Tag: pet safety

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.


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.


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?

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!

All I did was run from a dog

Special effects courtesy of Rot n Wonderland

In honor of Dog Bite Prevention Week, (starting May 15th)  we are sharing reasons why people get bit by dogs and how to prevent it from happening to you.

When you see a stray dog, or if a dog is charging after you, the worst thing you can do is run.  First, you will NEVER out run a dog.  They are faster than you.  If you run, there is a big chance of you getting bit, tackled and attacked.  What you should do if you are charged or if a dog is running toward you is:


Stand still, don’t look the dog in the eye, put your hands behind your back and wait.  It will be scary, but you must wait it out.  The dog will run up to you, sniff you, maybe jump on you, but if you remain calm and still, it will eventually get bored and leave you alone.

If you get knocked down, get into the fetal position.

  1. Knees to chest

  2. Face toward the ground

  3. Interlock your fingers behind your head being sure to cover your ears and neck.

Again, eventually, the dog will get bored and leave.

Image source:  Rot N Wonderland
Special Effects by: Rot N Wonderland

I tried to hug a dog

Special effects courtesy of Rot n Wonderland

All I tried to do is hug a dog

In honor of Dog Bite Prevention Week (starting May 15th) we are dedicating this article to one reason why people get bit by dogs and how to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.

One reason children get bit by dogs is due to hugs.  It makes sense that a child would want to show a dog affection by offering hugs, they were taught that hugs are a sign of affection, after all, we hug each other all the time.  It is important to teach our kids that dogs don’t enjoy hugs like we do.

Dogs see the world in a much different way than we do.  To a dog, a hug is an invasion of space and is very uncomfortable for them.  It is a type of restraint and dogs don’t like to be restrained.

It is also important to know how to read dog body language.  Some signs to look for are:

  1. Body stiffening

  2. Eyes wide

  3. Tongue flicking

  4. Ears pinned back

Instead of hugging, teach your child other ways of showing love to a dog, like:

  1. Petting on the chest

  2. Petting on their sides

  3. They love a nice butt rub too 🙂

Children need to be taught how to properly approach a dog.

  1. Slowly walk up to the owner

  2. Don’t look in the dog’s eyes

  3. Ask the owner if it is okay to pet your dog

  4. If the owner says yes…allow the dog to sniff your closed hand

  5. Once the dog has gotten a good sniff, the child can pet the sides of the dog…nicely

Just remember, no hugs, no bites.

How to prevent dog bites

As a Mesa pet sitter I am  provided with plenty of opportunities to educate pet parents and the general public about how to prevent dog bites when working with shy and fearful dogs. Jenna Trethewey, owner of Play Time Pet Care, says “It’s important to recognize the signs of fear and anxiety in dogs.”

Here are some obvious signs that  a dog is shy or fearful.  Some people may not recognize a dog is fearful or anxious if the dog is exhibiting signs of the slight cower.

Some other signs that aren’t so obvious to the average person that isn’t familiar with dog body language are:

Pet sitting in Mesa has given me plenty of opportunity to observe all of these behaviors. I know that just because a dog is wagging their tail it doesn’t mean it’s happy.  When we are meeting with new dogs we see these behaviors all the time.

Some behaviors that might not make sense:

Get to know dog body language.  It’s a pet parent’s responsibility to know their dog’s behaviors and keep others safe from it.  If you know your dog is food aggressive, keep kids away from their food dish.  If you know your dog is shy and fearful around new people, consult with a professional dog trainer to learn ways to help your dog feel less anxious and how to teach others how to approach, or not approach, your dog.

For more information on dog body language and bite prevention contact us at 480-292-9735 or via email at jenna@PlayTimePetCareAZ.com.

Green Cleaning For Your Pets

Have you ever thought about the cleaning products you use in your home and what affect they have on your pets?  I stopped using harsh chemicals on my floors because my dogs couldn’t stay off of them long enough for the tile to dry and they lay on the tile to cool off and now, my little man, Nugget, eats his breakfast and dinner off the floor (that’s a story for another time).

