New Pet Owners

Questions you should ask a potential dog sitter

questionspotentialdogsitterdogdaycare

What is their experience?

This should be your #1 question. You want someone who will know when an emergency is dire or can be waited out until you get home. They should also know the signs of, and how to break up a dog fight. You don't want someone whose only experience with dogs is that they love them and had a family pet growing up. Bonus points if they are going to school for, or work/ed in veterinary medicine.

what times they are available to check on your pet?

The potential pet sitter should be willing to work with your pet’s regular routine and come at the specific times you request. Don’t be too strict and ask them to be there right at the 15 mark, but give them up to an hour before and after to get to your place. Also, check if they charge extra for early morning or late night visits. Don't forget a dog should be let out to go potty at least three times per day minimum, preferably four! 

are they insured?

A responsible company will be fully insured and have that information available to share with you. If they are an individual sitter working alone, at least get a copy of their driver’s license. I have had so many owners ask to make a copy of my ID and I am always more than happy to provide it for them!

are they comfortable with your dogs and their breed?

Always, always, always have the person come by and meet your pets first! Check that your animals like and feel comfortable around them. Bonus points if the sitter owns or has specific experience with your breed or mixes. I’ve been to many dog shows and have met and worked with (on some level) almost every single breed in the U.S. Owners really loved this and found comfort knowing that I wasn’t a stranger to their Afghan Hound/Coton de Tulear/Nova Duck Tolling Retriever and so on.

are they okay with your list of instructions?

If you have a sitter who negatively reacts to specific instructions you ask them to do - such as administering medications, run. They should be taking excellent care of your pet, that’s literally their one job.

Do they have good reviews or referrals?

If other people seem to have good things to say about the sitter, then they probably are trustworthy and can take good care of your dog. If the dog sitter or company has even one negative review… don’t be afraid to reach out and ask both the owner and sitter what happened in that scenario to get both sides of the story. Sometimes it could be something as trivial as the owner being upset the sitter charged a holiday fee. Just makes sure to ask and get as much info as possible!

I could go on and write a novel about what to look for in a good dog sitter, but here is a good place to start! Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and openly communicate any concerns or specific requests with your potential pet sitter before hiring them.

These foods must be kept away from your dog

toxicdogfoodsxylitolgrapeschocolateonions

 

It's always scary when your dog eats something they aren't supposed to, but the good new is most toxic foods have to be ingested relative to the dog's weight to be deadly. A handful of Hershey Kisses might not be as big of a concern to a giant Great Dane than to a little Pug. However, there are some foods where even the smallest amount can really harm or kill a dog so it's important to know these as an owner.

 

Xylitol 

This is the artificial sweetener found in products like gum, toothpaste, and soda. An amount as small as .1 grams can cause serious issues in a large dog. If you haven't already, quickly check that your dog does not have easy access to anything with xylitol in it, or any sugar alcohols for that matter.

 

Bones

Never, ever, ever, give your dog your leftover steak bone! Choking is always a concern with this. Cooked bones break and splinter differently than raw bones. They can internally scratch or pierce the digestive system as they make their way through the body. Some raw bones are okay, but they shouldn't be machine cut (since they can be sharp), or weight-bearing bones (since these are too hard and can break teeth).

 

Grapes and raisins

The general rule is that dogs usually have to eat a specific ratio relative to their weight when it comes to grapes and raisins. But, the toxic components in grapes is still somewhat unknown, so there have been reported cases of dogs dying from eating even a small handful of raisins. For this reason, grapes and raisins should be completely avoided since we don't know what triggers death in some dogs. 

 

Chocolate

The exact ingredient that causes toxicity to dogs in chocolate is theobromine. Baking and dark chocolate have the most concentrated amounts of theobromine so do not let your dog near these. Milk chocolate has less levels of the toxic ingredient so it's not as big of a concern as dark or baking chocolate. White chocolate has almost none, so it is somewhat safe for dogs to eat.

 

CaffeinE and Alcohol

I put these two in the same category because it's (hopefully) common sense not to let dogs ingest either of these substances. These are not even that great for humans, so they are definitely not good for dogs (again, common sense). Caffeine is bad for the central nervous system, and alcohol causes breathing and the heart rate to slow down. 

 

Onions and garlic

Always check foods like chicken broth since these are usually prescribed for ill or picky dogs. Many broths contain onion or garlic ingredients in some form. These are both toxic raw or cooked, so make sure you don't give any human food leftovers that contain onions or garlic.

 

If your dogs eats any of these foods, it's always a safe bet to call your veterinarian. Watch your dog very closely, if they have any changes in behavior or start to vomit or have diarrhea, take them in to a vet ASAP! 

Tips for cleaning in a home with dogs, what cleaners to use and where

cleaningdoghome

Cleaning your home exposes pets to many types of chemicals that can be harmful to them. I have some tips to help keep them safe while keeping your home clean!

