Safety Summer Tips

Summertime is full of fun opportunities to hang out with your pooch. Festivals, long walks, hiking, camping, and hanging out outside with your best buddy is paw-some but be very careful…it can also be deadly for dogs in terms of overheating. Here are a few quick tips to keep your fur-kid safe this summer:

 

  1. If you walk your dog, do it early in the morning or late at night.
  2. Heat rises from the ground. If you can’t hold the back or palm of your hand on the pavement/asphalt for five seconds without burning yourself it’s TOO HOT for a dog’s paws.
  3. Dog’s cannot sweat. Watch for signs of dehydration, which are excessive drool, lethargy, bloodshot eyes and pale gums. Don’t forget to carry water for your dog when you walk or go out on adventures together. Keep your dog hydrated!
  4. Get creative to cool your dog. Invest in a kiddie pool. Lay down wet towels. Put bowls of ice-water out.
  5. Never…never….NEVER leave your dog in a parked car. The car retains more heat than an open area, even if it is in the shade. Leaving your dog in a parked car can be deadly.

 

Need a fur-kid sitter while you’re out running errands? Call us or visit us online to find the PAWfect way to pamper your pooch or kitty with our award-winning pet sitting and dog walking services.

 

 

The Guide to Fear Free Pet Care

The Guide to Fear Free Pet Care

Do you know how to tell when your pet is nervous or not feeling comfortable in their environment? Often, our pets are stressed by certain triggers or changes, such as thunderstorms, strangers, or new places. If pets are nervous, they may pace, pant, vocalize, freeze, pretend they are sleeping, or give us other obvious signs of fear, anxiety, or stress. Other indications may be much more subtle, such as eye or ear position – making it more challenging for owners and others to pick up on. Minimizing fear, stress, and anxiety is a great way to help your animals feel more comfortable and help increase the bond between pet and owner. Fear free centered care is a growing aspect in the pet health industry that utilizes techniques to recognize and decrease stress for your pet.

Identifying What Makes Your Pet Anxious or Uncomfortable

The first important step in reducing your pet’s stress, anxiety, or fear in an uncomfortable situation is being able to identify what makes them anxious or uncomfortable.

A relaxed, intrigued body position and soft eye can be indications of a comfortable pet. Tense body position, yawning, showing the whites of their eyes, or moving slowly can be signs of stress. For cats, tail and ear position can be helpful to interpret their comfort level. For pets that are a little more timid, using treats or positive motivators such as toys, calming scents, or soft voices can help decrease their anxiety levels. Moving slowly and using a low body position, such as sitting or kneeling, can make your pet feel more comfortable. Avoiding the use of strong scents such as perfumes and ensuring clean hands if you have been around multiple pets can also decrease stress.

Keeping Your Pets Calm When Leaving Town

Leaving town without your pet can be stressful for them. Unfamiliar dogs or places such as a boarding kennel can be full of strange noises and new scents. Whether your pet is staying at home with a pet sitter or going to a boarding facility, there are several ways to help keep them calm and comfortable while you are away.

  • Leaving a toy, blanket, or personal item with them can help remind them of your scent.
  • Providing noise, such as through television or classical music, has been shown to decrease stress, especially in dogs.
  • Calming pheromone scents such as feliway or adaptil can be sprayed on furniture or objects, used as collars, or even put into diffusers to help provide comfort while you are away.
  • Objects such as kong toys can be used to provide enrichment by being filled with treats or even frozen with peanut butter or kibble to help prevent boredom and relieve stress. If your pet is particularly anxious, they may even benefit from anti-anxiety medication while you are away to help them relax. If you feel like your pet may be a candidate, we recommend calling and speaking with your veterinarian  

Reduce Anxiety With Enrichment

Enrichment can be a great way to decrease anxiety and boredom while you are away. Even if your pet is only alone during the day, providing toys and treats to help entertain them can help to keep them calm and occupied. Puzzle bowls, interactive feeders, and other toys that can be stuffed with treats can be used and even hidden around the house. Some toys even have a microphone to allow your pet to hear your voice. Their normal meals can be split into snack portions and integrated into play time to help occupy the time. If your pet is a chewer or is likely to destroy toys, please consult with your veterinarian or use personal discretion before leaving them unsupervised to prevent accidental ingestion.

