chain may make many dog owners uncomfortable but the term is misleading as the collar does not actually choke the dog.  The tightening and releasing pressure from the collar is just an uncomfortable pressure to train dogs to obey and if it is done correctly, it will not cause harm to your dog.  This collar is great for keeping excited dogs under control and guiding absent minded dogs but it is not effective to use when training from scratch.  It is important to make sure the choke chain is the right size and that you use it correctly with a firm tug and release to avoid hurting your dog.

The Gentle Leader

The Gentle Leader is a rather odd collar that wraps around the dog’s nose and fastens around the neck.  The leash attaches to the collar at the nose which allows you to control the dog’s head.  This configuration relieves the pulling and makes it easier to control dogs that must sniff everything on a walk.  Gentle Leaders are great for teaching your dog to heel but are ineffective on dog breeds with small noses and faces.

The Training Lead

The training lead is a slip collar that works in similar fashion to a choke chain.  It slips on right over the dog’s head and tightens when you pull it.  Even though the training lead is made of nylon, it is important to apply the same pull and release technique as with choke chains to avoid hurting the dog.  This collar is great for training and everyday use but it should only be put on the dog before a walk.

By using these collars, you can train your dog to walk beside you during walks which will make the experience much more enjoyable for you and your dog.  Make sure to look into each collar type or ask a professional for more information if you are not sure which collar would work best for you.  If you work unconventional hours and cannot walk your dog during the day, contact The Pet’s Home for dog walking services.  Regular exercise is important for raising a happy, healthy dog.

Easy Ways to Remove Pet Stains

One of the biggest challenges of caring for a young puppy or kitten is making sure they are fully potty trained to avoid accidents in the house.  However, even with excellent training, it is still possible for pets to have an accident due to an illness, too much time passing between being let out, and aging in older pets.  Pet messes are not only unpleasant to clean, but they can also lead to stains and even cause adverse health problems if they are not properly cleaned up.

While pet stains that have been ignored are often difficult to remove, cleaning up fresh pet stains is actually pretty easy.  The materials required to effectively clean up pet stains include paper towels or newspaper, a sponge, and one of many available enzyme-based pet stain removers.  The following are four easy steps for removing pet stains from the carpet.

  • Start by soaking up as much of the mess as possible using the paper towels, newspaper, or sponge.  The stain and odor can be removed much more easily if the majority of it is soaked up while fresh.
  • Next, apply the pet stain remover to the affected area and let it soak into the stain.  The amount of time the cleaner should be left to soak will depend on the specific product being used.  Check the label of each product for instructions.
  • After letting the cleaning product soak, use a damp paper towel or sponge to scrub or blot the area and encourage the stain to work itself out.  This step may need to be repeated for desired results.
  • It is more effective to remove a stain when it is fresh but sometimes you may not discover a pet stain until much later after it has dried.  Dry pet stains can be removed using pet stain removers but blotting the area with a damp sponge or paper towel first can help remove the stain.

We understand that potty training a pet can be difficult and finding pet messes throughout your home can be frustrating, but by following these simple steps you can help prevent pet stains.  It is best to act on pet messes when they are fresh but stains from dry pet messes can also be removed from your carpet.  If you work long or unconventional hours that prevent you from letting your pet out at regular intervals, contact The Pet’s Home to learn about our pet sitting services.  Making sure that your pet is allowed to go at regular intervals is perhaps the most effective way to prevent pet stains in the first place.