 

how to use 

I suggest using cleaners with harsh or toxic chemicals like bleach on countertops, bathtubs and other surfaces your pets do not directly touch. The reason I do this is because I do believe food surfaces need to be properly sanitized and since dogs don't (usually) have access to surfaces like countertops, sinks, or bathtubs, they are mostly fine to clean with stronger cleaning products.

For places dogs do have access to, such as toilets and floors, use natural cleaners that are fine if ingested. This way, if they lick something off the tile or take a drink from your toilet they don't accidentally ingest something toxic that can harm them. 

*Toilet bowl cleaners must be nontoxic, too many dogs die from drinking out of toilet bowls that use cleaners with ingredients like bleach.

 

Best Nontoxic Products to use

Here are some of the biggest brands that are pet-friendly. Many you can find in large box stores like Target or Walmart. And always remember to store cleaners where they can't be reached by curious noses!

*These are not affiliate advertisements, click the link to go directly to their website*

  1. Method Products - what I use!
  2. The Honest Company
  3. Seventh Generation
  4. Nature's Miracle
  5. Greenworks
  6. Simple Green

What is dog bloat, and how to prevent it from happening

dogbloatpreventcausesbelly

Let me just tell you that bloat is my biggest fear as a dog owner.

Bloat might not seem like a big deal to humans, but it can be deadly to large or deep-chested dogs. An emergency vet explained me that a dog's stomach hangs like a hammock, and when a large amount of gas is sitting in the abdomen it can cause the entire stomach to twist. When this happens, the blood and oxygen supply is cut off and dogs can die within minutes. Unfortunately, many people don't take their dogs to the vet until the stomach has already flipped and it's too late. I wrote about some tips and signs to look for since I went through this scare with Boomer a few months ago.

 

Causes

No one really knows the exact causes, but we have somewhat of an idea on what triggers it. We know it mainly happens in large dogs, especially those with deep chests like Great Danes. We also know it can happen if your dog drinks too much water too quickly. It can also happen if you feed your dog foods with ingredients like citric acid and add water. Intense exercise too soon before or after a meal may also cause it. I avoid all of these scenarios to prevent it, just in case. 

 

How to prevent it

Sadly, you can never truly prevent bloat, I learned that from my experience with Boomer. But, you should monitor your dog's water intake as much as possible. Read your dog food ingredient list and make sure there are no citric acids if you normally like to add water to the food. This causes strong acids in the stomach that create gas. Most importantly, never feed your dog 1 or 2 hours before or after exercising them. 

 

Signs

In the very beginning stages, your dog's stomach may make loud gurgling noises, like a human's stomach when you're hungry. I could hear Boomer's stomach from across the room. At this point, give your pup some Gas X pills (3 - 4 pills should work, they can't overdose on these), and take them on a long, but slow, walk to encourage the gas to travel out of the stomach. Do this about every half hour for several hours. We had to do this once for Boomer after he got x-rays and his stomach (luckily) did not flip, every time he burped or farted I was so relieved lol!

*If your dog starts retching, or looking like he's trying to vomit but nothing comes out, IMMEDIATELY take him to the vet - preferably a hospital so they can do surgery, if necessary. Also take them if they look uncomfortable or are pacing. At this point the vet will want to take x-rays to see if the stomach has flipped and if surgery is needed. 

Once the stomach flips, it swells like a balloon because of the trapped gasses. These photos aren't pretty, but I want to make sure you have a visual of what the symptoms look like. I kept thinking Boomer's stomach look bloated, but the vet said it did not and that it would look like he swallowed a watermelon if it was. If you haven't taken your dog to the vet by this point, you must go when their stomach is visibly enlarged like this! 

Bloated belly:

dogbloatsigns
dogbloatsymptoms

Why you shouldn't pick a breed just for looks

dalmatian unique spots
Left: Dalmatian, Right: Siberian Husky

Left: Dalmatian, Right: Siberian Husky

How gorgeous are Siberian Huskies with those big blue eyes? Or how unique are Dalmatians with all of their spots?

I know it's tempting to get a beautiful dog like a Husky or Dal for their looks, but so many people forget to consider breed temperament and needs when choosing a pet. 

A Husky and Dalmatian might look really cool when you're walking down the street, but are you able to physically and mentally exercise them to their specific needs every day? If not - be prepared for excessive barking, destructive chewing, stubbornness, and other naughty behaviors you won't want to deal with.

These are just two popular examples of breeds that owners usually pick for their looks, but there are so many other breeds (and rescue mixes!) out there than can still provide you with a loyal friend, even if they don't have spotted coats or blue eyes!

 

Be Realistic

Unless you are willing to mold yourself into the owner that a specific breed needs, let go of the aesthetic you like and admire them from afar instead. You must be honest with yourself and where you are at now as a dog owner - don't say you will start running once you get a specific breed, if you don't even run now and are somewhat of a couch potato. Instead, look for a dog who can be a couch potato with you - then you don't have to force yourself to exercise! And if you all of a sudden become an avid runner and you two happen to become fit together, even better!

