Tag: Holiday safety

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Dog Walker this Holiday Season

Your pets may express signs of depression as they watch you quickly come and go. Your pets don’t understand it’s the holiday season. They don’t know why you have stopped taking them for their daily walks or tossing the ball for them to fetch. Your pets are used to you taking time out of your day for them.You get busier as the holidays get closer. If you are anything like me, you generally wait until the last minute to get your shopping done. This adds stress to your day and with the longer hours spent outside the home you have less time to play with and exercise your dog.

Continuing exercise will help your dog relax. A relaxed, exercised dog is a good dog. There is less of a chance your dog will crash into the newly decorated Christmas tree, or counter surf for that freshly prepared turkey.

One less thing for you to worry about. Enlisting help with exercising your pet will help you worry less and feel less guilty about not having the time needed to dedicate to your pet’s exercise and mental well-being.

YOUR DOG WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT! Really, he/she will. If your pet gets to continue getting their exercise, whether it’s from you or someone else, they will love you for it. You get the benefits of having a well balanced, exercised, pooped pooch without having to make the extra time for it.

Here are some easy ways to entertain your dog without breaking the time bank:

  • Stuffed toys – There are plenty of toys on the market that are great for stuffing with all kinds of good treats.  You can purchase the treats meant to go with the toy or get creative.  Other foods that are good for your dog include:  peanut butter, yogurt and pumpkin just to name a few.  Use these foods as binders for kibble or dry treats…freeze the toy for added difficulty.
  • Hide the treats to offer your dog a puzzle to figure out.  This should keep them busy for  a while.  Mental activity is just as good as physical.  Wrapping the treat filled toy in an old t-shirt or towel, tying the ends will keep your dog entertained while trying to figure out their treat puzzle.  You can also use an old oatmeal box, margarine container or shoe box.
  • There are also plenty of puzzle toys on the market to choose from if you don’t have the time to put one together on your own.
  • Throw your dogs food chicken feed style in the backyard and let them sniff it out.  This is a very fun and draining exercise for your dog.   A very large portion of the dogs brain controls their olfactory function, the more they get to use their nose the more stimulated and tired they get.
  • Purchase raw marrow bones or knuckles from your butcher.  Give them to your dog frozen to make them last longer…refreeze between use.
  • Keep a stash of new toys.  Your dog will love to get a new toy every day…sniffing it out and figuring out how to use it.  Allow your dog to have a new toy every time you leave the house for a long period.  Be sure to pick it up when you get home.  If you want to keep your dog interested in the toy don’t let them have it all the time.  It should be something special for them to have every once in a while.
Give us a call for more tips on how to keep your dog entertained this holiday season.

How To Relax on Thanksgiving – A Pet Sitter’s Guide

As a pet sitter in Mesa, AZ, I often receive last minute pet sitting requests around the holidays.  Clients sound flustered and stressed on the phone.  Excited to visit with family, that they may not have seen in years, nervous about leaving home and their pets behind, stressed that they waited till the last minute to book their pet sitting services.

In order to help relieve some of that stress, we have compiled a guide to a stress free Thanksgiving holiday.  These tips can be used whether you are staying home and entertaining or leaving to visit with friends and family in another state.

Typically a post like this will offer information about keeping your DOG safe (which we will cover later).  Let’s not forget our kitties!  Here are some tips on how to keep your cats safe and happy.

Cats

Whenever we are decorating our homes for the festive holidays, we need to keep our cats in mind.  They are able to jump to higher places and are extremely interested in things that move.

If you decorate with potted plants on tables and shelves, don’t forget that our feline friends can easily access those areas.  There are plants that are toxic to cats, like, poinsettia sap, mistletoe, lilies, daffodils and narcissi. 

Ribbons, tinsel and other string-like decorations are fun for cats and can be played with “UNDER SUPERVISION”.  However, if swallowed, these “toys” can cause intestinal blockage or cut through the intestinal wall.  Words of wisdom from our friends at Augusta Ranch Animal Hospital, “Don’t even encourage this kind of play.”

Like to include your feline friend in the mealtime feasts?  Only small amounts of lean meats…check out the suggestions by our friends at Augusta Ranch Animal Hospital.

Dogs

Mealtime may be the most common way for humans to indulge their pets during the Thanksgiving holiday season.  If you like to offer table scraps to your dog might I suggest doing so in their food dish on top of or mixed in with their regular food, NOT from the table.  Sharing table scraps from the table tells your dog it’s okay to beg, which turns into a whole other problem.  Also, a sudden change in diet that includes rich foods may cause diarrhea and vomiting.