Always Provide Encouragement

For the nervous dog or cat, a little encouragement can go a long way. Providing calming, positive interactions repeatedly over time can help an anxious dog or cat become more comfortable and confident. By becoming educated on pet body language and how they respond to their humans, it is easier to understand how your pet responds to their environment. By providing positive interactions, the goal is to increase your pet’s comfort level and confidence through treats or other rewards. It is important to start slowly. If your pet is too nervous to be motivated by treats or other rewards in certain scenarios, taking a step back and consulting with a trainer or a veterinarian may help to increase understanding and help identify what is the cause of your pet’s nervousness or discomfort.

By identifying triggers and minimizing events when your pet feels stressed, you are able to provide them comfort and enrichment while you are away. For more information on fear free centered care visit the fear free website. There are a multitude of resources for pet owners, as well as finding a fear free certified veterinarian near you.

AUTHOR BIO:Dr. Meg Walker is an associate veterinarian at Weddington Animal Hospitaland a North Carolina native. She is a proud graduate of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and is certified in veterinary acupuncture through the Chi Institute. She is a Fear Free Certified Practitionerand is passionate about getting to know her patients and minimizing their stress during their visits. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her husband and her two pets and watch Carolina Panther’s football.

Wags and Purrs: Top 5 Ways to Spoil our Pets

Does your dog or cat enjoy the luxury of a king sized bed at the expense of your own good night’s sleep? What about those rain-or-shine 5 A.M. walks? Do your fur-children eat only the finest high-quality protein, while you have the occasional ice cream for dinner? If all of these ring true, your pet might be a little spoiled — but we prefer the term well-loved! Go ahead and indulge with these top 5 ways to spoil our pets.

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1.) Spa Day

What better way to pamper your pup than with a spa day? The Dog Salon in Charlotte is the perfect stop for a day of luxury. The grooming options for small and large breeds range from “just a trim” to a DIY bath to a full-service star beauty treatment. Time for a nail appointment? Add on a manicure for your little prince or princess. Extra services include therapeutic shampoo options, flea treatments, teeth brushing, nail polish, and funky fun fashion colors!

2.) Kitty Camp

Warmer days are fantastic for a kitty-and-me play date! Cats love games as much as dogs. Keep your feline friendly busy with a variety of mentally stimulating activities. Build an indoor obstacle course for your cat out of old boxes and watch the fun begin. Try some catnip bubbles to draw kitty’s attention. Turn your cat’s water bowl into a fun fountain or let the faucet drip while kitty enjoys splashing around. When it’s time to sunbathe, a hanging window ledge is a great way to ensure maximum relaxation.

3.) Summer Lovin’

Take your dog for a swim! Many of Charlotte’s local lakes, creeks, and streams are dog-friendly and perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve is a go-to for many Charlotte dog owners as temperatures begin to heat up. The expansive park is home to several small lakes that offer a cozy picnic spot for you and your best furry friend. Feeling adventurous? Take your dog on a stand-up paddle board ride — but don’t forget the life jacket!

When it’s time to head home, treat your pet to some extra love with a refreshing pupsicle.

4.) Choose Your Own Adventure

Take your pet to the store and let them pick out their own toys and treats! Whatever your furbaby picks is what your activity for the day will be. If your furchild goes for a frisby, take them to the park. If they’re more of a snuggly cuddle toy type, an indoor movie day is your destination. Save the treats to enjoy on your adventure!

Trying to keep your pet’s health in mind as well as spoil them? Opt for nutritious snacks over junk food. High protein, grain-free and all natural varieties will please your pet just as much. Pawtique in Charlotte is a delightful holistic pet shop that offers an array of options for your pet lead shopping spree.

