Tag: Pet Toxins

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?

How To Keep Your Pets Safe on Halloween – A Pet Sitter’s Guide

As a pet sitter in Mesa AZ, we hear about a lot of pets getting lost on and around Halloween.  With little goblins knocking on our doors and ringing the door bells our pet’s are on high alert to begin with.  Then add in opening the door and being distracted by the SCARY costumes, this could add up to a pet breaking out and getting lost.  Follow these simple suggestions on how to keep your pets safe on Halloween to ensure fun for the entire family.

#1 To Dress Up Your Pet or Not To Dress Up Your Pet

If your pet is used to being dressed up then it’s okay to have them wear a costume for Halloween.  Just be sure it is loose enough for them to move around comfortably.  If they show signs they aren’t having a great time, take the costume off.

If your pet isn’t used to being dressed up and is resistant to wearing a costume, it is best left alone.

#2 Handling The Crazy Costumed Guests At The Door

It is common for pets to view people as scary monsters.  So…having ACTUAL scary monsters come to the door can be MUCH more frightening.  During the time that you are expecting gools and goblins to demand candy at your door, you may consider confining your pets to a safe area of the home where they don’t have access to the front door.  My husband and I sit outside on our porch and hand out candy so our pets don’t get freaked out by the door bell each time it rings.

It’s not a bad idea to have your pets outside with you joining in on the fun. Just be sure to have them leashed, wearing their ID’s and/or micro chipped.

#3 Toxins That Can Make Your Pet Sick

Keep your pets away from all your sweet loot.  Check out this list of toxic food for your pets.  Other costume related items that you need to keep your pet away from are:

Glow Sticks


Fake Hair

Any accessories that your pet may eat

What other suggestions do YOU have for keeping our pets safe on Halloween?

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!

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.

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!

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

Providing pet sitting and dog walking services in Mesa, AZ we are frequently asked about “people” food our pet parents can feed their pets. There are a lot of good “people” foods you can feed your pet, as a matter of fact, many people have their pets on raw or cooked “people” food diets. I have one client that feeds her dog raw chicken, exclusively. He is very healthy, not overweight, and if your dog is used to eating raw meat, it doesn’t bother them at all.

When I work with pet parents who’s pooch needs to lose weight I suggest that they supplement their dogs diet with carrots and green beans. They still get dog food, just a little less than they are used to. Mom adds a 1/4 cup of carrots or green beans and the pet feels full but doesn’t get the extra calories dog food provides. This also helps with pooches that tend to eat poop. Add some carrots or green beans to their food and again, they feel full, so they don’t feel the need to supplement their diet with poop.

I do suggest that whatever “people” food pet parents feed their pets is not given from their plate or from the dinner table.  This will make a beggar out of your pet and you cook with spices that are not good for  your pet.

Here are some foods to AVOID feeding your pet:

Baby Food
Chocolate (the dark kind)
Bones (cooked – raw bones don’t tend to splinter like cooked bones do)
Cat food
Grapes & Raisins
Macadamia Nuts
Milk & other dairy products
Raw Fish

Baby food
Grapes & Raisins
Dog Food

Do you provide a raw or cooked diet to your pet?  We can do that too!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  Here are some DIY healthy treats for your dog to spoil them on the day of love.


Flavored Chicken Chewies – Courtesy of http://kolchakpuggle.com/

Use what you’ve already got at home for your healthy treats.  Super easy and FREE!

The website I got this recipe from (link above) offered some optional marinades.  I am keeping this recipe as simple as possible just to keep unwanted or unneeded ingredients in the chews.  If you’d like to add additional flavor to your chews check out his website for ideas.

  • 3 lbs. chicken breast chunks (or thinly sliced chicken breast)

How We Do It (Instructions)

(Skip the first 2 steps if not using a marinade)

  • Whisk together marinade ingredients of your choice.

  • Place chicken in a shallow dish or plastic bag and cover with marinade. Place in fridge and marinate 12 – 24 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 425F.