ATTENTION COUNTER SURFERS:  If you leave an uncooked loaf of bread on the counter allowing it to rise, and your dog is a counter surfer (or has tendencies) BEWARE.  In the warmth of your dog’s stomach the bread can continue to rise causing a complete obstruction that your dog will be unable to pass.

If you are going to be gone for the holidays, my advise would be to leave the decorations in their boxes.  Your pets don’t know it’s Thanksgiving, they don’t need the additional distractions in their home while you are away.

If you are going to be home, be sure you kitty and puppy proof your home by:

Making sure the string used to tie your turkey legs is thrown away and the trash taken out.

If you want to share in mealtime, offer small amounts on top of or mixed in with your pet’s normal food.

If you save the Wishbone, be sure to put it in a place your pet can’t get to it.

No cooked bones!  They will splinter and could puncture your pet’s intestines.

 How do you include your pets during the festive Thanksgiving holiday?

Turkey Day! ~ Pet Sitters Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  Everyone is bustling about getting ready to make their favorite fixin’s for the big dinner, doing last minute preparations on the house and lawn and frantically spending their final days trying to train their dog to be a good dog when guests arrive. I’m sure you’ve been getting all kinds of Tips and Tricks on how NOT to include your favorite dog into the festivities.  

Although I do totally agree with all the tips on what NOT to give your dog, like:

  • Cooked animal bones, animal skin, anything with spices or sugar added, no pie, no stuffing, etc.

Here are some suggestions on what you CAN do to include your dog in the festivities.

  • When making your famous sweet potato pie, save some raw sweet potato.  This is a great healthy snack even for dogs that suffer from allergies.

        

  • Raw carrots from a dressing free salad 

  • Turkey meat…but remember, no skin or bones.

You can put these goodies aside and when your dog settles under the table with his head in your lap, your  heart is melting and you just HAVE to give him a little something special, reach into your pre-made treat bag and give him some love without the guilt.  I would suggest offering these festive treats in his own food dish and away from the dinning room table.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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.  

How will my pet sitter keep my pet safe?

The 4th of July is a popular holiday for pet sitting in Mesa, AZ.  Many of our clients want to get out of the heat to enjoy festivities, which means leaving the state or traveling to a town in the northern part of Arizona.  As pet sitters, it is our job to ensure the safety of our client’s pets during this time.  Our actions change a little, as do the temperaments of our 4-legged clients.

The mind of a dog during 4th of July festivities:

  • OMG, OMG, OMG…what was that noise?  I’ve never heard that before.

  • The sky is falling, the sky is falling…hurry, run away and take cover.

  • If I bark at it, it will go away, right? BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK….

  • I’m not sure what’s happening right now, but I’m sure if I start drooling everything will be ok.

  • Mommy, hold me!  This is FREAKIN me out!

If your pets are anything like mine, they get really nervous when they hear loud noises.  Mostly because this isn’t a part of their normal, everyday life.  My dogs will bark, pace, drool, jump in my lap and just generally become very nervous.  Here are some precautions we take with our client’s pets on the 4th of July to ensure their safety:

  1. If they have a doggy door, we will close the doggy door before it gets dark.  This way they don’t have access to the backyard where they could dig out, jump the fence or bark obnoxiously at the loud noises.  Kitty cats are also brought inside (if they are allowed outside) and kept inside for the night.

  2. We will turn the tv or radio on at a higher than normal volume to try and drown out the noise of neighborhood fireworks.

  3. We exercise them more than usual to try and wear them out before we leave them.

  4. If we are spending the night with them, we make sure we are at the home before the sun goes down.  Again we make sure the doggy door is closed and turn up some music or the tv to distract them.

  5. We certainly make sure we visit them early the next morning to make sure they are safe and sound.

It’s your turn.  What do you do to calm your dog and keep your pets safe during the 4th of July?

Easter Toxins for Pets

Preparing for Easter with the kids?  Here is how you can keep your pets safe while having fun.

There are several popular Easter toxins lurking around your home:

Chocolate – Caffeinated products such chocolate contain methylxanthines that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, anxiety, seizures and possibly death.

Easter Lilies – All parts of the Easter lily are poisonous; leaves, petals, stems and even pollen. The smallest amount of pollen on a cat’s fur ingested when the pet grooms or as few as 1-2 leaves are toxic to cats, and can result in severe renal (kidney) failure.

