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!

Help Your Pup Enjoy the Season With These Fall Treats for Dogs

small dog fall sweater

Fall is the time of pumpkin spice, apple cider and, especially in Charlotte, beautiful fall colors. With the changing leaves all around us, autumn also brings an opportunity to change up your pup’s usual treats and inject some fun fall flavors into his world, too.

Before you start planning your dog’s fall feast, be sure to check out the AKC’s guide to dog-safe fruits and veggies for a rundown on what seasonal produce is safe for canine consumption. Then shop for a few staples — pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, pears and many fall squashes are all safe for dogs. Here are our favorite ideas for fall treats for dogs:

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is chock-full of health benefits for your dog. With vitamins A, C, and E as well as potassium, iron, and fiber, pumpkin has long been used to aid upset stomachs or diarrhea in dogs. Since raw pumpkin isn’t easily digestible for your pup, the easiest option is to pick up some canned pumpkin puree. Be sure it’s plain pumpkin, though, and not pumpkin pie filling!

For a delicious treat that can also help stave off boredom, fill a hollow bone with a mix of pumpkin puree and plain yogurt, then freeze. Pull it out once hardened for a pumpkin flavored treat your pup is sure to love. Because it’s frozen, it will take him a little longer to get at the yummy filling, which will help to keep him occupied if you’ll be away from home for a while.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are also superstar dog snacks. They are high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins B and C. Like pumpkins, they aren’t terrific for your pup’s tummy when they are raw, but they can be sliced into chips and baked at your oven’s lowest setting for several hours to make a crispy, crunchy fall snack. Or try making your own sweet potato treats using a little whole wheat flour, eggs, and applesauce. Peeled, cubed and cooked sweet potatoes can also make a great occasional treat when added to your dog’s regular meal.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is another standout that’s rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber. You can substitute cooked butternut squash for sweet potato in most dog treat recipes, or just like sweet potatoes, you can slice and bake them for a few hours to create crisp chips. Another popular fall flavor, cinnamon, is also safe for dogs, so feel free to sprinkle a little on your squash before baking for a little extra flavor. Steer clear of adding sugar or nutmeg, though. Nutmeg, especially, can be harmful to your furbaby.

Apples

Apples are full of vitamins A, C, and fiber, and add a delicious natural sweetness to your pup’s treats. Peeled and cubed apples actually make a tasty training treat all by themselves. Just make sure to keep them bite-sized, then pop some into a plastic baggy and you’re ready to use them as a training reward.

You can also peel and core an apple, slice it into rings and freeze. Pull out a frozen ring and smear it with a dab of peanut butter for a yummy snack. Another tasty and festive option are these cranberry apple mint treats that look just as delicious as human holiday cookies. To save time, unsweetened applesauce is a great alternative to fresh apples. Just be sure to get the variety that has no added sugar.

Pears

Pears are high in Vitamin C and K as well as fiber, so they are a great choice for a fall surprise. Make sure to remove the seeds, as those aren’t healthy for your pup to ingest. Try mixing some unsweetened applesauce with bite-sized chunks of pear, then spoon it carefully into a KONG or other refillable toy. Pop it in the freezer to create another healthy, long-lasting treat that will keep your dog entertained while he snacks. Of course, like most of these fall favorites, you can slice and bake pear chips, too!

It can be lots of fun and even healthy to share some autumn flavors with your favorite dog. As with any kind of special treats, though, make sure to share fall treats and produce with your dog in moderation. Too much of anything out of the ordinary, even healthy treats, can upset your pet’s stomach.

Fall is a busy, beautiful season in Charlotte. When your plans keep you away from home and you want to make sure your pup is well taken care of, Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking is here for you! Contact us today to schedule your dog’s next walk, pet taxi ride or pet-sitting service. We’d love to meet you and your furry best friend!

