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Valley Fever

I can completely sympathize with families who have pets with valley fever.  My dog, Magic, has recently been diagnosed with valley fever and from first hand experience….it’s AWFUL!  My heart breaks and goes out to anyone who has had experience with valley fever or is now experiencing it.  I have several goals behind this article:

  1. Explain signs and symptoms so you can be proactive in testing for valley fever

  2. To offer some suggestions on how to keep your pet eating

  3. To let you  know that you aren’t alone

    Dogs with Valley Fever

The most common signs of Valley Fever are:

  • Coughing

  • Fever

  • Weight Loss

  • Lack of Appetite

  • Lack of Energy

The best website I have found that explains Valley Fever in dogs (and cats) is the Valley Fever Center for Excellence website.  “Two-thirds of all U.S. Valley Fever infections are contracted in Arizona. Nationally, Valley Fever is uncommon and considered an orphan disease. Yet it is so concentrated in Arizona that this state needed an advocate to promote improvements in understanding, medical care, and research about this disease. For this reason the Arizona Board of Regents approved the proposal for the creation of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona.”   This website is great for understanding Valley Fever, where it comes from, the signs and symptoms and treatment.  However, it does not discuss what pet parents can/should do if their pet is refusing to eat.  The BIGGEST and HARDEST setback I have had to overcome with my own case.

You KNOW when you have a Golden Retriever that if they stop eating, something is definitely wrong.  My scrounge hound hasn’t eaten a good solid meal in weeks.  This does not help the healing process and if he doesn’t start eating something he may need to be hospitalized, or worse, have a feeding tube surgically implanted.  It breaks my heart every day when he turns his nose up at his meals.  I’m feeding him people food for heavens sake!  A dog’s wet dream! People food being shoved down his throat and he still isn’t interested.  SO FRUSTRATING!

Dogs with Valley Fever

This is what our daily routine looks like:

Mom buys canned food to mix in with his kibble.  Yeah!  He loves it!  We’re good to go for a couple meals….then, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.  Now what?

Mom finds something in the fridge that may seem palatable.  Boiled chicken and rice…let’s try that.  Yeah!  He scarfs that down…for 2-3 meals then he’s done.  He wants no more of it.  Now what?

What about ground beef?  He takes a lick or two…nope. Not for him.

Let’s take a trip to the local pet store and see what we can find.  Oooh…a cooler full of fresh, natural food.  Let’s buy a tube and see what he thinks.  YES!  He loves it!  Scarfed down almost a full portion size…YAY!  Hoping he likes it at dinner time.  Yep!  We are good to go…for one more meal, then he’s done with it…wants nothing to do with it.  Now what?

Dogs with Valley Fever

Baby food?  Maybe we’ll give that a try today.

My suggestions (and I’m not a veterinarian and suggest discussing options with your vet):

  • Try different foods that are aromatic

  • Stop thinking if you switch their food often they will become picky eaters.  Remember, they are sick and really don’t want to eat, but they HAVE to eat to keep their immune system and energy levels up.

  • Try feeding at different times of the day.  Magic wouldn’t touch his food this morning, but devoured the same food this afternoon.

  • Go raw.  People food is fine to feed your dog as long as you don’t add any toxic foods or spices to it.

It can be very frustrating and heart breaking when you know your dog is sick and they refuse to eat or is suffering some other horrible side affect of Fluconazole.  Remember that you aren’t alone.  Lots of other people are going through what you are going through.  Sometimes it helps just to talk to someone that has experienced valley fever with their pets and have the reassurance that your dog will get better.  If you need some moral support, suggestions on types of food to try or would like more information on valley fever in your area give me a call.  I certainly know what you are going through!

Keep Pets Out of the Heat this Summer

Arizona summer months can be brutal to our furry friends.  The heat index can rise to 122 degrees and higher.  A heat advisory is issued when temperatures are expected to raise well above the norm.

Keep Your Pets InsideDid you know that a dog can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke in temperatures like this?  This can happen on a walk or even in your own backyard.  As a pet sitter I advise all my clients to keep their pets inside when it starts getting hot outside and to leave their pets at home rather than bringing them along for a car ride. The inside of a car can heat up quickly leaving your pet defenseless and subject to heat stroke.

Some signs of heat stroke are:

  Rapid Breathing

  Heavy Panting

  Salvation

  Fatigue

  Muscle Tremor

  Staggering

Dog breeds that don’t like heat:

  Overweight dogs

  Elderly dogs

  Boxers

  Bulldogs

  Pugs

  Boston Terriers

  Lhasa Apsos

  Shih Tzus

  And any other snub nosed dog breed

If you have any of the above listed breeds you should really keep them inside all the time and let them bask in the glory of the air conditioning.  This is the environment they will do best in.

