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Lost Pet Prevention: 7 Tips for Protecting Your Pet

Lost dog poster on light post

Lost Pet poster.

July is Lost Pet Prevention Month. It only takes a second for one of our beloved pets to get away from us and become lost. Here are 7 tips for keeping your pet safe so that you can prevent having to go through the heartache of losing your precious pet.

1. Entryways

Always make sure doors and windows are secure. It only takes a second for your beloved pet to slip out of a door that wasn’t properly latched or an open window. Teach your dog to wait at doorways until released. By teaching this valuable cue you could prevent your dog from walking or running out the door and becoming a lost pet before you even realize he or she is gone. Ask your friends and family to be quick when entering and exiting your home so that doors do not have to be open for too long.

2. Gates and Fences

Before you let your dog in your yard make sure all gates are closed and latched. It a good idea to do periodic checks of your fence perimeter to look for holes or gaps your dog could slip under or through. And never leave your dog in the yard unattended. 

3. Collars and Harnesses 

Avoid a Lost Pet, make sure your dog has a properly fitting collar with an identification tag.

Make sure your dog’s collar or harness fits properly. A loud noise or aggressive dog could cause your dog to panic and back out of his or her collar or harness. Always keep a firm grip on the leash when out for a walk.

4. Recall

Teach your dog to come when called. This could save your dog’s life in numerous situations, but if your dog does get away from you a good recall could prevent your dog from running away and getting lost.

5. Seatbelts and Crates

Avoid a lost pet when transporting to your veterinarian or groomer. Secure your pet in a crate when in the car.

Always have your pet secured in a crate when transporting him or her to the vet or groomer. If you have a large dog, you can secure them in a harness that attaches to your car’s seatbelt. Pets can find travel stressful and if they accidentally get loose in a strange environment they may startle and run. 

6.Identification

If your dog or cat does get loose it is important for them to have identification so that you can get your lost pet back to you as quickly as possible. Your pets should have a collar with an ID tag attached. But tags come loose, and collars come off and get lost so your pet should also be microchipped. Read our blog on microchipping to learn more about this invaluable form of identification.

7. Proof of Ownership

If your lost pet is found, you will probably be required to show proof of ownership. Having your pet’s records and a few photos of you with your pet will go a long way to you getting your pet back quickly.

Contact us to learn more about teaching your dog to wait at the door and come when called.

What is Ehrlichiosis and How Can It Affect My Dog?

Here in South Florida, we enjoy warm weather year-round. We have the luxury of taking our dogs out with us to enjoy the Florida sunshine throughout the year. Ticks love warm weather too. The tick-borne disease, Ehrlichiosis, is found in dogs more frequently than you might think. In fact, there are some veterinarians who think their canine patients should be checked yearly for the disease just like they are checked for heartworm.

What is Ehrlichiosis in Dogs?

Lone star tick in finger

The lone star tick is one of the most common ticks to spread Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial infection that is caused by a tick bite. The rickettsial organism is responsible for this tick-borne disease. There are two types of Ehrlichiosis in dogs: Canine Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis and Canine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis.

How Can My Dog Get Ehrlichiosis?

Ehrlichiosis is transmitted when a dog is bitten by an infected tick. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the lone star tick is the most common tick to carry Canine Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis. The brown dog tick is the most common transmitter of Canine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis. As the name implies, the brown dog tick feeds mainly off dogs and is, therefore, most commonly found in areas where dogs frequent, such as dog parks.

What Are the Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis In Dogs?

Dogs infected with Ehrlichiosis may show symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, weight loss, lethargy, lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, lameness, chronic eye inflammation, fever, respiratory distress and bleeding conditions, depending on the type. Occasionally there are signs of neurological disorders. When dogs are exhibiting these symptoms, they are at the chronic stage, having had the infection for some time. 

Dog being examined by veterinarian

There are several symptoms your dog may exhibit if infected with Ehrlichiosis.

Dogs in the early stages of the disease do not normally show any signs. One of the ways the disease may be diagnosed early is if blood is taken and shows a low platelet count. Some dogs that are exposed, never show any signs of the disease.

How Can I Prevent Ehrlichiosis In My Dog?

There is no vaccine for the prevention of Ehrlichiosis, so the best way to prevent the disease is to protect your dog from tick bites. Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention for your dog.

