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Things to Consider Before You Get A Pet This Christmas

Cute pets wearing Santa Hats

Should You Really Get Pet This Christmas?

It seems perfect, right? The family has been talking about getting a pet why not surprise them? The kids need more responsibility, a pet would be the perfect way to give them that. But it’s not always perfect. Here are some things to consider before you get a pet this Christmas.

#1. Does Everyone Want A Pet?

Before you set out to get a pet you might want to make sure everyone is on board with the idea. Everyone should also agree on what kind of pet your family might want. While you are thinking of a cute little kitten, your family is thinking more along the lines of a Golden Retriever.

#2.  Aren’t you Already Busy?

Christmas is a very busy time of year for everyone. There is shopping to do, presents to wrap, parties to attend, and family to entertain. And what about after the holidays? There is work, school events, afterschool programs, and so much more. Puppies and kittens require a lot of work! Are you going to able to add that to your schedule? Puppies need training, playtime and frequent potty breaks. Kittens need playtime too, as well as training (yes, I said training). Routine is important for any animal, so make sure you can keep your pet on a regular schedule before you get a pet this Christmas.

#3. Holiday Visitors

Christmas is a particularly hectic time with family and friends dropping by to celebrate and exchange gifts. Your doors will continually be opening and closing. This is the perfect opportunity for your new puppy or kitten to get lost in the shuffle of Christmas celebrations.

#4. Cost

Those cute little furry kittens and puppies can cost a lot of money, so make sure you take all costs into consideration before adding a puppy or kitten to your home. Here are a few things to think about:

Veterinary care – From initial vaccinations to monthly heartworm treatment. There is also the accident or illness that may happen. And don’t forget your pet requires a yearly check-up just like you.

Supplies – There’s food, toys, beds, carriers, treats, leashes, bowls, collars and so much more.

Daily care – If you decide to get a puppy what will you do with that puppy every day that you are at work and the kids are in school? Puppies need to get out to go potty and eat in the middle of the day. If you can’t come home during the day, you will have to hire a dog walker to come in to care for your puppy while you are at work. Kittens also need a lot of personal interaction and feedings, so unless you already have other pets in the house and open feeding your kitten will need attention during the day also. A pet sitter is a great way to socialize your kitten as well as provide much-needed playtime and food.

This list only scratches the surface of the costs that can arise.

#5. Are You in It For the Long Haul?

So you get a pet this Christmas, but it will be with you for many Christmases to come. A dog or cat is a long-term commitment. Our shelters are overflowing as it is and after the holidays it gets worse. Pets are not something to play with on Christmas break and the discard at the animal shelter when it gets too difficult or costly.

Cats and dogs can live for 20+ years. Are you willing to make that commitment? What are your future plans? Are you moving? Traveling? Planning a family? How will your pet fit into your life not only now, but in the future?

#6. Do You Have Other Pets?

Before you get a pet this Christmas, take the pets you already have into consideration? Christmas time is very stressful for everyone, including your pets. It might be a good idea to wait until after the holidays, when everything has calmed down, before adding another pet to your family. How will your current pets accept a new pet into the family? Remember, most of your pet care costs are going to double when you add another pet to the family.  

Final Thoughts

If you have decided to get a pet this Christmas, please consider adopting from your local rescue or animal shelter after the Christmas holiday. This will give your pet time to adjust to its new environment and you will be saving a life. Millions of unwanted pets are euthanized each year across the United States. These unwanted pets are wonderful animals (I know I have six) who just need a family to love them. Most rescues and shelters offer gift certificates and you can make it a fun family outing after the holidays, while still giving the kids something to open on Christmas day.

How can Dances with Dogs help? Our Professional Pet Services can take some of the pressure off your busy schedule as well as help you with training your new dog or cat. Contact us!

 

 

 

 

The Key Lock box: Convenience or Asking for Trouble

close up of combination lock with numbers 987

A key lock box may leave your home vulnerable

It seems the new fad for pet sitting and dog walking companies is to offer their clients a key lock box so that the company doesn’t have to bother with client keys any longer, but what is the risk to your home and pet?

What is a Key Lock Box?

A key lock box is a small metal box that can be attached to your door or home. It is equipped with a combination that opens the box. Inside you are supposed to place the key to your home for easy access. It is the same thing that realtors use for houses they are trying to sell. The big difference is most homes with a lock box are empty.

How Secure is a Key Lock Box?

I did a little research and I found several YouTube videos with step by step instructions on how to break into a lock box. All the thief needs are a pair of scissors, an aluminum can and a little knowledge. The thief can break into that lock box in less than three minutes. Once the thief does that he or she has the key to your home where he or she can let themselves in to not only steal from you but either harm, steal or release your beloved pets.