Artificial grass/ Easter basket grass –  If ingested the grass may form into a ball in the stomach or intestines, or may anchor in the stomach and create a linear foreign obstruction as it attempts to pass through the small intestines.

For signs, symptoms and treatment please refer to a recent blog post from our good friends at Augusta Ranch Animal Hospital.

Have a happy and safe Easter!

Pet Sitters Who Love Your Pets Like Family!

What do we mean when we say, “Pet sitters who love your pets like family?”

Play Time Pet Care uses this quote in all of our marketing.  Why? What does this mean?

When we say we love your pets like family, we mean, we treat them as if they were our own.  We treat them like they are our children.  When one of our clients isn’t feeling good, or is nervous because mom and dad are gone we take the time to comfort them.  We play games to take their mind off the fact that mom and dad are away.  We do everything in our power to make your pet feel better.  For example:

Scary, Loud Noises

During July 4th celebrations we experience residential fireworks.  Many parents know their pets are very nervous when it comes to loud noises like fireworks or thunder, so they hire our sitters to spend the night with their pets.  Once our overnight service is booked, we can only offer dinner and tuck in visits in the evening.  We reserve one or two sitters to provide dinner and tuck in services during this time so we aren’t taking away from the client’s who purchased our overnight service.  There is only so much we can do during the dinner and tuck in visit since we typically have several clients to visit.  In 2014, we KNEW we had 1 doggy client that was not going to fare well during the active celebrations.  So, the sitter arrived as close to sun down as possible and stayed as late as possible.  Here is an example of how the sitter kept the pet calm during this time:

Working with Illness

Sometimes we are contracted to sit for ill pets.  We have had several occasions where the parents are providing hospice type services at home.  They are called out of state for work and are unable to stay home.  Our sitters come in and care for these pets as if they were their own.  They lay with them, cuddle with them, pet them, tell them they are the best pets ever and sometimes shed tears, knowing the soon to come fate of the pet.

High Maintenance

Hahaha…everyone thinks their pet is high maintenance 🙂  What I mean is…a pet that requires a lot of attention.  Whether they require it because they medically need it or just crave the attention of people.  This is the very reason our visits are not timed. We will spend up to an hour per visit with pets that NEED it unless hourly pet sitting has been purchased which would be a minimum of 2 hours with your pets.  We don’t want to ever leave a pet “wanting more”.  We do our best to exhaust our welcome :).  If your pet is used to having someone home all day and night, we do recommend our overnight or live in service so we can provide as much attention as they are used to.

Top 4 Reasons a Pet Sitting Company Will Tell You NO

 When Is It Too Late To Book Holiday Pet Sitting?

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It’s November 11th and we are down to the wire for holiday bookings.  Established clients are reminded well in advance to book their pet sitting services ahead of time so they are guaranteed a spot on the calendar.  Waiting until a week, or even, two weeks before a major holiday could mean a pet sitter telling you no.  If you don’t already have a relationship with a pet sitting company, you need to start looking today!  The number 1 phone call we get a week prior to a major holiday is….

My “pet sitter” bailed and I need someone to care for my pets!

We will get this same phone call up to the day BEFORE a major holiday.  It happens every year.  Most often, the “pet sitter” was a friend, family member or neighbor that decided spending time with their own family was more important than watching their friend’s or neighbor’s pet.

If you are able to find a pet sitter with availability you want to be prepared to pay a “late booking” fee.  Let me explain what goes into taking on a NEW client close to major holidays when the schedules are already tight.

1.  The company needs to find a sitter that has availability and is WILLING to sacrifice time away from family they have already planned.

2.  The sitter needs to find time to schedule a meet and greet with the new client in between already scheduled visits.

3.  The company may need to rearrange sitters booked with other clients to accommodate the new client.

4.  All the while rushing to make sure we have all the required information from the new client within a 24 hour period.

Sometimes when we have to turn new clients away, they are frustrated.  I can totally see why that would be frustrating, but it’s not the companies fault that you waited too long to find a professional to care for your pets.  And it’s not the companies problem that your friend bailed.  A common response is, “All I’m asking for is a 30 minute visit.  I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to squeeze us in.”  It’s NOT just a 30 minute visit.  It’s travel time from one visit to the next.  It’s fitting, or not being able to, fit the drive time AND the visit in so we can spend QUALITY time with all our clients within a reasonable time frame.

So to answer the question….Be prepared to meet with a new sitter a MONTH before a major holiday.  Get that relationship established so you aren’t told NO or left having to cancel your plans.