  • Line baking trays with parchment paper. Lay out chicken pieces on the trays. Bake chicken 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Oven Method:

  • Reduce heat to 200F and slow cook for 3 -12 hours, flipping occasionally until jerky is dry.

Dehydrator Method:

Place chicken chunks onto dehydrator trays. Set to the HIGH or MEAT setting. Dehydrate for 2 – 12 hours, no flipping necessary, until jerky is dry

Cut a piece in half to test for doneness. Jerky is dry when there is no moisture in the centre of the treat and it is the same colour throughout.

Organ Meat Dog Treats – Also from http://kolchakpuggle.com/

Organ meat is liver and lung.  The linked website mentions heart, which you can use, but it isn’t considered an organ when feeding raw.  Heart is considered meat.  Organs are rich!  Feed a few of these treats at a time.  If your dog eats too much it may give it the runs.

Slice your organ meat into thin slices (This will be a bazillion times easier if it’s partially frozen.) The thinner you can slice it, the better you’re final treat will be. Line a baking sheet or dehydrator tray with parchment (for easy clean up, plus, these can stick if you’re not careful!) Place baking sheet in an oven heated to the lowest setting or plug in dehydrator on the “meat” setting (if you have one). Dry for 12 – 14 hours, until they snap crisp and there is no moisture left in the middle.

Dehydrating organ meat may be a bit stinky.  If you have a dehydrator try plugging it in outside to keep from stinking up the house.

Fish Chew – Also from  http://kolchakpuggle.com/

1 lb. of fresh or frozen/defrosted white fish pieces – You can use Tilapia, Sole, Haddock, Cod, Pollock etc. I use what ever is on sale.

How We Do It (Instructions)

If desired, trim the whitefish into bite sized pieces. ( Note: The fish will shrink by about 50% as it dehydrates, so cut your whitefish pieces larger than the size of chew you want to end up with.)

If you are marinating your chews (you can get some marinating ideas from the website), whisk the ingredients together. Place your fish pieces in a bowl or zip top bag, pour the marinade over them and toss the fish to coat well.

Place in the fridge and marinate for as long as you like. (I prefer to make the marinade the night before and let it sit all night.)

Lay out fish pieces on your dehydrator trays and turn on. Allow your fish chews to dehydrate for 6 – 10 hours. (Actual drying time will depend on the moisture in the fish and the humidity in your area.)

Fish chews are done when they are firm, no longer flexible and break cleanly in half.

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Lay out your fish pieces on a foil lined baking sheet or a drying rack. Cook fish for several hours – Mine took 4 hours. (Again, actual drying time will depend on the moisture in the fish and the humidity in your area.)

Store in a sealed, airtight container. Do not refrigerate.

Grain Free Dog Treats – Courtesy of Primally Inspired


  • ½ cup chicken or beef broth (or homemade bone broth) – I like the bone broth idea.  It adds additional nutrients and doesn’t add extra sodium.

  • ½ cup fat or oil of choice (bacon fat, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) – BACON FAT! Don’t know what to do with your leftover bacon fat?  Now you do!

  • 1⅓ cup tapioca flour

  • ⅓ cup coconut flour

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (or just leave it out)

  • 2 tablespoons brewers or nutritional yeast

  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (sometimes called ground flax or milled flax)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. In a small pot over medium heat, bring the chicken broth and fat/oil to a boil.

  3. While that is coming to a boil, mix tapioca flour, coconut flour, sea salt, brewers yeast and flax meal in a medium bowl.

  4. Once the broth/fat mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and add to the flour bowl. Mix well.

  5. On a piece of parchment paper, press out the dough into a ¼” thick rectangle. Either cut into squares with a pizza cutter or use cookie cutters in desired shape.

  6. Bake for 15 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. When the timer goes off, shut off the oven, crack the door and leave in the oven until cool (about 10-15 more minutes).