4 Fun Ways to Keep Your Fur Baby From Being Bored

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Think about the last time that you were really, incredibly, unbearably bored. Perhaps you got restless and paced around the house, turned on Netflix and cycled through a dozen possible choices before tossing the remote in frustration, searched the refrigerator even though you weren’t really hungry. Boredom has a way of gnawing at us and sending us scrambling for something—anything!—to help us feel engaged and entertained.

Now imagine that you have that feeling, but you can’t turn on Netflix or go outside for a run. You’re stuck in the house with no one to play with and nothing to do, but the need to do something is boiling up inside you.

Put into this context, it’s suddenly a lot more understandable to see the couch cushions torn to bits, the trash strewn all over the house, the lamps toppled from the end table, and your favorite pair of slippers in pieces. When your fur baby is bored, there aren’t many outlets available, and your beloved possessions often take the toll.

The best way to deal with unwanted boredom behavior is to nip boredom in the bud. Here are four ways to keep your fur baby entertained—and your stuff safe!

1. Busy Toys

When you have to be away from your home and leave your furry friend behind, make sure you leave some toys that are safe for chewing and cannot be easily destroyed. The best ones are toys that will keep your dog entertained for long periods of time. You can try toys that have to be turned like mazes in order to dispense a treat. Other toys have a hard chew in the center that is difficult to reach. For the best results, mix up which toys you leave out so that there is always something new on hand.

2. Hit the Dog Park 

Just like us, our furry friends adjust better when they have a chance to explore the great outdoors and get some fresh air. Luckily, Charlotte boasts a number of great dog parks that can give your pup the exercise and engagement she needs. Frazier Dog Park offers walking trails and separate areas for big and little dogs to help keep playtime safe for everyone. Reedy Creek Park features a separate play area for pups adorably named Barkingham Park. Bring your dogs for some fun in the sun (or the mud)!

3. Get a Dog Walker

You can tire your pup out all you want on the weekends, but if you’re going to be away for long stretches of time during the day, there’s no way to get your fur baby the stimulation he needs without calling in some reinforcements. Finding a trusted dog walker who can become an extended family for your pooch is a great way to get him the exercise he needs even when you’re busy. You can come home to a happy pet who is ready to give you some love at the end of the day instead of an anxious pup—and a destroyed house.

4. Stay Connected

Technology is advancing in just about every area of human existence, and our furry friends aren’t getting left out of the equation. Why not equip your house with cameras and speakers that let you see and talk to your pet while you’re away? Connect the devices to your phone so that your pet never has to be alone for long.

Keeping your pet entertained and engaged isn’t just a way to keep your stuff from getting shredded. It’s a necessary component of being a good pet parent. Beat the boredom and provide your pet with the mental and physical stimulation necessary to stay happy and healthy today! At Little Friends, we help keep your dog happy with our dog walking and pet sitting services.

8 Ways to Keep Your Dog Hydrated this Summer

dog hydrated tips puppies drinking

Summer is the perfect time to get out and enjoy family and friends. Not only for you but for your furry family as well. Dogs enjoy getting out playing with other dogs and just having the freedom to roam and explore their surroundings. However, the summer months in the South can be detrimental to the health of your pet. It is important to learn how to keep your dog hydrated and safe during these hot months.

Recognize Signs of Dehydration in Dogs

Help your pet by learning the signs of dehydration. Signs of dehydration include loss of energy, excessive panting, and your dog’s eyes might appear sunken. Your dog might also have dry and sticky gums. If dehydration has reached this level in your dog, call your veterinarian immediately. Your pet will need to have their fluids replenished and be monitored to avoid their condition deteriorating.

Know Daily Water Recommendations

Your dog needs one ounce of water for each pound they weigh. If your pet weighs 30 pounds they will need 30 ounces of water a day. It does not hurt them to take more water in during hot months. Keep a close eye on how much your pet is drinking each day. It is a great idea to measure out their water to ensure they are getting the proper amount. Check your pet’s water bowl a few times during the day and refill it with fresh water as needed.

