Pet Wellness and Health

Top 5 Halloween Safety Tips for your Pet

With Halloween just around the corner, as pet sitters we get asked a lot of questions about costumes and treats for pets. While it’s a lot of fun to include your pets in the festivities, there are also a few things you should keep in mind to make sure this Halloween holiday is fun and safe for your dog or cat. Here is a breakdown of our Top 5 things to watch out for to keep your pets safe during Halloween:

Trick-or-Treaters

You will be opening and closing your front door to trick-or-treaters all night long. It’s recommended that you keep your pet in a secure place. You can put them in a separate room or even put up a gate that will keep them from having access to the front door. But please do be sure your pet has an ID tag on and even a microchip in case they do accidently escape.

Black Cats

Cats should be kept indoors around the holiday as well. Unfortunately, there are people that like to play pranks with black cats in particular. It is not uncommon for these cases of animal cruelty to occur. There are even shelters and rescues that won’t adopt out black cats during this time. So, it’s best to be safe rather than sorry. Your feline companion will appreciate it.

Pumpkin Carving

It’s time to carve that pumpkin. Your pet may be overly curious and feel the desire to examine your pumpkin guts. Chunks of pumpkin or even pumpkin seed can become lodged in your pet’s throat or an intestinal blockage can occur as well. Make sure you thoroughly clean up after yourself to ensure your furry companion doesn’t ingest anything that can harm them.

Candy Candy Candy!

Your house will be full of sweets. You need to be sure these tasty treats will be out of reach and in a location that your pet cannot get into. Your furbaby could choke on said candy or if it’s chocolate and enough of it they can die. Thus, it is vital you keep the sweets locked away for their safety.

Costumes for your Pets

Dressing up your pet for Halloween can be fun, as long as they actually like it. Be sure their costume fits and isn’t constricting them in any way. Bandanas are always a festive alternative.

What do you do with your pets during Halloween?

 

5 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe and Happy This Fall

Fall has arrived! Here in Atlanta and Decatur, we are enjoying the break in the weather, and cooler temperatures mean one thing: More time outside! So here are our top 5 things to be mindful of when you're spending more time outside with your dog.

Shorter Days = Less Light

Your days are getting shorter which means it’s likely it will be dark during hours you normally take your pet on a walk. You could use a reflective leash or collar or even a reflective vest to help make your pet more visible during these hours.

Cooler Weather = Warmer Clothing

Your little furbaby may be more sensitive to the cooler weather. It’s as simple as purchasing a coat or even a sweater to help keep them warmer.

Fleas & Ticks

Now that the weather is getting nicer you’re spending a lot of time soaking up the outdoors with your pet. Even though it’s cooler outside there are still fleas and ticks present. So, it is important to continue providing your pet with preventatives.

Lawn Treatment Season

Fall is a common time of year for all kinds of lawn treatments, from fertilizers to pesticides. Keep in mind that many lawn treatments are not safe for your pets, so if you’re having your yard treated be sure to familiarize yourself with the possible health hazards for your pet, and what you can do to eliminate your pet’s exposure to those chemicals.

Halloween is coming!

It’s already Halloween and the trick-or-treaters have come a knocking. Your pet will have many opportunities to escape with all the activity at the door. It’s a good idea to keep them secure to prevent that from happening. Also, you have to consider the candy that you’ll have in your home. You don’t want your pet ingesting anything toxic, such as chocolate.

Now that you’re pet is safe and happy enjoy your Fall! What outdoor activities are you enjoying this time of year with your pet? Let us know!

Have A Happy 5th of July With A Safe 4th Of July - Dog Walking And Pet Sitting Atlanta And Decatur

happy_4th_of_july_Pet_Sitting_atlanta_decatur

Woohoo! The long, holiday weekend has arrived! Here at Whoa Doggy!, we are getting prepared for the busy weekend, as lots of our clients are taking short vacations over the long weekend, and we are providing vacation pet sitting services.

