Protect Your Pooch Against Mosquitoes

September is finally upon us and the kids are back to school but mosquito season is far from over. Not only are these pesty bugs an annoyance to us humans, but they also cause trouble for your pup. Regardless of how thick your dog’s fur is, they still get mosquito bites and they are often itchy and scratching like they have fleas.

Protecting yourself and your pets from mosquitoes is not always easy. Unlike those human-only households, those of us with pets have an extra consideration when it comes to choosing a yard spray. Using traditional chemical sprays and deterrents can wreak havoc on your dog’s system and inadvertently poison them, especially if you have a grass eater.

Choosing a nontoxic, natural mosquito repellent takes a little bit of planning but there are some really easy tips to keep these buzzing, biting bugs away in a natural, safe way.

Plants Mosquitoes Hate

One simple way to keep bugs away is to plant things they hate. Plant these strong scented plants throughout your garden and along the perimeter of your deck and yard.

Plants.jpg

 

  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Citronella
  • Marigolds
  • Lemongrass
  • Rosemary

Homemade Yard Sprays

Concocting your own DIY yard spray is the easiest way to make sure the spray is pet safe and nontoxic. Follow these simple, tested recipes for a mosquito-free yard.

Paul Harvey Spray:

  • 3 Bottles stale and cheap beer
  • 3 c. Epsom salts
  • 16 oz blue mint mouthwash (any kind)

Mix beer and mouthwash, add in salts and stir until dissolved. Transfer to spray bottle and spray.

Onion Spray

  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 1 Gallon water

Mix chopped onion and water, cover and let sit in warm place for 3-5 days. Transfer to spray bottle and spray.

Lemon & Lavender Spray

  • 1/4 c. Squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 20 Drops Lavender essential oils
  • Water to fill up the rest of spray bottle
  • Optional: 20 drops Citronella essential oils

Mix all together thoroughly, transfer to spray bottle and spray.

Yard Maintenance 

Deter mosquitoes by removing their homes. Keep grass cut short and remove any free-standing, stagnant water to eliminate breeding grounds.

With a few simple tools your yard can be both mosquito free and pet safe. If you try these sprays let us know how they work for you and feel free to share any other natural mosquito repellent ideas!

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Let’s Celebrate!

Nana’s blog has been on a bit of a hiatus as of late due to an uptick in business (never a bad thing).. But, no more radio silence we promise! Especially since we are back with some big news- it is our 10th birthday!

Nana’s was started way back in 2007 with the simple concept that Nana ( Linda Edwards) needed a little bit of extra joy in her life after losing her husband and her exact thought was “animals make me happy and bring me joy and I want to surround myself with the unconditional love given by our four-legged companions.” And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love walking into the house being greeted with tail wags and kisses? So Nana’s Pet Sitting was born.

Now ten years later, what started out as a simple way to add more joy into the life of

Nana and help the pet parents feel comfortable heading on vacation while leaving Fluffy behind, has blossomed into the premier pet sitting company in the Charlotte area.

For Nana’s tenth birthday we wanted to do something BIG. Something to show the Charlotte community how much we appreciate being a part of the pet scene and give back some of the joy the dogs and cats give us every day.

So, we are raising money for one of the most dedicated pet rescue groups around: Great Dane Friends of Ruff Love (GDFRL). Not only does GDFRL work their tail off hosting adoption events and a few pet shows throughout the year, they dedicate their lives to finding these gentle giants a forever home.

Unlike some pet rescues, each Dane is set up with a vetted foster family to train, rehabilitate and love these dogs. Great Danes often get overlooked due to heath issues and their size, but they need the same love and devotion smaller breeds get. Which is where we (and you) come in.

We are raising funds so they can keep these dogs in foster homes with the adequate space and training they need and you can join in on the fun too!

For our 10th birthday we are asking for $10 donations (but will of course take any size donation you wish to make) to help raise $10,000 during our Birthday month of July.

And, for a little extra birthday fun, all those who donate $10 or more are entered for a chance to win a gift basket courtesy of Nana’s Pet Store filled with 10 of our top items!

Ready to donate? Head to our gofundme page! Want a sneak peak at the gift basket? Keep scrolling…

Great Dane Friends of Ruff Love

Just a few of the Great Danes Nana’s 10 for 10 fundraiser will help.

