With all those delicious smells coming from the kitchen on Thanksgiving, you can’t really blame your pet when they want to spend all of their time in there with you. Counter surfing, getting into the garbage, and well-meaning friends, can be the difference between a lovely dinner or inducing vomiting in your pet just before dessert.
So how do we avoid this? Make sure your pets are unable to get into the kitchen, either crate or restrict them to a certain room or floor of your home. Garbage should be made inaccessible and/or removed from the home in a timely manner. Talk to your guests and their children in advance to make sure they understand that table scraps are not allowed.
If you have family/friends coming who love animals, but maybe don’t know which foods are dangerous for your pet, take the time to explain to them the true dangers of sharing a goodie with your pet. Here’s a rundown of some of the most dangerous foods that make an appearance on Thanksgiving.
If you think your dog or cat ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for life-saving care, right away. When it comes to any poisoning situation, the sooner you diagnose it, the easier it is to potentially treat, less invasive it is to your pet, and the less expensive it is for you. Now, that’s something to be grateful for.
The past several months we’ve had to say a lot of good byes. Some were pets that have been in our care for years, others were more recent. The good byes were different with each pet; whether they had passed from old age/illness, or simply moved far away, I felt the loss of their presence. After 6 years I still cry on the last day of walks before a client moves or when I hear of a pet passing away. It makes me question whether I’m too attached, but then I receive an email from a new client. They have a puppy and want to build a relationship. Before I can finish grieving, the cycle begins again.
As a pet parent, this is something we go through several times throughout our lives. As Agnes Sligh Turnbull said, “Dog’s lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” This can be applied to all pets. They rarely outlive us, which makes it our responsibility to make the time they have with us the best it can be.
So how do we do that? It means putting away your phone on walks, setting aside some time to play, and exposing your pet to as many different experiences as possible. Be present when spending time with your pet. Remember, they might be just a part of your life. But you’re their whole life.
In honor of September being Happy Cat Month, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite products for the felines in our life.
I've spent the last 12 years catering to my little furry man, so I've tried quite a few different products, from cat pans and litter to toys and health care.
Here are some of my (er, Jack's) favorites!
1) Best Cat Pan - Hagen CatIt Hooded Cat Pan
This is a large pan that's great for multi-cat households. The swinging door flips up for easy cleaning.
2) Best Litter Mat - iPrimio XL Cat Litter Trapper
Seriously, run don't walk. Buy this immediately. Traps more litter than any other mat I've tried and Jack loves walking on it (not the case with other mats we've tried in the past). The best part is that you can easily dump the loose litter back into the pan instead of losing it the vacuum.
3) Best Litter - Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Litter
I know some people stay away from clay based litters, but I've found them to be the best with odor absorbing. This litter is great because there is NO dust. It clumps great and absorbs all odors. Plus you can get a huge bag on amazon to save you some heavy lifting.
4) Best Scooper - DuraScoop Cat Litter Scoop
Jack likes to create "mega pees" an enormous clump created from peeing in the same spot repeatedly. This means I need a scooper with a strong handle (I have broken quite a few scoops cleaning out his masterpieces). This one is sturdy and allows for easy cleaning, even along the sides and bottom of the pan.
5) Best Chew Toy - Petstages Dental Health Chew Toy
Jack is absolutely obsessed with these. It comes as a 2-pack, so it's great for multi-cat homes. Brushing your pets teeth can be a process, but these catnip filled toys gently remove the soft tarter before it can cause cavities.
6) Best Brush - FURminator Deshedding Tool
Whether you have a long or short haired cat, you know that shedding is a thing you will have to live with. We've all seen the little kitty tumble weeds of hair under furniture and in the corners. This brush removes all of the loose hair and leaves your cats fur shiny and your floors clean!
7) Best Stick Toy - Cat Dancer Wand
Sometimes the simplest toys are the best. Jack has broken every stick toy he's ever had, especially the ones with interchangeable attachments. The felt is easy to clean and despite rough play, is still intact after 2 years!