Provide Shade for Your Pet

Furry pets need a lot of shade in the South during hot months.  If you are relaxing in the shade or air conditioner, your pet should have a cool spot they can retreat to as well. At times, you might have to encourage your pet to go to their shaded area and relax.

Add Water to Dog Food

Consider offering your dog more wet food during summer months. If your dog is not drinking enough water on its own, you might also consider adding a little water to their dry food. Dry food is not high in water, so adding a little is a genius way to get more water into your furry friend.

Keep Water on Hand

Since summers in the South are extremely hot, most people keep cool bottles of water on hand. When planning a trip outside the home, always take extra bottles along for your pets. Just as easy people become overheated riding in a car with no air condition, so can your pet. If your pet does become overheated or slightly dehydrated, with bottles of water on hand, you can act quickly.

Provide Frozen Treats for Your Pet

Everyone loves frozen treats whether its ice cream or popsicles. Your dog will love them too. You can purchase these treats in just about any store that sells dog food. Also, consider making your own frozen treats for your pet. Frozen broth is a great treat for dogs. It is a great way to give your pet something tasty and keep them cool and hydrated.

Keep Your Dog Groomed

Keep your dog well-groomed during the hot months. Not only will they look better, but they will feel better too. Your dog’s undercoat is actually part of their natural cooling system, but if not properly maintained it can become matted and prevent the necessary air flow across your pet’s skin.

Purchase a Kiddie Pool

Set up a kiddie pool in a cool and shaded area for your dog. Fill it with water so that your pet can take a cool dip when needed. If your dog has no problem with being in water, it will appreciate you showing love with this quick and convenient way for them to splash around and cool down.

To find out more about keeping your dog happy, safe, and healthy in the hot South this summer visit us.

 

Summertime Safety Tips for Dogs in Charlotte

Summer heat in the south can be a scorcher, especially in July and August. Humidity levels can reach 90% and temperatures get well into the high 90s. It’s hot for those of us who grew up in this weather, and even hotter for those who didn’t! Humans and pets need to be mindful of the summer heat- it can zap you before you even realize it.

Often times, transplants from other states aren’t accustomed to the North Carolina heat and humidity. Newcomers to Charlotte need to take precaution when summer rolls around, not just for themselves, but for their pets! Pets that aren’t used to high temperatures and humidity need extra attention during the hot summer months.

So here are just a few helpful tips to get your dogs through a blistering summer weather season:

Don’t Ever Leave Your Pet in a Car, Even With Windows Cracked!

It’s never a good idea to leave your dog in your car, even if you have the windows cracked. In a matter of minutes the temperature can skyrocket to dangerous temperatures. A pet or a human sitting in a car on a hot day with no air conditioning, is like having a belt of steel wrapped around them. And that same car, sitting on asphalt or concrete, gets even hotter. Dogs have a hard time keeping themselves cool- even with windows cracked, they can overheat and dehydrate in no time. Those of you that are new to Charlotte: you may have been able to do this in your cooler and less humid home states, but this is not something that you can do in the south! Please be mindful and help spread the word.

Plan Your Dog Walks in Early Mornings or Late Evenings

If you’re new to Charlotte, you’ll soon learn that you’ll hear a lot of summer weather reports regarding the daily temperature, the humidity level, and the heat index. For lack of better words, the heat index is basically the “feels like” temperature. For example, the temperature may be 95 degrees, which is already hot!…but with the humidity level factored in, the Heat Index, or “feels like” temperature may be 105 degrees! On these super hot days, it’s best to walk your dog in the early mornings or the late evenings. When you and your pet start walking down a concrete sidewalk or an asphalt road, that’s going to make that hot summer weather even hotter on delicate paws! So stay inside as much as you can, especially on those ultra-hot days. Save the dog walking activities for the cooler parts of the day.

Keep a Dog Travel Bag Packed

If you’re the type that frequently brings your dog around town on shopping trips or to one of the many beer gardens in Charlotte, it’s a good idea to have a dog travel bag with you. With all the pet-friendly stores and restaurants that welcome pets these days, it’s nice to be able to bring you best fur friend with you on those little excursions. But when you do, make sure you bring their personal supplies, such as a bowl for drinking, a bottle of water, and maybe a washcloth for cooling down their face.

