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

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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!

Traveling for the Holidays? Helpful Services and Tips for a Calm Dog

a calm dog sitting in a suitcase being packed by its owner

With the holiday season approaching, it’s time to start planning flights, renting cars, and most importantly, deciding what to do so that you have a calm dog even while you’re away. Whether you have a new dog or are traveling for the first time, panic can easily start to set in as you think about the best plan.

Take a deep breath and relax, because the answer is simple – hire a pet sitter! By hiring a professional pet sitter you will reduce your pet’s stress and anxiety levels tremendously, as well as your own. After all, your dog is a member of your family and deserves the best care. Your pup will feel more relaxed staying in their familiar home environment and keeping up with their usual schedule.

If you’re located in or around the Charlotte, NC area, Little Friends Pet Sitting has a team of excellent, caring, and insured pet sitters ready to help you! We’re here to offer services and tips to guarantee a happy holiday season for both you and your favorite four-legged cuddle buddy.

Quality Bonding Time

Before you hit the road, spend some extra quality time together to help ensure you have a calm dog. Every minute counts, and they will 100% appreciate it! Whether it’s extra snuggles on the couch, more walks and runs, or play time, this can help both of you mentally before you leave. Our sitters are expert cuddlers, so they’ll get plenty of love and companionship during their visits.

Free In-Home Consultation

Little Friends Pet Sitting offers one free in-home consultation with the pet sitter to help you and your dog feel more comfortable before the big day. They can also answer any questions you have. Your dog will feel as if they’re staying with someone they know and trust, rather than a total stranger.

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

Our pet sitters will give your dog nice, long walks midday or any other time you choose. This is all tracked conveniently on a virtual log and GPS report for your viewing. Sitters can also play with your dog to engage their minds and tire them out. Exercise and play time will help make sure you have a relaxed and calm dog while you’re away!

Confident, Cheerful Vibes

Dogs are experts at picking up on human’s emotions (especially THEIR humans!). If you’re feeling sad, anxious, or stressed about leaving your dog, they will likely feel it too. On the flip side, if you’re comfortable and relaxed, your dog will be the same way. Our sitters will be there to swoop in and save the day after you leave with love, cheerful vibes, and lots of wonderful belly scratches.

Flexible Times

Not only are our pet sitters insured, bonded, background check approved and experienced, they’re also super flexible. Our services begin as early as 7 am and go til as late as 10 pm. No matter what your dog’s typical schedule is, we will ensure it stays consistent every day.

Provide Distractions

Buy a few new toys like a KONG, treat puzzle, or others to give your dog on the day you leave. A brand new distraction will help keep their mind happy and busy as you leave. You can even leave a note for the pet sitter to give your dog a new treat or toy each day when they’re visiting.

24/7 Communication

A great benefit of having a pet sitter is that you can easily check up on your pup. Are you curious to know if they’re eating, exercising, sleeping, and happy? Your pet sitter can answer all of these questions and more via text each time they visit. It’ll put a huge smile on your face knowing that you have a happy, well cared for, and calm dog. We also offer a free 365/24/7 hour hotline to all of our clients!

Bring Home a Surprise

While you’re away on your holiday trip, explore a cute dog boutique in the area and purchase your dog a new treat! Bringing them home something special will give you something to look forward to, and ensure extra tail wagging and wet kisses as you return.

Little Friends Pet Sitting Saves the Holidays

There’s no doubt about it, your dog will miss you just as much as you will miss them. Be sure to plan ahead this holiday season by hiring a trustworthy, professional pet sitter at Little Friends Pet Sitting. Our experienced pet sitters are ready to give your dog all the one-on-one attention and love in the world while you’re away! Not only will your fur baby be able to stay in their relaxed home environment, but you will also get a built-in house sitter to check your mail, water plants, and reduce the chances of any unwanted vandalism. Less stress is possible for everyone this holiday season with a trusty pet sitter.

Peace of mind is just a phone call away. Contact us 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!

Pet Sitting in Charlotte: 5 Benefits of In-Home Pet Sitting

One major factor when planning an out-of-town trip is deciding who to care for your beloved pets. In a bustling city like Charlotte, busy schedules require keeping a reliable and animal-loving sitter on speed dial. Animal boarding facilities can be loud, messy, and stressful. Dumping your pets on friends can be an awkward and inconvenient practice.

The solution? In-home pet sitting, where a trusted animal lover stays in your own home and provides care for your four-legged family members. Here are five major benefits of in-home pet sitting:

Built-in house sitter

With in-home pet sitting, you have peace of mind knowing the lights are on and someone is home. While away, you can be sure that your mail is getting checked, plants are watered, and other home maintenance is being performed.

Best of all, chances that your house will be the target of burglary or vandalism are greatly reduced. Though you will be away, your home will continue to operate as normal. The mailman will still get barked at, and the cat will still be providing neighborhood watch services at her favorite perch by the window.

Familiar environment 

Keeping pets at home during your time away makes for the easiest transition. Many pets experience anxiety and nervousness, so yanking them out of their familiar environment can send them into a panic. Anxious pets may stop eating and sleeping, or engage in destructive behaviors.

Your pet isn’t accustomed to the different sights, sounds, and smells that often accompany an animal boarding facility. The drastic change can wreak havoc on their nervous and immune systems. Keeping your pet in the comfort of his home is the best way for him to adapt to your time away.

Keeps routines running smoothly

When you board your furry friend, though the caretakers may be great at their job, you cannot control the way they run their kennel. If Rover is used to his 6:00am potty and 7:00am breakfast, unfortunately, he probably won’t be on such a tight schedule away from home. Disrupted routines can increase anxiety in your pet. With in-home pet sitting, you can be sure that routines will stay very close to what they usually are, and he will get the feedings, walks, baths, and play times that he is used to.

More one-on-one attention

Even the most well-staffed boarding facility does not have enough employees to provide one-on-one attention to your pet. Often, boarded animals spend hours in a cage, and don’t get enough attention from their human caretakers. In-home pet sitting provides ample time for your pet’s sitter to snuggle, play with, and love on your fur baby. When your pet is safe at home, you can rest easy, knowing that they won’t be ignored.

Your baby is already there when you get home!

This is the best reason of all to opt for in-home pet sitting: you don’t have to deal with picking up your pet from the kennel. Sometimes after a trip, pet owners have to wait to be able to bring their animal home, due to staffed kennel hours. But with in-home pet sitting, your beloved pet is right where you left him. No need to make an extra trip through Charlotte rush hour traffic before landing at home sweet home.

Don’t let the stress of finding a sitter for your pets keep you from your next vacation. For exceptional in-home pet sitting in Charlotte, check out Little Friends Pet Sitting. Our experienced pet sitters are here to give your fur babies the love and attention they’d otherwise get from you. Looking for more tips and news for pet owners in Charlotte? Check out our other blog posts!

4 Fun Ways to Keep Your Fur Baby From Being Bored

bored dog little friends

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.