8) Best Scratching Post - Pet Fusion 3-sided Cat Scratcher
I love this because it doesn't look like a traditional scratching post. It sits in my living room to help keep Jack from destroying our leather couches. After sprinkling with some of the included cat nip, its Jack's new favorite place to scratch.
9) Best Treats - Smart N' Tasty Feline Dental Treats
I received these as part of a KitNip Box subscription. Jack loves all food, but I've never seen him get so excited for a greenie type product. I like that they are all natural and make his breath smell better.
10) Best Ear Care - Ear Cleaning Solution by Vetoquinol
Jack has always been good with his grooming habits, but his ears. Ug, always dirty! We had him tested multiple times for infections and ear mites, and were finally told that he just produces a lot a ear wax. This stuff removes all the residue and makes his ears smell nice.
Being a pet parent means taking on a lot of responsibility. You are in charge of keeping your pet nourished, clean, happy and healthy. The last part can be difficult as so many factors are outside of your control. What if they eat something off the ground while on a walk and become ill? What if they develop a growth or rash? Visits to your veterinarian can be costly when x-rays and blood work come into play. Unless you are independetly wealthy, there may come a time when the price of your pets care is more than you can afford. What then?
A former client of mine was faced with this difficult decision when her dog had to be rushed to BluePearl when he suddenly had trouble walking and was in extreme pain. After emergency surgery and a lengthy hospital stay, the final bill was in the 5 figures. Far more than she could afford. Fortunately they were covered by Trupanion and were only responsible for a fraction of the cost.
Many pets go through life without any major accidents or illnesses, but there's no way to know for sure. If you can't afford the monthly insurance payments, you can always set aside what you can in a separate savings account to help offset any emergency vet visits.
The pros and cons of pet insurance vary from plan to plan. Depending on your pet, the yearly costs may be far more than your actual vet bills. But what is the price of the peace of mind knowing that if the worst should happen, your pet will receive the best of care with minimal impact on your wallet?
If you are a dog owner living in Forest Hills, Rego Park or Kew Gardens, then I’m sure you’re aware of the limited availability of off-leash areas to take your pup. The grand central underpass run is often very dirty, and Flushing Meadow has a strict time restraint for when dogs can be off leash. Without a car, you may not even know about the dog run along 85th Street and 84th Street and Park Lane South.
All that has changed thanks to the addition of a 9,000 sq. ft dog park near the Overlook. Opening last Monday, June 27th, the run is very basic, but the large grassy enclosure is already a favorite with dogs in the area. A local group of dog owners have united to help maintain and improve upon the park. The Forest Hills Barking Lot community have plans to start collecting a $25 annual membership fee to cover these expenses and add benches, bag dispensers and dog ramps over time.
If you’ve recently visited the run, please submit your pictures and videos! I can’t wait to take some of our Happy Pets.
It's finally here! Long days and cool nights mean lots of extra time to spend outside with your pup. Whether that means going to the beach or hanging out by the pool, there's a few precautions that should be taken to ensure everyone has a good time.
Water Safety: With temperatures rising, we often seek relief by going swimming. What does that mean for our fuzzy companions? Not all dogs know how to swim, even those that do, might not be strong enough to sustain a long or difficult swim. If you plan to spend time by the water, you should look into getting your furry companion a life jacket. Bright and easy to put on, this is an easy solution for dogs of all sizes.
Heat Safety: It is very easy for dogs to overheat if you don't know the warning signs.
Sun Safety: While most dogs do just fine out in the sun, there are a few important things you should know about dog sunburn and dog skin cancer.
#1 – Apply a dog sunscreen.
When should sunblock be applied? You’ll want to put a quality dog sunscreen on each time before your dog goes outside — especially if your dog will be spending a lot of time out in the sun.
Where should sunblock be applied on a dog? Put it on your dog’s nose, belly, ears, and groin. Any spot that is normally "pink" on you'd dog — including any skin that shows when your dog is shaved — should be protected with sunscreen prior to being outdoors for long periods of time. Avoid using dog sunscreen around the eyes. (see #5 below)
#2 – Don't cut your dog's fur too short.