There is never a shortage of fun, family-friendly ways to celebrate Independence Day in Atlanta. The 4th of July is a celebration of our Nation's independence, but is also synonymous with outdoor celebrations, BBQs with friends and family, and of course, fireworks!

There's always a party pooper, though. Every year, on the 5th of July, while we're out walking dogs, we see a lot of “lost dog” posters around our intown Decatur and Atlanta neighborhoods for dogs that were so spooked by fireworks, they escaped their homes in an attempt to get away from the scary noises.

Infographic courtesy of Tagg Pet Tracker

It is more common than you might think, and nothing will ruin your fun holiday weekend quicker than your beloved furry family member trying to make a run for it.

According to Tagg Pet Tracker, more pets run away on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. Between the 4th and 6th, there is a 30% increase in runaway dogs!

Luckily, there are a few simple precautions you can take to keep your pup nice and calm, and let him be a part of your holiday festivities. 

Here are a few quick tips to help keep your dogs safe and sound during this holiday.

Keep guests informed with a note. Include your dog in your party.

 Let your guests know that they need to participate in keeping your pets safe.

Let your guests know that they need to participate in keeping your pets safe.

This should be easy since our dogs are usually the life of the party anyway!

Keep them safe by asking your guests to keep doors and gates closed at all times to prevent accidental escapes.

Putting a note on doors and gates is a great way to remind guests that your pup should remain safely inside these areas.

Side note:  If your party is outside, remember to have plenty of cool, fresh water on-hand! Be sure to refresh those water bowls often, and remember to provide plenty of shade for your pup! Your human guests will appreciate it, too!

 

What the heck was that?!

As the evening approaches, there will surely be sounds of 4th of July celebrations and fireworks in the area. Many dogs are terrified of these noises and try to escape or outrun them.

We have actually heard stories of dogs jumping through glass windows to get away from the sound of fireworks...yikes!

Do not leave your dog outside where he may be tempted to jump the fence. It’s also a lot noisier out there and can increase the anxiety your dog might have. Keep your dog indoors in a safe, comfortable room where he cannot escape. Be mindful of any doors or windows left open (even a crack), and secure them so your pup can’t sneak out, or get hurt trying to.

If you know you’ll be away from home during the evening hours, be sure to leave a few lights on and set up his favorite bed with a few of his favorite toys to make sure he’s comfy. If you know your dog gets super anxious from fireworks, thunder, or strange noises, it might be worth it to consider staying home, or bringing him with you if you are going to a dog-friendly place where he’ll be safe and comfy.

ThunderShirts aren’t just for thunder!

 Cody during a thunderstorm in his ThunderShirt. Cool as a cucumber.

Cody during a thunderstorm in his ThunderShirt. Cool as a cucumber.

We have seen them work wonders. ThunderShirts work by basically swaddling, or hugging your dog. This constant, gentle pressure is what relieves their anxiety and makes them feel safe. According to the ThunderShirt website, over 80% of dogs and cats show significant improvement in symptoms when using ThunderShirt. They are super cute, too! You can find them at just about any pet shop in Atlanta or Decatur. We got ours from Inman Park Pet Works and couldn’t be happier.  

Use a GPS Tracker on your Dog's Collar

If all else fails, at least you will have a way of locating your dog. Products like Tagg Pet Tracker are great for telling you your dog's whereabouts. Not only can you locate your dog instantly through their handy mobile app, but you can also get alerts on your mobile device any time your pet leaves your home! Sure, it may seem like overkill, but it can be the critical difference in your pet's safety. If you have a pet that is inclined to bolt out the door, we highly recommend a product like this!

Microchips for all!

We always recommend getting your dog microchipped. A microchip is a tiny computer chip, about the size of a grain of rice, which gets implanted in your dog. The microchip contains your contact information, so that if your pet was ever found, he can be taken to just about any vet in the area to get the chip scanned. You can think of it like a permanent dog tag. There are many places to get your pet microchipped for as little as $25, including the Atlanta Humane Society. If you do a little searching, you might even find a local even that will microchip your pet for free!