My first purchase was a steam cleaner for my tile.  The steam cleans and sanitized my tile at the same time while providing a safe environment for my dogs.  The next step was looking into Green cleaning supplies like Melaleuca, but that required purchasing a minimum amount of products every month or becoming a representative, neither of which I was interested in.  So…the next best thing?  Hiring a cleaning company that uses the products.  This is a quadruple win for me!  I hate cleaning my house, work so much that when I do have down time the last thing I want to do is clean.  I don’t have to worry about the products they are using in my home and whether they are safe for my dogs or not. I can continue working and viola…my house is clean.  Ok, that was only 3 wins…but you get my point 🙂

Who is this cleaning company that uses Green cleaning supplies, is great with my dogs and people I can trust inside my home?  Going Greenhouse, that’s who!  April and her crew showed up for my first deep clean on time, met my dogs and allowed them to follow around and “help”.  They had no issue with me leaving them inside while they did their work and actually played with them for a bit.  I did make it very clear that my dogs were a part of my family and they were not going to be sequestered outside while they did their job.  Besides, it’s way to hot out for that.

If you are looking for a great cleaning company, that uses Green products (safe for you kids and pets) I highly recommend Going Greenhouse.

Mesa Pet Sitter Buckles Up for Safety

Wanna go for a ride?  That usually gets my dogs all riled up and ready to go.  Their tails wagging and whining out of excitement.  The wind in their hair, the smells of the unknown, sticking their head out the window, squirming from front seat to back…my lap, the floor…OH WAIT!  That could be dangerous.  How do I get them to sit still in the car? Your Mesa pet sitter buckles up for safety.


Have you ever been driving down the road and saw a dog in the bed of a pick up truck? The first thing that screams at me is, “Your dog is gonna jump out and run away as soon as you stop.”  How about the cute dog that has his head sticking out the window taking in all the unfamiliar scents?  It is cute, but bugs or road debris could get lodged in the dogs nose or eyes.  What if you got into an accident?  An unbelted dog now becomes a dangerous object that could fly out the window, crash through the window or fall into a passenger causing additional injury.

It Arizona, it is not illegal to drive with your dog without a seat belt, but it is becoming more an more popular among other states to have seat belt laws for pets.  For instance, Hawaii, Connecticut, Illinois and Maine have banned motorists from driving with pets in their laps, but New Jersey is apparently the first state to require that pets be strapped in.

As a Mesa pet sitter that provides a pet taxi service, we make sure our client’s pets are strapped in for their car rides.  Here are some tips on how to make your pet’s next car ride a safe one:

Purchase a pet safety belt that attaches to your cars seat belt

Have them travel in a crate – make sure the crate is secure in the bed of a truck

Allow them to smell all those wonderful new scents from inside the car.  Crack a window, but don’t let them hang their head out


How to Report Animal Abuse

In our last article, 10 Signs of Animal Abuse, we gave you the signs of animal abuse to watch for.  Now, we need to know what to do if we suspect animal abuse.

It is important to report animal abuse to your local agency because many times the only way they find out about animal cruelty is from a concerned citizen.  Without tips from the community many animals will remain in abusive situations, mute and unable to defend themselves.

You may be wondering if you can remain anonymous while reporting abuse.  The answer is YES.  It is just important that the abuse is reported.

In Arizona, you must report animal abuse to your local law enforcement agency.  If you witness or suspect an act of animal cruelty in your community, contact your local police department’s non-emergency line. On a county island, please call the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office at (602) 876-1011.

You can also contact the Arizona Humane Society online and fill out an abuse form.  You may remain anonymous in your reporting.

How to keep your home safe while you are gone

Your Mesa pet sitter offers tips on how to keep your home safe while you are on vacation.  Pet sitters at Play Time Pet Care take our jobs very seriously.  Not only are we responsible for caring for your pets as you would when you are not home we also look after your home.  We got some tips from our insurance agency so we knew what to do to make your home appear lived in even when you are not there.

Here are some questions that were asked of an ex burglar and his answers to each.

