Our Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Process

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.

Our New Website and an Important Update

Hey y'all!

We've got some fun news - Our new website is live! It's been a long time coming, and we've been working really hard at it for some time now, so we are really excited about it. Our favorite part about it, by far, is the "Meet The Team" page, which features photos and bios about each pet sitter and dog walker on the Whoa Doggy! Team. So if you haven't ran into your favorite Whoa Doggy! dog walker or pet sitter before, and you want to put a face to the name, please check it out!

Our friend, Blue thinks this news is all really fantastic!

Our friend, Blue thinks this news is all really fantastic!

We also have an important update, which involves a really nice upgrade to your experience with Whoa Doggy! We have been using pet sitting software for the last three years, which allows you to update your pet profiles with current information, and schedule all of your pet sitting and dog walking appointments online. It's been a really successful and beneficial feature of our service for our clients and for our Team!

The time has come for us to upgrade that software, and we are in the process of implementing those changes right now! The new pet sitting software will provide a really nice, upgraded user experience for our clients. You'll enjoy a more streamlined, user friendly website, with a very intuitive and modern look and feel. It's truly an upgrade all around, and we are very happy that we can bring the new platform to you!

We want to make the transition as easy as possible for all of our clients, so we are taking care of migrating client and pet profiles to our new system for you. When it's ready to go (we'll announce a date very soon), you'll be sent an activation link. All you'll have to do is create a new password for your account, and re-enter your payment information (we can't do that part for you since that information is totally secure, and we don't have access to it).

We hope you enjoy the new website and the upcoming software upgrade! Please be on the lookout for an update in the next couple of weeks, and please share your comments below!


Wags & Hugs,

Garey 
Owner & Professional Pet Sitter/Belly Rubber

Our First Two-Star Review And Why You Should Care

Well, it happened. We received our very first negative review. Two stars in fact. Ouch!

The Good:  The meet & greet went well and dog walking visits were off to a great start. On our end, Andrea really enjoyed spending time with the dog and always gave a fun report about their time together.

The Not-So-Good:  Our reviewer was not comfortable with our key policy and preferred instead, to rely on a key lockbox to be left on his property which was also accessible by 3 other in-home services.


That’s the gist of the review, and once we got past the initial sting of it, we’ve recognized it as an important opportunity for us to talk more about our key policy and what it means to our clients, and their precious furry families.

We require two working sets of keys. They do not have to be given to us during the meet & greet, but we do need them prior to beginning our service. We adhere to this policy at all times, with every client.

We will not leave keys hidden on clients’ property, in a plant pot, under a mat, or in a lockbox, and we do not share keys with other parties...including other in-home services. We don’t attract attention by searching for and re hiding a key, or entering a code in a hidden or visible lockbox. 

In short, our key policy is in place so that we can guarantee a professional, reliable, and consistent service to all of our clients. We treat our clients’ keys ethically, and professionally and have well thought out, detailed policies and procedures in place to protect clients’ anonymity, privacy, and security, and to be able to maintain a pet visit schedule that is uncompromised. Even in a pinch. Even in an emergency.

Exactly one month ago, I received a call from a frantic nanny who worked for one of our regular clients. Actually, frantic is an understatement. She had the old “hide-a-key” arrangement with our client, and never actually had her own key. Apparently, she also did not have a back up plan in place for an emergency...or an accident...because those never happen. Long story short, what I was able to hear between her hyperventilating and panic, is that she was locked out of the house and the baby was locked inside the house. No key, no backup plan. Our clients, who were already beginning their workday alllllll the way in Alpharetta, asked her to call me...their pet sitter.

Because we have a key policy that can be counted on.

Without skipping a beat, I was able to let the nanny into the house within minutes...thankfully, the baby was still napping peacefully. I was even able to lend her my key for the rest of the day, because (per our key policy) I had a backup key securely locked in a key safe back at my office. Whew. I guess you could say, our key policy saved the day.


I was able to breathe easy that day because I remained 100% accountable for every aspect of my job. Had we made an exception to our key policy and shared the hide-a-key with the nanny (and anyone else who had access to it), I would have spent the afternoon hyperventilating alongside her, simply because she did not put the key back in its place. Instead, we were able to complete our scheduled dog walk for that client that afternoon, as scheduled, and were able to focus on quality time with their (amazingly adorable) pup, Jazmine. Easy peasy.

No, we do not adhere to our key policy so we can let nannies who’ve locked themselves out back in...but thank goodness we can. We adhere to our key policy because we made a commitment to you and your pets that we will always be there for you when you need us, and our key policy allows us to honor that commitment. Even when your housekeeper mistakenly took your key home...to Roswell...yes that’s a thing, and it happens. 

Why 2 keys? Simply put, an emergency for your dog walker does not constitute an emergency for your pet. Similarly, if there is an emergency with another pet that requires immediate attention, and therefore interrupts the original pet sitting schedule, our backup plan is triggered, another trained member of our team steps in (with your backup key), and your pet gets the attention they deserve...as scheduled. 


We love what we do, and we take it very seriously. We aren’t accessing your home to perform a job that can be done later or tomorrow. We are showing up to care for your pet, your baby, your furry family. You don’t take chances on that, and neither do we. You can count on it. And there’s nothing bizarre about that.

You can read this and all other reviews in their entirety by visiting our page on Yelp.

If you feel inspired to write a review about a positive experience you've had with Whoa Doggy!, we'd be honored. Thank you again for allowing us to have the best job in the world. 

xoxo
Wags & Hugs,
Whoa Doggy!