Your dog’s hair is one of the things that helps to protect the skin from sun exposure. If your dog has at least half-an-inch of fur, then it would be highly unlikely that sunburn would ever occur. However, if your dog is shaved, then be very careful whenever he is exposed to the sun. That said, fur alone isn't the best source of sun protection.
#3 – Buy sun protection dog clothes.
In addition to mid-length dog shirts, look for a full-body dog sunsuit. Ideally, you want at least 30+ UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor).
#5 –Protect your dog's eyes.
The eyes are a common spot for canine melanoma. That’s why doggie sunglasses, like Doggles, are so popular. They’re the world’s only eyewear made just for dogs.
Pet goggles for dogs offer 100% UV protection, and shatterproof, anti-fog lenses facilitated by side air vents; a very flexible, wrap around foam padded frame; interchangeable capable lenses; two adjustable soft elastic head and chin straps; for complete and beneficial dog goggle eye protection for your pet.
What If Your Dog Gets Sunburned?
If your dog does happen to become sunburned, 100% pure Aloe Vera gel is the best way to quickly and easily soothe your dog's skin.
The weather is finally starting to warm up and all we want to do is spend as much time outside as humanly possible. Your pets are excited too and can't wait to get out and explore. With the change in weather, there also comes new threats to your pets safety. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind while enjoying the season.
1. Poisonous plants. If your pets like to nibble on the plants in your yard or on walks, you should know which ones could be harmful to your furry pal. Some popular ones that are harmful to both cats and dogs are rhododendron, sago palm, and azaleas. You can see a full list here ASPCA.org
2. Sticks. Once the snow is melted, all the broken branches are revealed. While your dog may think, "New Toy!," you should be thinking of a way to keep them away. Sticks can cause choking or injury to the mouth and throat. If your dog loves to pick them up on walks, try bringing a favorite toy or ball to distract him instead.
3. Spring Cleaning. Not all hazards are found outside. Some cleaning products are quite harmful, whether ingested or inhaled. Remember to always ventilate and look into purchasing all natural, pet-safe products.
4. Seasonal Allergies. They're not just for humans! For dogs, symptoms usually present as a skin condition, like a rash. So while your dog may not be reaching for the tissues, you should be aware of allergy symptoms all the same. Generally they are pretty itchy, which may include, outright scratching as well as licking or chewing their paws and rubbing their face and ears on the couch or carpet.
5. Bugs! While we may think of fleas and ticks as a seasonal issues, this is something that should be treated year-round.
Phew! So now that you know the best way to keep your pet safe this Spring, it's time to get outside and enjoy the nice weather.
In this industry we come across all types of pets; the super friendly, the crazy with excitement, the aggressive and the fearful. I'm a firm believer that all animals deserve our love and understanding, but sometimes that can be difficult to achieve when the pet hides from us.
For example, we have a few dogs within the Happy Pets family that suffer from various degrees of anxiety. This ranges from fear of people in the home, fear of the outdoors, and fear of strangers. Dogs often respond to fear by barking, which is often misinterpreted as aggression. Barking is a dog's way of telling a person, or another dog, to keep their distance. The biggest mistake someone can make is to try to force a barking dog to do something they are scared of. Sometimes the best course of action is just to wait them out. Once they see you don't pose a threat, their curiosity (and noses) will take over, and they will break out of their shell.
I often tell my staff to offer a treat (smells good!) and let the dog come to them. Don't overestimate the power of just sitting and letting the dog smell you first. A few other tips that I've found helpful are avoiding direct eye contact or staring as well as turning the body slightly to the side. The dog will not be as threatened if your body language is less domineering and aggressive.
So, what do you do if your fearful pet is of the feline persuasion? Many of the same tips still apply! Sit down and let the cat come to you. Avoid trying to pet them right away. You can also gain trust with a cat by using the slow blink technique. Cats only close their eyes around people they trust. By making eye contact with the fearful kitty and engaging in slow blinking (slowly close your lids and hold closed for a few second, before slowly opening again). Cats are natural mimics, and will soon follow suit. This trust building exercise will soon have your fearful feline purring in no time.