FACT: According to the Insurance Information Institute, the majority of home break-ins occur during the prime vacation months of July and August.*

Q: What’s the first thing you do to get inside?
A: “I head straight for the front door. I always knock, just in case. If you’re home, I’ll ask for directions or make up some other excuse. If you’re not, I’ll try to pick your lock. If you want me to avoid your house, make it look like someone’s home. Turn up the TV or radio. Park a car in the driveway.”


FACT: According to a survey of convicted burglars, 70% prefer to use the front door.**

Q: What about doors and door locks?
A: “I pick whatever takes the least time. So if I see a double lock, especially with a dead bolt, I’ll skip the house and move on to one with a single lock. A flimsy door that’s not hardwood or metal is a piece of cake to get into. I can kick the door down.”

FACT: According to the FBI, a burglary occurs every 14.6 seconds in the U.S.***

Q: If I have a sign that says “Beware of Dog,” will that stop you?
A: “That’s a giveaway that you don’t have an alarm system, so boom! I’m in. Besides, it tells me there might be a doggie door in the back of the house. I’ve gotten in that way a hundred times.”

FACT: A Rutgers University study scientifically proved that 30-40% of burglars tend to avoid homes with burglar alarm systems.****

Q: What if I come home while you’re inside?
A: “There’s an old trick. I put a bottle or broomstick on the handle of the front door. If the bottle breaks or the broom drops, I know you’ve come home.”

Q: So what do you go for first on the inside?
A: “The small, high-ticket stuff—jewelry, credit cards, keys—the grab-and-run items. I look for bank statements because they tell me about your habits, and the better I know you, the better my chances for a heist. I’m also sizing up the bigger stuff you have. When it looks like the coast is clear again, I’ll be back for the TV, computers and antiques.”

FACT: If you’ve had the misfortune of being robbed once, your chance of being robbed again is higher.†

Q: Do burglars ever hit the same house twice?
A: “You bet, especially if you don’t get your locks changed right away. When people come home after a burglary and the house is a complete wreck, the last thing they think about is their keys. People are more worried about the expensive or sentimental stuff that’s missing. I take the keys, and after a few days, I come back because odds are the locks haven’t been changed yet.”

With all that being said:

  1. Leaving the radio or tv on isn’t necessarily for your pets entertainment.  Although they may get a kick out of it, or not care at all, it may be the one thing that will save your home from being robbed.

  2. A good burglar will know how to handle a dog and will probably befriend them while they are taking your personal belongings, so lock up the dog door and have your sitter come more often.  It’s cheaper in the long run.

  3. Whether you have an alarm system or not, it’s a good idea to put an alarm companies stickers or yard signs by your front door.

Don’t make  your home an easy target!

* usatoday.com; iii.org
** youtube.com
*** fbi.gov
**** EzineArticles.com
† ncjrs.gov
†† crimestoppers-uk.org; fnnc.org; easier.com

Doggy Door Dangers in East Valley

Do you have a doggy door in the East Valley?  Be aware of the dangers if you already have one or are thinking of installing one.

Doggy doors sure are convenient aren’t they?  Have you ever thought of all the things that can get IN your doggy door?  Especially if you live near the desert or state land?  Here are some dangers to look out for:

  1. Intruders – What do robbers think of doggy doors?  Burglars have gotten into homes many times through a doggy door.

  2. Snakes

  3. Scorpions

  4. Coyotes – There are coyotes in almost every neighborhood in areas close to open desert areas.  “They smell something that smells like food, they do some wild stuff sometimes,” says Dr. Schmidt from Johnson Ranch Animal Hospital.

Also keep in mind that if you allow your pets outside by themselves they could be in danger of being attacked by a coyote.  Here is a video that shows how easy it is for a coyote to jump a wall.  It’s slow going… but watch from minute 1:30 to 1:50.

Coyote Jumps 6ft Wall

Here are some tips on what coyotes are looking for and how to deter them from your property.

What Coyotes Look For and How To Deter Them

I walk dogs regularly in East Mesa.  I’ve come across coyotes at Guadalupe and Hawes, Signal Butte & Elliot as well as Signal Butte and Meridian while walking dogs.  While walking your dog keep them on a leash, carry a large stick or rock and if you come in contact with one, make loud noises to try and scare it away.

Your turn…

What experiences have you had with coyotes?