5.) Playtime, Cuddle Time, and More

One thing is certain — we love our pets! But spoiling our furchildren can be difficult when work, school, kids, and life get in the way. If your busy lifestyle has got your pet feeling like less of a prince or princess, scheduling a weekly play date is the perfect pick-me-up.

At Little Friends, our caring, knowledgeable sitters are flexible and work around your schedule. Set up a short 20-minute play date, half an hour, or a full hour. Dogs, cats, and even exotics will benefit from individualized play, cuddles, and pampering. We provide companionship, walks, and treats (at the owner’s discretion) along with regular meal times and care.

Schedule a recurring visit every month, week, or day and keep your pet feeling like the royalty they are!

Fleas, Ticks and Allergies: Your Spring Health Guide for Your Charlotte Pets

With spring comes warm, breezy weather. Prepare for trips with your furry friends to the beach, dog park, hiking trails, and other fun destinations! Unfortunately, spring also means fleas, ticks, and allergens. When you begin to sneeze, you may also find your dog and cat licking their paws. Thankfully, there are also ways to fight against these pests and uncomfortable allergies, keeping your Charlotte pet happy and healthy.

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Fleas and Ticks in North Carolina

No one wants to deal with fleas and ticks. They’re uncomfortable for your pet and can spread throughout your home. Here are some things that you should know about these pests if you live in Charlotte:

Symptoms of Fleas and Ticks in Dogs and Cats

Here are some of the signs that you should look out for when inspecting for fleas:

  • Flea droppings, which look like very small, dark grains (will be in your dog’s or cat’s fur)
  • Flea eggs, which are small, white grains (also found in the fur)
  • Licking and scratching the skin excessively
  • Hair loss
  • Hot spots and redness

And for ticks:

  • These can be spotted by sight and will look like a dark, raised bump
  • They can cause skin irritation
  • Your pet should be checked regularly for ticks if they spend a lot of time outdoors, especially near the head and feet

How to Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks

  • There are several preventative treatments available that will keep your pet free of ticks and fleas. These include oral medications, spot-on treatments, shampoos, dips, collars, sprays, and powders.
  • If one pet has fleas or ticks, then you should treat all of your pets with preventative treatments. This will keep your other pets from getting them, which is known as cross-infestation.
  • Keep in mind that when dealing with a flea or tick infestation that you should also clean your home. This includes your bedding (including pet bedding), carpets and upholstery. These surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Learn how to remove ticks properly with a pair of tweezers. If you struggle to do this, then contact your vet.

Signs of Spring Allergies in Dogs and Cats

Just like yourself, your pet can also get allergies in the spring. This can be due to common allergens such as pollen, mold spores, and dust. Itching is a common sign among dogs and cats. Cats will lick to the extent that their skin is reddened and dogs will lick similarly, developing swollen, irritated skin.

How to Avoid Spring Allergens

If you’re looking to avoid the effects of spring allergens, then consider these tips:

  • Levels of pollen are highest early in the morning and in the late afternoon. Consider walking your dog at different times.
  • Clean your dog’s paws, legs, and body directly after their walks or your cat’s paws if they spend time outdoors. You can also put booties on your dog when walking them.
  • Change your air filters regularly. This will cut down on the allergens that come in through the windows or the door when it’s opened throughout the day.
  • If your cat isn’t already indoors-only, then consider making the change.
  • Keep up with your cleaning. Many surfaces – such as your rugs, carpet, and curtains – can pick up pollen and dust.

Overall, the spring is a beautiful time in Charlotte but it’s important to take preventative measures against fleas, ticks, and allergens. If you’re looking for a pet sitter or dog walker this spring, contact Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking. To schedule a service or register as a new client, you can look for your location here.

Take A Hike With Charlotte’s Best Dog-Friendly Trails

Living in the beautiful Charlotte area means you and your pup get to spend lots of time outdoors. As the temperatures begin to climb this spring, it’s a great time of year to explore the local scenery. Get out, get active, and get your dog’s tail wagging with Charlotte’s best dog-friendly trails!