So you've brought home your new puppy and everything they do is impossibly cute. The tail chasing, the little whimpers for attention, the excitement over new toys, exploring the world with their mouths. While mouthy behavior is not unusual for puppies, it can easily transition into a much unwanted, and painful, behavior. So, how to put a stop to it without yelling?
It's never too soon to begin training your puppy. Their mother and siblings would normally help curb unwanted behaviors, so it's our job as the pet parent to address these social skills. The first skill you should teach your new puppy is to "sit" on command. Not only is this one of the easier tricks to teach, it also is a useful tool to help calm your rambunctious your little one.
Once you have mastered "sit" you can progress to teaching your puppy that calm behavior is the wanted behavior. A great game for teaching self-control is “Go Wild And Freeze.”
When your puppy "sits" reliably, add some moderately exciting “wild” movement – make funny noises, wave your hands, hop up and down a few times. Before your dog becomes overexcited, freeze, stand tall, and tell him, “Sit.” Reward when he does. Make some more “wild” movements and sounds, then stop and have him sit for reward again.
Repeat, increasing the time and wildness of your actions. Do not add more excitement than your dog can tolerate without starting to play bite.
Once your dog learns to play Go Wild And Freeze this way, start including it as part of your fetch games and tug games, too. You will be able to use this freeze-and-sit skill, taught as part of your games, any time your dog starts to get overexcited both while playing and at other times.
Does your dog growl and bark when another dog passes by? Does he stiffen and stare at the dog minding it’s business across the street? Your dog may be exhibiting signs of dog on dog aggression. While much of this behavior is based in fear, if left untreated, it can escalate into true aggression.
So what do you do? Likely you’ve been scolding your dog for his outbursts, pulling him away while he’s barking, or crossing the street to avoid an altercation all together. At this point you’ve noticed that the behavior is continuing and may even be increasing in frequency. There are several reasons why. Firstly, pulling your dog never works. As with walking on a loose leash, a tight leash should be treated the same way. Simply hold your ground. Do NOT pull back. You will just end up in a game of tug of war. By holding still you are diffusing the energy and providing structure. You will be surprised how quickly they learn that a slack leash means they get to go where they want.
Secondly, keeping an eye out for approaching dogs and keeping your distance is much easier than trying to calm down an excited dog. Pay attention to your dog’s body language when they first see the dog. If they keep moving forward at a normal pace, keep going. You haven’t reached their threshold yet. If they stop and stare, but the tail is still relaxed, you have your chance to begin counterconditioning your dog. More on that later. If they crouch down, growl or show any other outward signs of distress, it’s time to pick up and go. Your best option is to cross the street. Simply changing your direction now puts this new dog behind yours, which won’t make your dog happy. They will keep trying to check behind them and you’ll have a hard time getting them to move forward.
Third, yelling at your dog never works. All they hear is noise and excitement and they will feed off that. A firm “no” followed by a correction (if needed) is all it should take to snap them out of their frenzy. If you remain calm, your dog will be calm.
Let’s talk about counter conditioning. If someone gave you a cookie every time you cleaned your home, you’d probably have a really clean home. Same theory works for dogs. By replacing a negative experience with a positive one, you are conditioning your dog to associate good things with other dogs. When you see another dog approaching on your walk, watch your dog for signs of tension. If they see the dog and keep walking calmly, slip your dog a small treat (1 bite). You can keep treating your dog as long as the behavior is acceptable. Dogs won’t eat when stressed, so if your dog stops responding to the treats, you have pushed him beyond his threshold. Increase distance from the other dog and start again.
This will not be a fast process, but if you are consistent with your dog, you will see a difference in their behavior. And remember, if you’re still having problems, I offer several packages for obedience training.
My name is Jamie and I am the proud owner of Happy Pets NYC. I started this company in 2009 by doing all of the walks and pet sitting myself. After a year, I hired my first pet care provider. Now, over 10 years later, we employ a full team of dedicated providers who share my passion and love of animals.