But I live in a Secure Building.

A secure building does help, but these building also have workers coming in and out. If someone is adept at breaking into lock boxes it won’t take them very long before they have your keys in hand. And while a lot of these building have security cameras, someone intent on getting in and out of your apartment or condo without being caught on camera is going to do just that. Why give them extra help by providing them with a key?

Why We Decided against them

When I was selling my mother’s home our real estate agent would not put a lock box on the door because she felt that it would make my mother’s home vulnerable. There were still items inside the home. I’m sure a lock box would be fine for a realtor who wants to sell an empty house but are you willing to take that chance with your home and pets. I know I wouldn’t be.

From the very beginning Dances with Dogs has taken the security of our clients’ homes very seriously and that is why we will not be jumping on the lock box train unless the technology improves considerably.

What is your thought on the key lock box?

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets

Blacktop road with yellow are you ready wording.

Disaster preparedness should include your pets. Are you Ready?

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. What most of us think about when we think about disaster preparedness is how do I keep my family safe? How many days of food and water should we have? How much water do we need per person? What important papers do we need to keep with us? What should we take with us if we need to evacuate?

You have prepared for your human family, but what about your pets? Here are a few things to help your disaster preparedness for your pets.

Identification

All dogs and cats should wear a collar and identification tag. It is a good idea to put more than one phone number on the tag if possible, in case you lose your cell phone. Pets can escape if your home is damaged or if you must evacuate and your pet gets scared and bolts out of an open door.

Microchip

Collars come off for a variety of reasons, so it is a good idea to have your pets microchipped as well. Make sure your information is up to date with the microchip company.

Pet Rescue Sticker

Some emergencies require you to leave your home in a hurry and scared pets can be difficult to locate. A pet rescue sticker will notify rescue workers that there are pets in your home. This sticker should be placed where it is very visible and should be updated to include current pets in your home.

Pet-Friendly Places to Stay

If you must evacuate with your pets you will need a pet-friendly place to go. Don’t wait until the last minute to try and find a place to evacuate to with your pets. Not all emergency shelters accept pets and once the pet-friendly shelters are full they cannot take in any more people and their pets. Some boarding facilities and veterinarians will board your pets during a natural disaster, but if they are under mandatory evacuation you will once again be looking for a place for your pets. These facilities also fill up fast, so make arrangements well ahead of time. You can also talk to friends and family that are out of harm’s way and close enough to get to, ask if they will take your pets. If you want to keep your pets with you, here is a list of pet-friendly hotel chains.

Who Near You Can Help?

If the disaster happens while you are away from home who can you call to help you with your pets? Choose someone who lives near to you that will be able to get into your home and evacuate your pets if you can’t.

Have an Emergency Kit for Each Pet

Each of your pets should have an emergency kit that includes the following:

  • Carrier – If you need to evacuate your pet you will need a way to contain them and easily move them. If you are going to stay in your home you should still contain your pets, in case your home is damaged.
  • Collar or harness and Leash – While your dog or cat should always be wearing identification, you should have an additional collar with identification in case the collar your pet is wearing should break or get lost. An extra leash should always be on hand.
  • Food and Water – You should have a week’s worth of food for each of your pets. This should be stored in airtight containers and stored with the rest of your evacuation items. If you feed dry food, make sure you change out the food every two months to prevent spoilage. Canned food should be changed out every three months. There is a possibility that authorities will declare the water unsafe to drink. Make sure that you have enough water for everyone including your pets.
  • Litter and Pans – If you are evacuating it might be easier to have several disposable litter pans that you can take with you. Make sure you purchase the pans that have the litter included. If you are going to be staying home have enough litter for at least one week and store in an elevated area where it will not get wet.
  • Pet First-Aid Kit – There are some great pet first aid kits on the market, but always check with your veterinarian to ensure your kit is complete. Your vet may suggest some items that are not included in a commercially available kit.
  • Medication – Plan to have at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s prescription medication. Your pet should be up to date on heartworm and flea and tick preventative too. If their next dose is looming near make sure you have those mediations on hand also.
  • Photographs of your pets – If your pet gets lost you want to be able to post their picture on lost pet sites and make lost pet posters quickly. This is also important so that you can provide proof of ownership if your pet is found.
  • Vaccination records – You will want to have proof that your pets are vaccinated.
  • Small pets – If you have small pets such as gerbils or hamsters make sure you have enough extra bedding for their cages. Be sure to take a water bottle for them.
  • Birds – Depending on the weather, have a misting bottle on hand to keep your bird cool in warmer weather. You may need extra blankets to cover their cage if the weather is cooler. Having a catch net and heavy towel or blanket on hand is a good idea.