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Blaze a Trail at Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve

Explore new frontiers with over 10 miles of fields, streams, creeks, and meadows at Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve. If your pup is tired of the same old dog day hikes, this scenic route is for you! A looping series of trails is the perfect choose-your-own-adventure for you and your best friend. Routes range from easy to moderate, with varying terrain and a bike path for cycling pups.

Great fishing access provides a place to chill in the summer, while fall foliage highlights Reedy Creek’s many bird watching spots as temperatures cool. What makes this trail pawsitively unique? The most well-trafficked route leads hikers along the ruins of the historic Robinson Rockhouse, built in 1970. Enjoy a taste of history and be sure to keep dogs on leashes at all times.

Conquer Crowder’s Mountain State Park

Just half an hour outside of Charlotte, Crowder’s Mountain State Park offers scenic lake views, towering cliffs, and 11 trails that range from beginner to mountain warrior. The Ridgeline Trail is the most popular route for hikes into King’s Mountain State Park. Hiking portions of The Ridgeline can be a great day hike or — if your furbaby loves to camp — take on the whole trail. If preparing to hike the backcountry, make sure your dog is up to date on his or her vaccines, know your pup’s stamina, and go prepared with plenty of water to keep you both happy and hydrated.

If you and your dog aren’t quite ready to be mountaineers, relaxing at the lake or hiking any of Crowder’s meadow trails offers the same spectacular views with less leg work. Two of the best dog-friendly trails for the Crowder area include Tower Trail and Pinnacle Trail. Determined hikers will be rewarded with breathtaking views and tired pups!

Experience History at Latta Plantation

Latta Plantation is one of the most unique, pet-friendly hikes in the Charlotte area. This historic cotton plantation dates back to the early 1800s. The Latta Nature Preserve hosts myriad trails that offer views of the living history farm, historic outbuildings, and the plantation itself. You and your best furry friend may feel like you’ve stepped into a time capsule with this glimpse of North Carolina’s past! The Cattail and Beechwood Trails are especially nice in the summertime.

Latta Nature Preserve is also a favorite spot for viewing wildlife. If you’re looking to mix up your daily walk, try a little amateur wildlife photography with your pup. Just make sure your best friend doesn’t chase off your squirrely subjects!

Stroll Along South Fork Trail

This trail is a stand-alone hike, unlike the parks we’ve toured so far. An easy, level, 2-mile walk each way provides a quick afternoon break for you and your dog. Surprisingly, this trail is not heavily trafficked. A hidden gem, South Fork is the perfect jogging route all year round.

The highlight of South Fork? Check out the ruins of a Civil War Era bridge and surrounding mills!

Fetch at McDowell Nature Preserve

One of the most well-loved parks for dog owners, McDowell is centrally located and offers over 7 miles of trails to explore. This is a good park for families, picnickers, and anyone looking to relax after a long week. It’s also a great spot for small dogs, with trails and open prairie areas that are sure to provide fun for all sizes and energy levels. The preserve offers easy access to fishing, hiking, kayaking, and more!

Love hiking, but not always able to keep up with your dog’s busy schedule? Take the adventures and leave the daily walks to Little Friends’ compassionate, knowledgeable staff. We’re never off duty, with year-round dog walking and pet sitting services, flexible scheduling, and comprehensive wellness-based programs for our furry clients and the people who love them! Book your first walk today and check out more ways to stay active and healthy alongside your pup.

 

5 Benefits of LFPS vs. Hiring an Individual Pet Sitter

We know that you care very much about your furry friend and so do we! However, we also know that you just can’t always be home with them. After all, you have work, loved ones, and other engagements that require you to be out of the house for extended periods of time.

But who will take care of your pet while you’re gone? While you can certainly hire an individual pet sitter, their services and care just don’t live up to those that we offer here at Little Friends Pet Sitting. Here are a few of the reasons why:

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1. GPS tracked report and detailed digital log

At LFPS, you’ll always know where your pet is, so you can rest assured! Unlike the average individual sitter, we utilize GPS tracking to keep you in the loop. If you have a dog, we offer a GPS tracked walking route and online report card. This way, you’ll be able to track the location of your pet and you can feel at ease knowing that your pup has had a long, satisfying walk and an enjoyable time with their walker. You can also ensure that your pet keeps their regular schedule, as they will be used to their routine.