What Happens If My Dog Is Diagnosed?

The most common treatment is the antibiotic doxycycline.

If your dog is experiencing a bleeding disorder, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

Once your dog receives treatment the prognosis for a complete recovery is good and you should see improvements within the first day or two.

Can I Get It?

Yes, but only from a tick bite. You cannot get it from your dog as the disease is only transmitted through tick bites.

Ehrlichiosis is a very serious disease and it is wise to check your dog regularly for ticks. Please make sure you know the correct method for removing ticks as doing this incorrectly can cause the tick head to break off and cause infection or cause the tick to excrete more saliva increasing your dog’s chances of becoming ill.

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Microchipping Pets: Costs and Benefits

Losing a pet is a pet owner’s worst nightmare.  Sometimes, pets are never recovered, but microchipping your pet increases the odds of being reunited with your lost pet. According to PetFinder.com “Only about 22 percent of lost dogs that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52 percent (a 238 percent increase). Less than 2 percent of lost cats that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families.” 

Little girl reunited with her dog

Microchipping your pet increases the chances you will be reunited if they are ever lost.

What is microchipping?

A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. This electronic chip is enclosed in a glass cylinder and when a scanner passes over the chip, the chip is activated and transmits an identification number unique to your pet. It is inserted under your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades, through a hypodermic needle. There is no surgery required and it should not be any more painful than a normal injection.

What Information Does the Microchip Contain?

Your pet’s microchip will contain an identification number and is registered with a microchip registry where your contact information is stored. If your pet should become lost a veterinarian, shelter or rescue group can scan your pet and contact the microchip registry to notify them that they have your pet. The microchip registry will then contact you. Your contact information is not shared with the rescuer.

Cat being scanned for microchip

If your lost pet is found a veterinarian or rescue will scan for a microchip.

Do Microchips Have GPS?

No, microchips are not the same as GPS and do not have the capability to track your pet.

Do I Still Need Identification Tags if My Pet is Microchipped?

Yes! Identification tags are the quickest way for you to be reunited with your pet. While a microchip is a permanent identification that cannot be tampered with, having an identification tag attached to your pet’s collar makes it easy for the person who finds your pet to contact you immediately. However, if your pet’s collar is removed or lost, a microchip may be the only way you will be reunited with your pet.

Are Only Dogs and Cats Microchipped?

No, all kinds of pets are microchipped including rabbits, horses, cows, ferrets, reptiles and many more.

At What Age Can my Pet Be Microchipped?

Most Shelters and veterinarians will microchip your dog or cat once they are 8 weeks old. It is actually the size of your pet that determines when they can be microchipped.

What Are the Risks of Microchipping?

Complications from microchipping your pet are very rare. There have been cases of a pet developing a cancerous tumor at the microchip site, but those cases are very rare. The benefits of getting your lost pet back far outweigh the risks. 

Veterinarian injecting microchip into a dog.

Microchipping can be done by your veterinarian or local shelter.

How Do I Get My Pet Microchipped?

Your veterinarian or local animal shelter can microchip your pet for you. If you adopt a pet from your shelter or local pet rescue it will most likely already be microchipped.

How Much Does Microchipping Cost?

The average cost is about $45 however, your local shelter or Humane Society will usually offer microchipping at a discounted price. The price is a one-time fee. If you are adopted your pet from a local shelter or rescue, it is likely that your pet is already microchipped.

Do I have to Register My Pet’s Microchip?

Yes. When your pet is microchipped the shelter or veterinarian will provide you with the information you need to have your pet’s microchip registered. If you move or change phone numbers, you will need to update your contact information.

May is National Chip Your Pet month. This is a great time to get your pet microchipped if you have not already done so. This is also a great time to have your pet’s microchip checked by taking them to your local veterinarian to have them scanned.

Is your pet microchipped? Tell us what type of pet you have and why or why not you have chosen to have your pet microchipped.

 

Five Plants that are Toxic to Your Pets

While we love having plants in our homes and yards we need to be aware that some of those plants are toxic to our pets. Our pets are not aware of the dangers and may chew on the leaves or flowers of these common plants.