It’s better to be safe than sorry! If you’re always prepared with your dog’s travel bag then you never have to waste time improvising; we all know what it’s like to have to scramble around and pinch off the top of a Styrofoam cup so your dog can have something to drink out of when you’re away from home. So be prepared with your dog travel bag!

Have Multiple Water Bowls

If you live in a house with a fenced yard, and your dog is primarily an outside dog, it’s also a good idea to have multiple water buckets in areas that stay shaded. One drinking bowl for your dog is never the safest or smartest thing to do; it could always get knocked over, or your dog could drink all the water. So having several big buckets of water in strategic places is the best route to go. The more water the better! Don’t forget to check those water bowls daily! If your dogs stay in at night but romp around in the yard all day, check those water bowls! Make sure they have clean, fresh drinking water. Dogs can spend a day without lunch, but it’s not the same for water, especially in the summer heat.

Make Use of Plastic Kiddie Pools and Shade

You can never go wrong with a hard plastic kiddie pool. When summer rolls around you can find these pools at most big box stores. Putting one of these little pools under a shade tree just gives your dog yet another way to stay cool during the summer heat. Little dogs aren’t always the fastest to jump in a pool, but the bigger breeds love them! For $10 bucks, you can’t go wrong! And in an emergency, it’s yet another drinking source for your dog.

Look for Pet Products Designed For Summer Weather

There are all sorts of specialty products designed for your pets to help tackle the summer heat. One product in particular is the Kool Collar. These cooling collars are filled with ice cubes. Another product that you can buy to help tackle summer humidity and heat is the Cooling Dog Collar Bandana. Remember though, none of this specialty dog cooling gear is intended to take the place of common sense and drinking water. They’re just a little something extra to help take the edge off on the super hot days.

Here at Little Friends Pet Sitting and Dog Walking, we wish you and your pet a safe and cool summer. We cannot stress enough to keep up with the daily summer weather forecast and have plenty of water available for your pets. Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or concerns and keep us in mind for any of your pet sitting or dog walking needs.

 

 

 

 

 

The Raw Truth: Raw Food Diets for Pets

 

We love our fur children. We want the best for them as pet parents and the healthiest lifestyle we can provide. We emphasize giving them plenty of exercise, socialization with other humans and animals, vitamins and supplements, and, of course, the best nutrition and food diet(s) as possible. Throughout the years, numerous “trends” have evolved for our pets that, as their parents, we jump on to ensure our beloved babies have the healthiest life we can give to them.

Recently, a newer and popular trend is switching our pets to a raw food diet. But, what exactly is a raw food diet? Is it the best option for my pet(s)? Is it safe? Is it time consuming to prepare? Is it expensive? When should I make the switch? How should I switch them? And, the questions keep going…until now. Here is the low down and what you need to know.

 

A good diet can contribute to a long and healthy life and even psychological well-being for our pets.

 

Most of us give our pets the traditional dry and/or canned food as their meal. When the organic versions of these foods released, you may have started giving your pet this “healthier” option. Lately, there has been a newer option available- Raw Food. A raw diet is a more “natural” diet for our pets. There are two major types of raw diets: commercial and home-prepared. Commercial raw diets, which may be fresh or frozen, supply all of the dog’s requirements and are typically in a meat patty form.

 

Home-prepared raw diets usually consist of raw meat and bones, with veggies, fruits, supplements, and added grains. These diets may not be balanced each day but, if designed properly, should meet the dog’s requirements over the long term.

 

A raw food diet for our pets is controversial, however, the popularity is rising amongst pet owners. Raw food diets consists of raw meat, bones, fruits & vegetables. There are positive benefits like shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, smaller stools and higher energy levels.