2. We are never closed!

When you’re working with LFPS, you don’t have to rely on the schedule of a single sitter, who is going to have more strict and limited availability. Rather, you’ll have a whole team who cares about the wellbeing of your pet! In fact, we are never closed and offer a 24/7 hotline for clients, so you can always get in touch with us.

3. Your pet sitter will be insured and background-checked

You’re given a sense of security when you know exactly who is watching your pet. This is why we make sure that our sitters are background-checked and you can also read about them on our website! In addition, our sitters are insured, bonded, and experienced. We want to make sure that you’re getting top tier care for your little critter, which may feel like rolling the dice when you’re looking for an individual sitter. But we take the uncertainty out of searching for quality pet care.

4. Scheduling software that is user-friendly and makes sure that your pet is cared for on your time

To schedule an appointment with one of our amazing pet sitters, clients use scheduling software that is easy-to-use and customizable! Rather than having to arrange times with an individual sitter, you can ensure that you will be receiving the same weekly services. This makes arranging pet care when you’re at work a breeze!

5. We also offer home care

You’ll be happy to know that we not only offer pet sitting and walking services but also home care. It’s like hiring a house sitter, pet sitter, and dog walker in one! Which services are included? We can retrieve your mail, water your plants, change the blinds and rotate the lights, in addition to other home care and crime-deterring activities that will make you feel at ease while you’re gone. We can also administer your pet’s medication, as well as home maintenance and clean-up following any small accidents.

At LFPS, we treat our clients like family! We make sure that you know where your pets have been, that they’re properly cared for, and you’ll know that you can reach us 24/7. You can be certain that your pet is with an experienced sitter and scheduling will be quick and easy using our software. We pride ourselves on offering the highest level of service to both our clients and their precious pets.

Smile! February is National Pet Dental Month

Is your pet ready to flash those pearly whites? February is National Pet Dental Month — the perfect time to brush up on health, wellness, and oral care for your pet. Dogs, cats, and even exotics need plenty of TLC when it comes to their teeth. Consider these dental hygiene tips and deals to keep your best friend smiling brighter.

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Strike Back Against Plaque: Preventative Pet Dental Care At Home

From tug-of-war to scarfing down their favorite treats, our pets’ mouths get quite the workout. A wellness routine is highly important when it comes to preventing tooth decay, dental disease, and detecting signs of illness early.

Need a Mint?

From abscesses to plaque, dental disease is no laughing matter. Know the signs and symptoms of illness in your pet, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Reddened or irritated gums
  • Lumps and bumps around the gum and jaw area
  • Difficulty eating or picking up toys
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Yellowed or discolored teeth
  • Overgrown teeth (in exotics)
  • Pawing at the mouth and exhibiting signs of distress

If your furbaby is experiencing any of these persistent symptoms, it’s a sure sign that a trip to your friendly neighborhood vet is in order.

Fortify and Protect

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but brushing your dog’s teeth can keep the vet away! Dogs and cats both benefit from routine brushing. Avoid pet foods that are high in chemical additives. Junk foods can wear down the enamel in your pet’s teeth, making them more susceptible to dental diseases. Instead, spoil them with love and healthy fare! Dental treats and chews are a great option for daily oral upkeep. 4 Paws Holistic has a huge selection of all natural, grain free diets, toys, chews, and treats designed to benefit overall dental health.

Little guys need love too! Rabbits, hamsters, and chinchillas have teeth that are constantly growing. Malocclusion can pose a serious health risk if your small friend’s fangs aren’t kept at bay. Be sure to provide chew toys made from safe woods, along with a variety of hay and a wholesome diet. Pumice stones are a great option for exotics, such as chinchillas. Toys help mimic wild behavior and keep your jungle creature happy and mentally stimulated as well as healthy.