Aloe

We have all seen the articles about having aloe plants in our home to clean the air, but aloe can be very toxic to our dogs and cats. If you suspect your pet has ingested aloe here are some of the symptoms to look for: diarrhea, vomiting, depression, and occasional tremors. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately. 

Aloe is Toxic to Both Dogs and Cats.

Bird of Paradise

This plant is all over South Florida and it can be mildly toxic to your dogs and cats. If you suspect your pet has ingested Bird of Paradise some of the symptoms will include lethargy, vomiting, and nausea. Get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Bird of Paradise can cause lethargy and more when ingested.

Calla Lily

This is a very common house plant and it can be very toxic to your dogs and cats.  If you suspect your pet your pet has ingested any part of a calla lily plant you need to seek immediate veterinary attention for them. Some of the symptoms are excessive drooling, vomiting, and irritation of the mouth. 

Calla Lily can burn and irritate your pet’s mouth.

Rubber Plant

While this plant is not as toxic as some of the others, it is a common houseplant and caution needs to be used. The rubber plant is toxic to both dogs and cats and will cause diarrhea and vomiting. Contact your veterinarian to see what your course of action should be if your pet ingests any part of this plant.

This common house plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Sago Palm

This plant is very common in South Florida and is extremely toxic to your dogs and cats. If your pet ingests any part of the sago palm it can cause death. You must get your pet to a veterinarian without delay. Some of the symptoms are increased thirst, bruising and vomiting. Ingestion of the sago palm can cause severe internal bleeding, liver damage, and even liver failure. 

The sago palm can be deadly to your pets.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know.

 

 

How to Tell if Your Pet is Overweight and What to do About It.

 

Did you know that over 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight according to the latest veterinary surveys? An obese pet is at greater risk of developing severe health problems. Is your pet fat?

What are the Health Risks?

  • Heart disease

    Overweight dog

    Having an overweight pet puts them at risk for several health issues.

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis
  • Many forms of cancer

How can I tell if my dog or cat is overweight?

There are many Body Condition Score (BCS) charts you can find online, but here are a few guidelines for dogs and cats:

  • Obese – It is difficult to feel the ribs because there is a thick layer of fat. The base of the tail is thick and it is difficult to feel the tail base because there is a thick layer of fat. When viewing your pet from above, the back is widened and no waist definition. When viewing your pet from the side there is no waist and your cat may have that hanging belly that swings from side to side when it moves.                    

    Overweight cat

    Having an overweight pet puts them at risk for several health issues.

  • Overweight – It is hard to feel the ribs because there is a sufficient layer of fat. The base of the tail is somewhat thick and hard to feel because of the layer of fat between the bone and the skin. When viewing your pet from above the back is widened and there is little if any waist definition. When viewing your pet from the side there is little if any belly tuck and your cat may still have that hanging belly that swings from side to side when it moves.

What is the ideal body condition for my dog or cat?

  • You can easily feel the ribs.
  • You can feel the base of the tail.
  • When viewing your dog or cat from above there is a defined waist.
  • When viewing your dog or cat from the side there is a belly tuck.

What can I do to help my overweight pet?

Cutting back on their food and increasing exercise are two great places to start. Talk to your veterinarian about how much you should cut out of your pet’s diet and how much exercise they suggest. This is also a great time to rule out any health issues that are already present or are brewing.

Start increasing your pet’s exercise gradually. Just like you can’t get from couch potato to marathon runner, neither can your pet.

While you can grab a leash, and take your dog for a walk, exercising cats take a little more creativity. Use your cat’s inner hunting instinct and play, play, play. Cats are more active at sunrise and sunset, so those are the times you will get more play activity from your cat.

If you don’t have the time to exercise your dog or cat, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to get your pets moving.

Dances with Dogs has a proven track record of helping pets drop unwanted pounds. Click here for more information on how we can help you help your dog or cat lose the weight.

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.

The Importance of Picking Up After Your Dog

 

Every day I am out walking dogs and every day I see piles left by dog owners who don’t pick up after their dog. I get it! Sticking my hand in a bag so I can pick up a warm pile of dog poop is not exactly on the top 10 list of my most favorite things. But what are the consequences of not picking up after your dog? Well, there are many. Here are just a few of the things that dog poop can contain:

  • E-Coli
  • Salmonella
  • Parvovirus
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Cryptosporidium

[Read more…]