If you don’t have a doggy door it can sometimes be difficult to leave your pet(s) inside for long periods while you are at work.  It can also be stressful for a dog that needs to relieve themselves but are unable to.

Play Time Pet Care offers doggy potty breaks, or, mid – day visits, which will alleviate the stress from your dog as well as the guilt you may be feeling by leaving him inside all day. Not only do you get a personal pet sitter that will let your dog out in the middle of the day, she will also play with and love your dog while she is there, making your pet a little calmer when you arrive home.

Don’t Let This Happen To Your Dog

The Arizona summers are brutal on our pets.  Don’t let your dog suffer from heatstroke.  Heatstroke in dogs is preventable if you take the appropriate precautions.

On Father’s Day, the Arizona news stations reported about a dog who’s pet owner took them hiking in the middle of the afternoon and the paramedics were brought in to help save the dog’s life.  Full article

Here are some simple rules to follow when exercising with your dog in the heat of Arizona summers:

  1. Keep all strenuous exercise activities limited to the early morning hours.  BEFORE the heat rises to above 90 degrees.

  2. Have plenty of water available for your dog during this time.

  3. Make sure you take plenty of rest breaks in the shade.

  4. Allow your dog to rest and play in the cool air conditioned house during the hottest part of the day. (From 3pm – 6pm)

  5. DON’T GO HIKING OR MAKE YOUR DOG RUN IN TRIPLE DIGIT TEMPS.

As the news video explains, dog’s cooling systems are not as good as human’s.  They cool down by panting and have sweat glands in their paws, but it is not very affective.  When dogs are kept indoors, in the air conditioning, they have a hard time adapting to hot temperatures.

Keep your dogs save this summer!

How Does Pet Sitting Compare to Healthcare?

I don’t want to use this article as a way to express my opinions on the health care system one way or the other.  Rather, I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss how pet sitting compares to healthcare in it’s new state once Obamacare takes hold.

It is inevitable that we will see some changes in our healthcare system.  One change, which will be a big one, is that we may see physicians NOT participate in taking insurance.  Why would a physician drop out of the insurance game?  There are several reasons:

1.  They won’t need as much overhead in the office to process claims.  Which means more money in their pocket.

2.  They will be able to provide better service to their patients.  By not having a revolving door of patients to satisfy their monetary goals, they will have more time to spend with each patient, getting to know them and their history.

3.  Patients will receive quality care, rather than just being another chart to review.  (Quality vs Quantity)

What does this mean to the patient?

You may pay a little more going the private pay route (say a $75 visit rather than a $35 co-pay), but, you will get better service.

As a patient, you will receive personal care from your physician rather than being just another chart that is reviewed 5 minutes before the doctor sees you.

Doesn’t that sound so much better than being involved in a revolving door of no names?

How does this compare to pet sitting?

When you hire a professional pet sitter your pets will receive one on one attention from their petsitter.

Quality vs Quantity.  Hiring a professional petsitter may cost more than taking your dog to boarding, but that’s because boarding facilities can take in hundreds of dogs at one time, therefore allowing them to charge less for your pet’s care.  (Sound familiar to healthcare?)

The cost of pet sitting

When looking for a service provider and comparing the cost of each you must keep in mind how the business operates.  Are they a sole proprietor with no employees?  You may pay less for the sole proprietor, but that one person has to do at least 15 visits per day to make any money.  Do you think that ONE person can provide quality care to your pets when they are worried about making it to the next one?  Do you think that maybe they are cutting your pet’s visits short so they can squeeze in one more visit?  Maybe, maybe not…but certainly something to consider.  (See how this can compare to healthcare?  Push`em in, get`em out.)

If you are concerned about the quality of care your pet is receiving while you are away, it will be beneficial to go with the company that charges a little more, has staff on hand that is able to spend quality time with your pet and isn’t just running from one place to another, checking their chart just before they walk in the door.

What Happens When I Hire a Pet Sitter for Potty Breaks?

Clients often ask us what we do when we are hired for mid-day potty breaks.  Our client’s concern is that their dog needs to go to the bathroom when they work long hours and are not able to make it home in the middle of their shift.  Some questions we often get are:  Are you there just to let them out to go potty?  Do you play with them?  Is it really worth it to pay someone to come let my dog out?