The Buzz Around Town: Dental Deals in Charlotte

While preventative care is crucial to your pet’s well-being, no amount of brushing can replace regular pet dental cleanings.

West Ballantyne Animal Hospital

If you’re new to the Charlotte area or just new to parenting a furchild, West Ballantyne is currently offering $20 off your pet’s first exam. A caring team of professionals offers comprehensive dental care, cleanings, and early detection of periodontal disease.

Charlotte Natural Animal Clinic

Looking for a holistic alternative? Charlotte Natural Animal Clinic offers a range of services including non-anesthetic dental cleanings and dietary coaching. Check out their blog for monthly deals and alerts.

Uptown Veterinary Hospital

Uptown Veterinary Hospital is currently offering a pet dental cleaning package, complete with a full blood panel, half off during the month of February. Take advantage of this great offer while it lasts!

Griffin Exotics

Need a teeth trim for a bunny or a dental check-up for your hedgehog? This facility specializes in caring for avians and exotics. A knowledgeable and caring place to take your wild ones!

Looking for more ways to stay smiling in Charlotte? Give our friendly dog walkers a call and book your best friend’s next adventure! Our compassionate, dedicated staff of professional animal lovers are available for outings, home care, pet sitting, and so much more. New pet owner? Check out the first time cat owner’s guidebook and let us know what makes your furbaby smile!

February is Spay and Neuter Awareness Month

By February, winter is winding down and we’ve all got our minds turned to warmer weather and the brightness of spring. Unfortunately, spring can also bring tons of unexpected litters in cats and dogs, causing the overpopulation problem to grow. That’s why February is Spay and Neuter Awareness Month.

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Why does it matter? 

Did you know that by just the fourth year of fertility a single cat can have 20,736 offspring? A dog can have 4,372 puppies and grandpups by its seventh year of fertility. That’s a lot of paws on the ground and mouths to feed, and sadly, too many of them do not find suitable homes.

In fact, an estimated 6.5 million unwanted companion animals enter shelters every year. Stray and feral cats and dogs can also cause health hazards and nuisances in communities, making it difficult for responsible pet owners to take their pets outside and costing lots of money and volunteer hours to try to manage the problem.

What can be done? 

The best way to reduce the number of unwanted animals is to take responsibility for our pets and get them spayed or neutered. This ensures that our furry friends won’t be contributing to the overpopulation problem.

Spaying and neutering procedures are common veterinarian practices with straightforward recovery routines. Both kittens and puppies can be spayed or neutered at around 8 weeks of age, and juvenile procedures are preferred because younger pets heal faster and have fewer complications. However, adult animals are also eligible.

Why choose to spay/neuter? 

Many people think that spaying or neutering is unnecessary because they don’t intend to let their pet outside unattended and that there is no risk of reproduction. However, there are plenty of benefits to spaying and neutering even for pets where reproductive activity is unlikely.

Without the procedures, both females and males will have behavioral and physical conditions that many pet owners find undesirable and inconvenient. Female cats and dogs that have not been spayed will go through heat cycles. During this time, the animal may experience behavioral changes, appetite changes, and bleeding. Heat cycles can last 2-3 weeks. Dogs may experience a heat cycle up to three times a year (especially smaller dogs). Cats can experience very frequent heat cycles, with some going into heat every three weeks.

Male dogs and cats that have not been neutered will also have behavioral conditions associated with their drive to reproduce. Roaming, attempts to escape the house or yard when a nearby female is in heat, aggression, urine marking, and mounting (of objects, other animals, and even people!) can all be seen in unneutered male animals.

In addition to eliminating these unwanted behaviors, choosing to spay a female animal has health benefits. Both dogs and cats that are spayed have much lower incidences of uterine infections and breast tissue cancers. When the spaying procedure is performed before the female cat has had her first heat cycle, the risk is lowered even more.

Where can you go? 

If you are looking to take a responsible step and get your pet spayed or neutered during the month of February, keep an eye out for specials.