Are your pets prepared for a disaster? Share your disaster preparedness plans with us. We would love to hear how you have prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

How Your Pet Sitter Keeps Your Home Safe: Keys, Alarm Codes and More

 

Chocolate lab getting a chin scratch

Pet sitters help keep your pets and home safe

When I first started Dances with Dogs 16 years ago my husband looked at me and said, “no one is ever going to give you the keys to their home.” Thankfully he was wrong, but I took his words seriously and have made our clients’ home security a top priority. We strive to keep your home safe, along with your pets, when entrusted to our care.

So, what do Dances with Dogs do to help keep your home safe?

Advertising

We never advertise our pet sitting services on our vehicles or clothing while at your home. Why do we do this? Because we feel that this type of advertising attracts unwanted attention to your home, announcing that you are away.

Keys

We take having the keys to your home very seriously. Keys are never tagged with your name or address. Keys are locked securely away when not in use. There is always a backup key locked up in our office in case of an emergency. Keys are never returned by leaving them under doormats or planters, they are only returned in person. We will not leave your keys in your home on the last visit and lock the door when we leave. What happens if you are delayed and we need to make an additional visit?

Alarm Codes

Alarm codes are stored on our secure online scheduling system. We ask that you now write them down and leave them in your home.

Home and Pet Information

All information you provide to us about your home and pets is also stored on our secure online scheduling system.

So next time you travel you can be assured that Dances with Dogs takes your home security seriously and know that your home and keys are well taken care of as well as your pets of course.

If you have questions and would like more information give us a call at 786-299-1552  

Daily Visits for Cats: Why We Require Them

 

Cat being pet

Cats need social interaction.

It is easy to see the independence and aloofness of cats as cats not needing much social interaction and care. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Cats need daily care for several reasons. Here are a few:

Cats Are Cats

What does that mean? Cats can find themselves in some precarious situations.

A few years ago, I went to care for one of our kitty clients. It was cold for South Florida, down in the 50s. When I arrived at the house I could not find one of the cats, Gizmo. I looked all over the house and called his name, but no Gizmo. I looked under beds and in cabinets. No Gizmo. I knew he had not gotten out, the house was secure, but I walked out onto the patio anyway, calling his name. As I turned around to go back inside I saw him. He was wedged between a desk and the other sliding glass door. He was on his back with his feet up in the air, unable to move. I rushed to get him out of his predicament. How long had he been there? How long had that cold glass been pulling the heat from his body?

Fortunately for Gizmo, the ending is a happy one. I got him warmed up and he was fine, but what would have happened if I had been visiting every other day? Would the ending have been the same? I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think so.

Cats get trapped in bedrooms and closets, drawers and crawl spaces. Cats are curious and that curiosity can get them in trouble.

Cats Are Social

Contrary to the old myth that felines are aloof and independent, cats are actually very social creatures. Cats get lonely and need daily social interaction. Even if you know your cat is going to hide under the bed when the pet sitter arrives, your cat will appreciate having someone in the house. 

Cat in bowl by window

Cats are social and need attention.

Illness

Kitties are incredibly sensitive creatures and delaying medical attention can be life-threatening. If your cat falls ill while you are away a professional pet sitter should be able to get your cat to the veterinarian in a timely manner.

Overeating

Yes, cats can regulate their intake of food, but will they? Obesity is a problem not only for people but also for pets (click here for more information on pet obesity). Leaving “extra” food down for your cat while you are away can lead to your cat overeating and getting sick. A pet sitter will not only be able to portion out your cat’s food properly but will also be able to judge how much or how little your cat is eating. Loss of appetite can be a sign your cat is not feeling well. 

Cat on table

Cats can overeat.

Water, Water, Water

Cats need to have access to fresh water at all times in order to flush toxins from their kidneys. If your cat plays in their water bowl or accidentally tips their bowl over, they could be without water for quite some time if they are not being visited daily. Your pet sitter will also be able to notice if your cat is not drinking enough water which could be a sign of illness.

Checking on Your Home

Some of the things that burglars look for when casing a house is a pile-up of mail, newspapers, packages, and advertisements on the door. Having your cat visited daily has the extra benefit of having your home checked on too. And then there are the unexpected things that happen to your home such as roof leaks and burst water pipes. Having a pet sitter check on your home daily means having these problems caught early so that the damage can be mitigated.

Next time you are making travel plans, be sure to hire a professional pet sitter to check on your cat daily while you are away. Your cat and home will thank you.

If you would like more information on our cat sitting service please contact us.