 

Do research

Picking a breed takes a lot of research, but here are some fun places to start! These quizzes can give you a good starting point for which breeds to do even more research on past your results on these quizzes, and remember to be honest with where you are at now as an owner - rather than where you want to be. 

I took a handful of quizzes and these two seemed the most accurate and realistic regarding the questions asked and results!

Life factors you need to consider when picking out a dog

factorsquestionsowninggettingdog

It's always fun to get to pick out a puppy from a litter or bring home a rescue from the shelter, but new owners need to make sure they know what they are getting into. When an animal is in your care, they completely depend on you to provide for their every single need. It might seem like a fun idea to bring home a new pet, but there are some major questions you should ask yourself before doing so.

 

1. Do you work full-time?

Some breeds have the label "velcro dog", this means they love to be attached to your hip and want to know your every move. Dogs that love attention and companionship don't do well sitting at home alone for long periods of time. Breeds like Golden or Labrador Retrievers are a great example of velcro dogs. 

 

2. How much do you exercise?

Get a dog that matches your current fitness level, don't exaggerate or think about where you want to be in the future, that wouldn't be fair to do. Some dogs have exercising needs that are more than you can handle and it would be unfair to not provide them with that very important need. Always keep in mind, a tired dog is a happy and well-behaved dog. 

 

3. Do you have kids?

Some breeds don't care if you climb all over them like a jungle gym. While other breeds are very aloof and are not fans of being pulled or tugged at. The current age of your kids is important to consider when getting a dog. If you have a toddler running around, a breed like a Chow might not like their spaced invaded. Or if you have a teen who is on the cross country team, an active breed like a Siberian Husky might be a great running partner for them. 

 

4. What's your living space like?

Do you live in an apartment, house, or townhouse? The bigger the dog the more room they take up. Do you have a yard? Is it fenced? Some breeds, like Terriers, are notorious for digging and escaping yards. Is your home full of nice furniture and expensive art? In that case, a high-energy breed like a Pitbull might not be for you, maybe go for a smaller breed like a Pomeranian instead.

 

5. How much money do you want to spend?

Again, the bigger the dog the more space and costs. A dog bed for a Chihuahua vs. a Doberman will be incredibly cheaper. The same idea goes for their food, vet costs, toys, etc. 

 

6. DO you already own another dog?

You'll want to add a dog that gets along well with your current dog. But even more importantly, you'll want them to have similar needs. It's much easier when all of your pets have the similar exercise requirements. 

 

7. Will you provide mental stimulation?

All dogs absolutely need this! However, smart dogs like Border Collies and Poodles need it even more. A bored dog can cause more chaos and destruction than you can ever imagine. You can provide your dog with different types of puzzle toys and work on some short training sessions to keep them focused and out of trouble.

How to dog-proof your home before your new bff comes

And by BFF I mean your new dog, obviously.

You want to make sure you bring them home to a safe environment where they won't get into trouble and create bad habits. Dog-proofing will help set your pet up for success and allow them to safely explore and settle into their new home.

How to make an anxious dog feel more comfortable (6).jpg

1. Put any breakables above head level

Move any breakables, such as glass pieces, above your dogs' head level when they are sitting. Anything made of fabric or a soft material they might be tempted to chew should be above head level when they are standing so they can't take from places like countertops.

 

2. Keep all food locked away

Put all human and animal food in locked containers or in closets/cabinets they can't easily get into. If you have medium/large dogs, don't leave anything on the counters either. You can buy all sorts of great containers for dog food that not only keep your pet out, but also keep the food fresh.

Here are a couple options from Amazon (these are not ads!): 

3. Put away prescription and Over The Counter medications

Even if they are meds meant for dogs! Put these not only above head level but also in something that properly closes or locks. We keep all medications in a small plastic drawer on a top shelf inside of a closet, the dogs couldn't reach it even if they tried!

 

4. cleaners should also be kept behind closed doors

Most household cleaning products are toxic and can easily kill a dog within a couple hours of enough consumption. Dogs don't know any better, so keep them safe by not leaving products open or left out for them to get into. For example, all of our cleaning products at home hang from a shoe holder on the door of our laundry room. 

 

5. Keep spaces open

Don't put furniture pieces in tight or narrow areas where a playful or excited dog could accidentally knock it over or get hurt. In general, try to keep your home free of clutter so your dog is less tempted to chew whatever they find on the floor. 

 

6. Check your plants

Whether you have an indoor or outdoor garden, keep everything out of reach! Keep indoor plants above head level and build a barrier or fence for your outdoor garden. Research if you have any toxic species that your pet might eat. Some common plants that are toxic to dogs include; several species of Peonies, Daisies, Aloe, and Palm Trees. Here is a complete list of toxic and nontoxic plants - click here.