Residents of Mecklenburg County can get on the waitlist for free spay and neuter services from Animal Care and Control.

If you live outside of the county boundaries or don’t want to wait, there are some other local options as well:

The Humane Society of Charlotte offers services for dogs ($85 spay and $65 neuter) and cats ($50 spay and $35 neuter), pricing that includes post-surgery pain management.

Stand for Animals Veterinary Clinic offers monthly specials that often include spay and neuter services. Be sure to check out their February deals!

Wherever you choose to go, make sure that you take the time to schedule this important procedure for your furry friend. It’s the responsible thing to do to ensure that your pet has a long, healthy life and to keep your community safe as well!

Little Friends offers a wide variety of pet sitting and dog walking services in the Charlotte area. Contact us today for more information or to set up a free in-home consultation.

Healthy Eating Tips for Pets and the People Who Love Them

Beautiful tabby cat sitting next to a food bowl, placed on the floor next to the living room window, and eating.

Leap into the new year with a new perspective on health and wellness — for you and your pets! Looking for an accountability buddy? Look no further than your own furry best friend. Get in gear with these healthy eating tips for pets and the people who love them.

Ditch the Filler, Love the Fluff

Wholesome is healthy for both people and pets! If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Steer clear of chemicals and preservatives, such as BHT and BHA. These additives are harmful, known carcinogens to both people and pets. Food dyes are often added to pet food to create the red and yellow tint in dog or cat kibble. You might be surprised to find many of our favorite chips, cookies, and candies also use this trick. Be sure to read the ingredients on every bag to ensure your choices are healthful — not colorful.

Other fillers to avoid include rendered fat, blood and bone meal, corn, grain, and meat by-products. A healthful diet should be rich in essential fatty acids, protein, and nutrients. Switching to a natural diet will leave your fluffy friend glowing with improved coat and skin wellness. Keep them — and you — shining from the inside out!

Goodbye Gluten 

Yes, we said it. The “G” word. The grainy truth is that going gluten-free is a great way to detox, cleanse, and shed pounds. In humans, a gluten-free diet has been linked to overall improvement in immune system function. Gluten can cause bloating and fatigue, providing limited nutritional value in return. Even a gluten-limited lifestyle is dramatically beneficial in promoting wellness.

Making a change on your own is never easy. That’s why your furbaby is here to help! In dogs, gluten can cause or exasperate allergens, leading to red, itchy skin and ears. Most often found in low-quality dry food, gluten is a filler in disguise, taking the place of ingredients naturally found in the canine diet.

Cats are strict carnivores and should ideally be fed both a grain-free and gluten-free diet. High protein and low starch is key to kitty health.

Even the smallest furry friends, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas, aren’t safe from cheap pellet mixes with added cereal, treats, and — you guessed it — gluten. Opt for quality over fun colors or shapes when it comes to selecting the right diet for your tiny companion.

Pack in the Protein

You may have heard of the Ketogenic diet, but did you know pets crave a high protein, low carb diet too? A balanced ratio of quality protein with minimal carbs promotes energy and wellness. Test the protein boost out with an extra lap around the park!

Sensible Helpings

It’s easy to treat ourselves — and our pets — during the holidays. A little indulgence is fine every once in a while, but the new year is a great time to check in on portion sizes. Read nutritional information on the back of each bag and check in with your veterinarian for recommended feeding guidelines. Keeping a food journal can be a helpful way to track calories and stay on track.

Exotic Focus

There may be a wealth of options when it comes to feeding your cat or dog a natural, healthful diet, but exotic pet owners may need a little help when it comes to feeding their jungle beast. Birds, sugar gliders, and reptiles all require fresh food in their daily routine for kidney, liver, and overall wellness. Consulting an exotic pet veterinarian is the best way to determine which diet is right for your wild child. A host of fruits, vegetables, and yogurt on standby can provide encouragement to eat clean, fresh, and healthy alongside your pet!

For more sensible treat options, check out Charlotte’s First Cat Cafe.

Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking is here for your pet when you can’t be. With petsitting options for all creatures great and small, pawsitively outstanding dog walkers, and GPS tracking for your on-the-go pup, we’re here to help everyone stay on target in the new year! Contact us today to schedule your dog’s first adventure!

7 Tips for Keeping Your Charlotte Pets Warm This Winter

cat and dog wearing caps to stay warm in the cold outside snow

As the temperatures drop, it’s time to start thinking about all the ways you should be protecting your precious pets this winter. Different dogs and cats react to cold weather differently. Some breeds such as German Shepherds love to roll around in the snow, while small breeds such as Chihuahuas love hibernating in warm blankets for hours on end.

Even if your pet has a thick, heavy coat they can still get chilly in the winter months. Their ears are completely exposed, their paws are directly on frigid concrete, and their noses stick out in the fierce wind. Pets are also at risk for getting frostbite or hypothermia just as their humans are.

Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your pup from the cold weather! Many of the same safety protocols you take for yourself will also keep your best friend safe and cozy. Here are some great tips for you and your favorite pet sitter to follow this winter in Charlotte:

1. Limit Outdoor Time

This may seem like common sense, but it’s very important to follow. No specific breeds are meant to spend a large amount of time outside on the coldest days of winter, not even Alaskan sledding dogs! A quick 20-minute walk for exercise and potty time is perfect. Raise or lower this depending on the temperature and wind chill. If it’s extremely cold, have your dog do their business and get back inside as soon as possible.

Also, make sure to inform your pet sitter that it’s okay to skip a long walk for the day if it’s too frigid outside.

2. Know the Dangerous Warning Signs

If you and your pet are outdoors and you notice any of these signs, get them inside immediately as they could be symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia.

  • Completely stops moving or slows down noticeably
  • Whines or acts nervous/anxious
  • Can’t stop shivering
  • Seems weak
  • Starts rapidly looking for places to borrow for warmth
  • Has ice anywhere on their body

Once indoors, wrap your dog in blankets and call the vet if necessary. Any animal lover should know this information! Be sure to pass it along to pet sitters, neighbors, family and friends who may be watching your furry little friend.

3. Dress Warmly

Dogs and cats with short hair or small bodies need extra help to control their body heat in the winter. Puppies, kittens, and older dogs/cats also have harder times keeping warm. A sweater or coat can be a quick and great idea to help keep your pet more comfortable while indoors or outdoors.

4. Pump Up the Nutrients

Simply adding more protein and fat into your best friend’s diet will help keep their fur coats healthier and plentiful. The more fur they have the warmer they will be! Most pets will also need extra food and water in the winter since they’re burning many more calories to stay warm. It takes a lot of energy to increase body heat! Increase the times and amounts they’re fed each day to help keep them properly “fueled up” and ensure their pet sitter is aware of the feeding changes.

5. Don’t Leave Them Alone in the Car

You know the drill when it’s hot outside, not to leave your pet in the car. Well, the same goes for cold weather too. People don’t realize how quickly cars can cool down when it’s freezing outside. It turns into a refrigerator-like atmosphere very fast. Even if it’s for a short period of time, your pet will likely be very uncomfortable and it could result in a negative outcome. Leave them at home where they are safe and warm.

6. Provide Cozy Options

Just like you love cuddling up with a nice, warm blanket or bed, so does your pet! Leave them with a comfortable bed with a pillow or blanket to relax and sleep in. Make sure to provide these spots away from any drafts in your home and leave a note for the pet sitter to add more blankets if needed, especially for very small pets.

7. Put the Clippers Away

Your dog or cat’s coat provides an incredible amount of warmth. Be sure not to shave them down to their bare skin during the winter months. If your pet needs a haircut, make sure to leave a layer of fur so they can retain warmth properly. If your pet needs a bath make sure to dry them completely before taking them outside.

Don’t let your pooch shiver in shock from the weather this winter! By following these helpful tips and passing them along to your pet sitter, you and your pet will have a much more enjoyable winter. Contact Little Friends Pet Sitting and Dog Walking today for more information!