And last, but certainly not least, ALWAYS keep a tag on your dog when he is not is a crate.

How do you keep your pets safe and comfy during the 4th of July holiday? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below! 

Beat The Heat: How to help your dog enjoy the hot summer safely in Atlanta & Decatur

 Cassius loves to run and play, but we need to make sure he doesn't overdo it when it's hot out!

Cassius loves to run and play, but we need to make sure he doesn't overdo it when it's hot out!

Woof! It's hot out there, and your dog feels it, too! But there are things you can to do make Atlanta's summer heat more manageable for your dog, while still having lots of fun.

Atlanta runners use a phrase that perfectly describes Atlanta:  “Heat, Hills and Humidity”. Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers in Atlanta & Decatur can relate. We’ve gotten used to the hills which give our neighborhoods wonderful character. As for the heat and humidity, let's just say we are grateful for air conditioning, and leave it at that.

But since we care for pets in Atlanta and Decatur year-round, we often spend time outside in less than ideal conditions. Summer can be one of those times. Everyone knows how hot it can get here...whew!

It’s really important to know how hot is too hot for your pets, and what you, as a loving pet owner, can do to keep your pets cool and safe during our hottest months.

Avoid Hot Surfaces

Asphalt and concrete can get very hot. Ever fried an egg on your driveway? Me neither. But you can! You wouldn't let your pet stand in a hot frying pan, but asphalt and concrete that has been in the direct sun can be just as hot, so you should be mindful of that. A good rule of thumb is to place your hand or bare foot on the hot surface. If you can't keep it there for 10 seconds or more before it gets too hot for you, then it's too hot for your dog to walk on. 

Try to limit your walks to grassy areas, or shaded areas. If you don't have much grass or shade to walk on, you can always get your dog some stylish booties to protect those paw pads from burns.

Alternatively, you can walk your dogs longer in the early mornings and evenings when it's not as hot. Another thing to consider is that since dogs are closer to the ground, the heat from those hot surfaces radiates up to their bodies and can raise their body temperature, too.

Never Leave Your Pet In A Parked Car

Even with the windows open, the temperature inside a parked car can can raise very quickly, and can lead to heat stroke. In extreme temperatures, things can get bad in a matter of minutes. For that reason, leaving your pet in an unattended car is illegal in many states.

Shade and Water aplenty

It's significantly cooler in the shade, so make sure your dog has plenty of it! When walking your dog, try to walk on the shady side of the street, or go to parks that have lots of tree cover. Make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water at all times, as pets can get dehydrated quickly. And lastly, if it's extremely hot, keep your playtime indoors as much as you can.

Cooling Vests for Everyone!

There are a few additional ways we beat the heat here at Whoa Doggy!. Have you heard of a cooling vest? This stylish vest is designed to keep your dog’s core temperature cool, even as the outside temps reach triple digits. 

More Tips for Beating the Heat

Here are a few additional helpful tips from the ASPCA website

  • Make a Safe Splash - Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool. Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
  • Screen Test - "During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets - mostly cats - fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured," says Dr. Murray. "Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions." Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.
  • Summer Style - Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs' coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Safe fun with your Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

 Lola loves to go for long walks and hang out outside all day, but when it's really hot outside, we like to supplement our dog walks with some fun indoor playtime!

Lola loves to go for long walks and hang out outside all day, but when it's really hot outside, we like to supplement our dog walks with some fun indoor playtime!

When your Whoa Doggy! dog walker or pet sitter is with your pet, we are careful to minimize the time spent outside in the hot hot heat.

We’ll always make sure they get a proper potty break and a nice walk, and if it’s really hot, we’ll spend the rest of our scheduled visit having fun, stimulating playtime inside where it is safe and cool.

