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.

striped-housecat-sitting-on-windowsill-near-potted-plant-in-springtime

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.

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.

woman-sitting-on-ground-outdoors-petting-yellow-labrador-retriever-with-grass-in-background

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!

How to keep your Cat’s happy & healthy!

What is there to know about cat toys  & the link to a cat’s happiness, you say?  A LOT!  “Cats are athletic creatures with amazing strength and agility.  Nature made them into perfect machines for leaping, jumping and dashing.  Just because your house kitty doesn’t have real prey to chase doesn’t mean she can’t act out her inner predator. Play gives them an outlet for their energy, mental and physical stimulation, the opportunity to satisfy their instinctual hunting drive and a chance to bond with you.” (http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/cat_toys.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/)

Cat toys today are on a whole new level…they even have cat boxes delivered to your door step (like Barkbox, but for your kitties)!  See below for the link to become a monthly subscriber:)

There are all kinds of ways to spoil your cats and we all know every cat needs a toy or two.  And yes, the free way of entertaining your cats still exists–using the good old empty cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels, will always work.

“There are several toys that can help keep them occupied, while stimulating and challenging their curiosity and intelligence. The exercise certainly helps, too.” *(https://www.thespruce.com/toys-for-cats-home-alone-554647)


Here are some toys to keep your cat stimulated and entertained while you are away:

  1. Interactive Bird DVD’s
  2. Peek A Prize Toy Prize
  3. Catnip Cigars
  4. Interactive and automatic cat balls (catnip optional)
  5. Mylar Balls (think shiny!)
  6. Paper Shopping Bags
  7. Cardboard boxes
  8. Rubber bands

If you are the type that likes to get creative and DIY, here are some cool options as well (for more info. & instructions for the following toys, please go to https://www.worldsbestcatlitter.com/clearing-the-air/2014/03/the-10-best-homemade-cat-toys/ :

1. HOMEMADE CATNIP YARN BALLS: Transform glue, catnip, yarn, and Styrofoam balls into irresistible homemade cat toys.

2. HOMEMADE TOILET PAPER ROLL CAT TOY: Save the tubes from your toilet paper rolls, and you can make anything from a cool sphere to a treat rattle.

3. FEATHER CAT POUNCE TOY: We love these felt “feathers”—and the little bell is music to our ears.

4. CAT TRANSIT SYSTEM: For DIYers with serious metalworking skills, here’s an outrageous way to route cat traffic in your home.

5. HOMEMADE CAT TOYS MADE FROM SOCKS: Finally, a use for all those lone socks who’ve lost their mates.

6. CARDBOARD CAT PALACE: Take your cat’s love of a good cardboard box to the next level.

7. PRACTICALLY FREE HOMEMADE MOUSE TOY: Download an adorable mouse template, break out the cardboard and scissors, and voila! Hours of feline entertainment.

8. SUPER SIMPLE PIPE CLEANER CAT TOY: This one’s so easy, your kids can make it! All you need are a few pipe cleaners—the shinier the better.

9. COMPUTER MOUSE CAT TOY: Rummage through your old computer junk to make this super-cute homemade cat toy.

10. MENSWEAR MICE: Have you been meaning to weed out your closet? Here’s a use for all those old shirts and suit jackets that don’t fit anymore!


Now, more on those pawsome monthly cat boxes sent to your door—–they are called KitNipBox and the boxes contain high-quality cat toys, all-natural treats, and other fun, healthy cat products.  Click on the following link for examples of what you can find in your cat’s box: https://s3.amazonaws.com/KitNipBox/Emails/Sample+Product+Insert+for+Website.pdf

https://www.kitnipbox.com/?wm_crID=53856589&wm_lpID=179787508&wm_ctID=549&wm_kwID=112341206&wm_m_crID=81913628104636&wm_m_kwID=134167196409&wm_m_qs=cat+toys&wm_m_mt=e&wm_m_device=c&wm_m_phyloc=&wm_m_intloc=&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=General%20-%20Cat%20-%20Exact&utm_term=cat%20toys&utm_content=Cat%20Toy&gclid=CICLhq-e_dUCFQnRgQodvdwDqA&gclsrc=ds&wm_kw=cat+toys&wm_sd=1#how

Lastly, any cat can get bored of their toys…to ensure they do not get bored–rotate them out each week or month.  Of course, interactive toys are the best as they strengthen the bond between you and your cat. Found toys are often more popular than introduced toys.  Cats also love “hide & seek” of course.  Just plain old human interaction, a little love and TLC.