 

A raw food diet typically consists of muscle meat (often still on the bone), organ meats such as livers and kidneys, bones (whole or ground), raw eggs, vegetables like broccoli, spinach & celery, apples and other fruits, and some dairy such as yogurt and cottage cheese.

 

Over the past couple of years, there have been a number of pet food recalls. When preparing your dog’s food at home, you have total control of what you include in your dog’s food and where those ingredients are from.

 

Raw diets (especially home-made diets) allow you to meet your dog’s specific needs. Raw diets can be prepared to avoid foods that your dog is allergic to and can be made to meet your dog’s specific nutrient requirements. The high water content present in raw food may allow you to feed more while still keeping the calories low for your pet.

Processed foods often have added preservatives that enhance product shelf life. Food that has been freshly prepared and has not been processed or had preservatives added is commonly considered a healthier choice. Commercial raw diets are usually frozen, which means they don’t require added preservatives.

 

The bones that are part of the raw diet are anecdotally considered to be good for dental hygiene, which can be good for overall health.

Feeding a raw diet may provide your dog with a natural outlet for their chewing tendencies; this may help to improve her overall behavior.

 

Some pet owners prefer to purchase these items and make their own meals for their pets. Whereas, others may prefer to purchase commercially processed raw food diets that are frozen or freeze-dried and/or combination diets that use blends of grains, vegetables, and vitamins that are mixed with raw meat purchased by the owner at the grocery store. For most pets, it is more beneficial than processed foods.

 

Feeding raw food is expensive and time consuming. The cost of a raw dog food diet varies with the ingredients used and how it is prepared. For a 30-pound dog, a one-day supply of one variety of a frozen, commercially available raw chicken diet costs about $2.50; others may range up to $5 a day. A super-premium, commercial dry dog food costs about $1.

 

The preparation of balanced meals for your dog every day can be a challenge to fit into a busy lifestyle. As a rule of thumb, if you are eating out more than three meals a week, you are likely too busy to properly prepare meals for your dog, so a homemade raw diet may not be the best choice for your life schedule.

 

However, there are some risk factors associated with feeding a raw diet to your pet.  

Raw diets have been found to contain Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Clostridium botulinium, and Staphylococcus aureus, all of which are known human and canine pathogens. These bacteria are shed in dog stools and may be transferred to carpets and furniture as the dog moves around the house. These pathogens usually only pose a serious human risk to the immuno-compromised, the elderly, and young children; however, this is a very important consideration if you are feeding a raw diet and have people in these risk groups living in your home.

 

In addition, there is a potential risk to dogs from certain pathogens found in raw foods, such as Neospora caninum, found in raw beef, Nanophyetus salmincola, found in raw salmon, and Trichinella spiralis, which  is found in raw pork and wild game such as deer, elk, and moose. All of these pathogens can make your dog sick and are potentially fatal.

 

Feeding bones can cause choking, intestinal blockage or perforations, and chipped or broken teeth.

Because it can be difficult and time consuming to adequately balance a raw diet, nutritional deficiencies, especially in vitamins and minerals, are a significant possibility. To complicate the matter even further, some nutritional deficiencies take many months to show up and you may not see the problems with feeding a particular diet until the animal has been eating it for months or years.

 

Raw vegetables are often poorly digested by dogs. Most of the nutrients in raw vegetables are rendered more available when they are lightly cooked and then ground.

 

Much of the existing research on raw diets surrounds the microbial risks of raw meats and is very important to take into consideration. Also, a raw diet is not beneficial with puppies or kittens and more for the “older” pet. If you don’t get the calcium and phosphorous ratio right, you can have bone deformities and growth issues.

 

Needless to say, if you are on the fence about switching your pet(s) to a raw food diet, or you know you are ready to do so, it is best to discuss with your veterinarian FIRST before taking the plunge. Your vet knows your pet’s health the best and will be able to advise if the switch would be beneficial and safe for them. They will also give instruction on how to safely make the switch for your pets and will educate you on this type of diet geared for your fur baby.

 

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/raw-dog-food-dietary-concerns-benefits-and-risks

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