Let’s talk about puppies first.  Puppies should never be left in a crate for extended periods of time.  Your puppy is likely not able to hold their bladder for more than a couple hours.  If you are crate training them, they will end up in a wet, dirty crate for HOURS without a break.  This can also cause behavioral issues down the road.  If you aren’t crate training your puppy you will come home to lots of potty spots to clean.  Wouldn’t you rather come home after a long day at work and not be frustrated because you have to clean up a bunch of potty spots?  Your puppy needs and deserves a break or two while you are at work.  We understand that puppies tend to want to play rather than go potty.  We make sure they go potty several times before we put them back in their crate.  We also provide exercise and play time so they aren’t full of energy before leaving them alone for a couple more hours.  Wouldn’t it be much better to have a sleeping puppy in a crate than one that is barking and trying to escape?

Now for adult and senior dogs.  Adult and senior dogs can hold it for so long.  Maybe 8 hours without feeling stressed about having to go to the bathroom.  Our potty breaks are much more than just letting them out to go potty then leaving.  We play with them, cuddle them, rub their bellies…whatever we need to do to make them feel comfortable and happy.

Bottom line is…if you are calling (or considering) a pet sitter for potty breaks, it’s probably a good thing for you and your dog.  The peace of mind is worth it!

Check out our video on what happens when we provide mid day potty breaks…

Pet Sitter Offers Exercising Tips for Pet Parents in Mesa, AZ

Exercising with Fido can be tricky during the Arizona summer months. It’s too hot in the middle of the day for your pet sitter to exercise him during his potty break and the sun doesn’t go down until late in the evening leaving you to exercise Fido pretty close to bed time. So, unless you are able, and let’s be honest, willing, to get up bright and early to take Fido out for his daily exercise the summer months can be rough for both you and your dog.

Well, how hot is too hot to take Fido for a walk? There is a simple test you can do to tell if it’s too hot for Fido to go for a walk. Walk outside on the sidewalk barefoot…if you can’t stand there for more than 3 seconds without burning your feet, it’s too hot for Fido. Your pets pads can and will burn from hot cement and pavement. There is also the added element of heat exhaustion. Your dog cools himself by panting. If he can’t stop panting, that is a sign of heat exhaustion. You will need to take the necessary steps to cool your pet down, because heat exhaustion is fatal.

As a pet sitter and dog walker, it is my responsibility to know how to exercise and stimulate your pet when it’s too hot to be outside for long periods of time. Below are just a few tricks I have up my sleeve:

  • Quick potty break outside and a toss or two of the ball, then inside for some tug of war

  • Inside ball play

  • If you have a water dog…some fun with the hose, chasing the water

  • A quick dip in the pool retrieving his favorite water toy

  • Teaching a new trick – Did you know that mental stimulation can be just as good as physical exercise?

The last thing you want during the summer months is for your dog to release his excess energy on your new pillows, your comfy couch or heaven forbid, your favorite pair of shoes!

If you’d like more ideas on how to stimulate your pooch during the hot summer months you can contact us by emailing to jenna@playtimepetcareaz.com or calling us at 480-292-9735.

How Can You Tell if Your Pet Sitter Did Their Job?

Your pets ARE your kids and a part of your family.  When you hire a pet sitter, how can you tell if they actually did their job?  The last thing you want to do on vacation is wonder and worry about your pets.  Here is an example of one of our pet sitter’s client updates: 

Wouldn’t an update like this every day give you added peace of mind?  Ask your pet sitter to send you text or email updates with photos of your pets so you KNOW they’ve been to your house and your pets are happy and healthy.  If your pet sitter tries to charge extra for this service, find someone else.  If your pet sitter doesn’t offer updates, it’s time to move on.

Your pet sitter’s updates are fun and cute.  It gives the pet sitter the opportunity to share the funny quirks they experience with your pets so you know they can’t be making things up.  They also get to share how much fun they are having with your pets and that they have entered their hearts too.

Strange Requests for Pet Sitting in Mesa AZ

Sometimes our pet sitting clients call with “strange” requests.  After the request is made it is followed up by “I’m so sorry to have to ask you to do that.”  Or “Sorry for making such a strange request”. 

To that I say, “Don’t worry about it!  No request is too strange for us :)”

An example of some recent requests we’ve had are:

Our house is on the market…could you please make sure the litter box is cleaned after every visit?  And spray Febreeze in the litter box area and surrounding area?

Our kitty is misbehaving and peeing, vomiting and pooping in strange places.  Can you please check all rooms, even the ones with the doors closed?

Can you please leave the dog in his crate during the day, but allow him free reign at night?