We’ll always refresh water bowls with cool, clean water and will make sure your pet is comfortable before we leave.

Summer is one of our favorite times of year because of all of the outdoor festivals, BBQs and dog-friendly events that Atlanta and Decatur have to offer.

A little awareness, preparation, and care go a long way in making sure your pets can enjoy it, too!

We’d love to hear from you! How do you and your pets keep cool while still enjoying summer in Atlanta and Decatur? Please share in the comments below!

The Dog Flu in Decatur and Atlanta: What You Need to Know about Canine Influenza

Well, it's happening. The "Dog Flu" has hit Atlanta and Decatur. 

You may recall that the dog flu has been big news in the last month, with the virus spreading quickly in the midwest, around Chicago.

Why has this dog flu become an epidemic? 
Your dog probably never contracted Canine Influenza before because he received a vaccine for it at his regular vet checkup. The thing about this particular strain of the dog flu, the H3N2 strain, is that it is immune to the common influenza vaccine. There is a vaccine available, but it is in very limited supply.

Even if your dog is vaccinated, he is still not protected from this strain of Canine Influenza

Since we are a dog walking and pet sitting service, this affects us and our clients directly. So after reading and hearing several reports from neighbors, I decided to call my personal vet, The Village Vets of Decatur, and ask some questions.

The following is some basic information you need to know about the dog flu, and how it pertains to your pet's daily routine, whether it's with your dog walker, your pet sitter, or your doggy daycare. You should consult your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about your pet.

It is extremely contagious

 Libby is wondering if she should worry about the dog flu.

Libby is wondering if she should worry about the dog flu.

Canine Influenza is airborne, which means it can travel long distances through the air. According to my vet, it can even travel through the ventilation system. 

So what does that mean?
It means that if your dog just breathes the same air as another dog who is infected with the virus, your dog can, and most likely will, get infected (more on that "most likely" part below). And that's true even if the two dogs are not in the same room, because it's traveling through the air conditioning vents, too. 

How likely is it that your dog will be infected?
Extremely likely. Actually, it's a small miracle if he doesn't get infected. 

I learned from my vet that the dog flu has a rate of incidence of 95%. That means that 95% of dogs that come in contact with the virus, actually get infected. So when they say, "highly contagious", they're not kidding. And you should heed that warning.

If you're thinking Canine Influenza can probably also be contracted through direct physical contact, or sharing food and water bowls, you'd be right. Canine Influenza can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours.

HOW TO AVOID THE DOG FLU

My vet highly discourages contact with other dogs for the next couple of weeks. Makes sense, right?

You should avoid:

  • Dog parks
  • Doggy daycare
  • Groomers
  • Boarding or kenneling
  • Avoid saying hello to other dogs on your walks

What you should look out for

Dogs who contract Canine Influenza often don't show symptoms for 2-4 days, and those first few days are when your dog is most contagious, and will infect almost every single dog he meets (remember, 95%!!!).

The most common symptoms are:

  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Lethargy, ranging from mild to severe
  • Loss of appetite
  • Discharge (mucous, runny nose, runny eyes)
  • Fever

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, especially if he has been in contact with other dogs recently, you should contact your vet right away. Canine Influenza is not known to infect humans.

What is Whoa Doggy! doing about it?

We are taking precautions to prevent transmitting the virus. On the recommendation of my vet, we are keeping safe distance with all pets. Sure, this temporarily limits cuddling, but it's an important measure we have to take. We are thoroughly washing our hands and disinfecting after each visit, too. And we are encouraging our clients to temporarily stop using daycare or boarding options for their pets until the outbreak subsides. We are also paying extra close attention to each dog we walk or pet sit to look for symptoms, and as always, we are communicating anything we notice to our clients right away.

For more information on Canine Influenza, visit this page on the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association website.

Edit 6/22/15: Here is an updated article on some local news regarding the subject on Decaturish.com, with Whoa Doggy! being mentioned.