If there are accidents in the house, can you clean it up the best you can and “leave a square” on the spot so I know where to steam clean?

I’m expecting an important package, can you please text me when it arrives?

I’m going out of town, but don’t want my puppy to miss a training session.  Can you please take him to obedience class?

Our trip is so last minute, I don’t have enough time pick up more dog food.  Can you pick up a bag for us and we’ll reimburse you?

Our dog piddles in excitement when we first come home.  Please don’t acknowledge him when you first arrive.  Just walk out in the backyard with him so if he does piddle it’s not in the house.

Do you think any of these requests are strange?  I don’t!  EVERY family is different.  We embrace the differences in each household and are happy to accommodate in any way we can.  Don’t be afraid to make those “strange” requests with your pet sitter.  They should be more than willing to handle your requests as long as it doesn’t cause harm to anyone or any pet.

What are some “strange” requests you’ve made of your pet sitter?

Hots Months of Summer

Providing pet care to many households in the Mesa, AZ and surrounding areas has proven to be a challenging job in the hot months of the summer.  Not only is it hot for us humans, running from house to house with barley enough time for our cars to cool down, but the activities we love to do with our clients changes drastically because it’s too hot to have fun outside with Fluffy & Fido.  This is why we came up with some fun summertime treats to keep our 4 legged (and sometimes 3 legged) clients cool and happy.

The first treat idea combines two things most of our pets love:  ice & people food.  Now, we are huge advocates of healthy pets, so we aren’t using people food that is bad for our clients.  This treat is entirely made up of 1 can of unsalted, cut green beans.  There are two treats we get out of the 1 can:

  1. Ice cold ice cubes

  2. Frozen green bean snacks

Who’s dog doesn’t LOVE ice cubes?  My golden retriever will munch on ice cubes until his internal temperature drops to an uncomfortable level.  Needless to say, I have to be careful with the amount of ice cubes my guy gets =)

I have also found, from personal experience, that my dogs are a little finicky about what they eat.  They don’t want fresh green beans and they don’t like eating green beans straight from the can (I don’t think they enjoy the squishy texture), BUT, if I freeze the green beans, they LOVE them.  So, not only do they get a filling, crunchy snack in the afternoon, it also keeps them from grazing between meals, and doesn’t add extra unwanted calories.

So here’s how you do it:

  • Open a can of unsalted cut green beans.

  • Squeeze the liquid from the can into an ice cube tray.

  • Put a small piece of green bean in each cube.

  • Freeze!

  • Put the green beans in a container and freeze.  When you are ready to offer your dogs their treat, just remove from the freezer, break off some green beans and have fun!  Your dogs will LOVE you for it!

    Mesa Pet Sitter

Another great idea:

    • Fill a bucket with water and some of your pets favorite toys. (You could also add treats…carrots, green beans, etc.)

    • Freeze the bucket. (You can use a myriad of things to freeze the water…milk jugs, milk cartons, plastic bottles)

    • When completely frozen, remove the huge block of ice from the bucket and place outside.

Your dogs will have an exciting time licking the ice to get to their toys.

pet sitter

What fun ideas do you have to keep your pets cool and entertained in the hot summer months?

Independence Day Pet Safety

4th of July is upon us and with it comes loud noises our dogs aren’t used to hearing. Here are some ways to keep your dog sane and safe during 4th of July:

Staying home for Independence Day?  Here are some stay at home tips:

  • Don’t leave alcoholic beverages out where your dogs can get to it. Alcoholic beverages have the ability to poison your pets.  It can cause your pet to become weak, severely depressed or could go into acoma.

  • Don’t apply insect repellent to your pet that isn’t labeled as pet safe.  The misuse of insect repellent containing DEET can lead to neurological problems.

  • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets reach. Chlorates found in matches can damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing.  Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin and if ingested can cause gastrointestinal irritation.

Going out to see a fireworks display? Here are some tips for leaving your dog at home:

  • Be sure to leave your dog inside.  Keeping your dog inside, away from the noise, will help them stay calmer.  They should be kept in a quiet, escape-proof area of your home.  If you have a doggy door, keep it closed so they don’t have access to the backyard where they could dig out, jump the fence or obnoxiously bark at the loud noises.

  • Although it is tempting to bring your dog with you…Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for your dog.

  • ID or Microchip.  When dogs get scared they react with fight or flight.  Loud noises could send your dog running for the hills.  Make sure you properly ID or microchip your dog to be sure you get him back if he runs away.

Don’t forget about the kitties.  Same rules apply.  Keep them inside where they are safe.