Basket Includes:

  1. One 30 minute Pet Visit
  2. Admission into a PetTech Pet First Aid & CPR Class, taught by Linda Edwards
  3. Six foot Mountain Dog Leash, made from recycled climbing rope
  4. Peek-a-Prize cat toy
  5. Kong kitty/dog laser
  6. Durasqueak dog toy
  7. Portable water /food dish
  8. Dog Pyramid puzzle treat dispenser
  9. Breakaway cat collar
  10. Kozy Krinkle dog toy

Did we forget to mention that 10% of all purchases made at Nana’s Pet Store during the entire month of July will be donated? Now more than ever is the time to stock up on your pets favorite things.

Thank you all in advance for helping support this amazing rescue!

 

 

 

 

What is a Titer Check?

Taking responsibility for your pet’s health would, naturally, entail yearly vet checkups and routine vaccinations, like rabies, distemper, bordatella and parvo virus. But have you ever stopped to wonder just exactly why you’re vaccinating your pet every year? Do you yourself get a chicken pox vaccination every year? How about a hepatitis shot?

We do not get vaccinations every year because we don’t have to and it’s possible our pets don’t either. Veterinary medicine is finally catching up to human medicine and the way vets think about vaccinations is changing for the better.

Shortly after your pet turns 16  weeks old, they typically have completed all their vaccinations, at which point, titer checks can be run for subsequent years to determine a pet’s immunity to certain viruses without blindly pumping them full of toxic vaccinations.

Titer checks are used to determine the existing levels of antibodies to disease in the blood. By drawing 1 ml of blood vets can test for actual immunity levels in your pet. If the levels come back too low, or negative, they might need another vaccination, however once a positive or strong immunity level occurs, the titer check will likely indicate that your pet will not need another vaccination.

“An animal with a positive test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection. If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components,” according to Dr. Ron Schultz, a renowned pet vaccination expert, who was recently quoted in Dogs Naturally.

Administering yearly vaccinations to a pet who is already immune can result in disastrous and expensive health issues, as it would in humans if we were vaccinated yearly. Vaccinations should not be given blindly or based on age. The determining factor for giving your pet a vaccine or booster shot according to Dr. Patrick Mahaney, an experienced vet, should be their immune system, “if your pet is sufficiently immune, giving them a vaccine doesn’t make them more immune.”

Cost

The cost of a titer check varies between vets, cities and states. In Charlotte, NC titer checks range from $70-$90 and near the D.C. area they run about $110. The cost of vaccinations can often be less than the titer check, which is why some vets do not offer it to many clients.

The cost of a titer might be slightly higher, but the price your pet’s health will pay for yearly vaccinations could be high.

Rabies

A titer check can be used to check for the rabies vaccine, however, rabies is required by law and states do not accept a positive titer check in place of a current rabies certificate.

Consult with your vet about replacing your pup’s yearly vaccination schedule with an annual titer check instead. Reach out to several vets in your area to discuss the benefits of titer checks, prices and what is best for the overall health of your pet.

 

Pet Insurance- How to Choose

We hear a lot about insurance today. Health, dental, vision. We seek it out as part of job packages and have to shift through pages of policy information that can seem foreign to those new to the insurance marketplace. Finding the best and most affordable insurance for yourself or  your family is hard enough let alone ever having to think about insurance for Fido or dear old Kitty.

Yep, you read that right, pet insurance. It is a real thing. Plan options, wellness add-ons, dental coverage. All of it and more just for your pet. While it might be hard to fathom paying for another insurance plan, think about how expensive vet bills can be for even the most common ailments. Think about your dog or cat’s breed specific conditions and hereditary issues- most of which are covered by almost all pet insurance companies. Paying a little each month is better than getting saddled with a $4,000 vet bill when an emergency happens.

Just like people insurance there are many different factors to consider when trying to pick out a plan for your pooch. Age, breed and your state of residence will affect your monthly premium choices but aside from the cost you will need to decide what coverage is most important to you. Things like dental, holistic and alternative treatments, reimbursements for medications, supplements and prescription food coverage.

There are several big players in the pet insurance marketplace: Embrace, Trupanion, Nationwide (formerly VPI), Healthy Paws, Petplan, PetFirst and Pets Best. Take our pet insurance quiz to find out which is best for you and then view our full comparison guide. Please keep in mind this information is in no way an endorsement for any particular insurance company and before purchasing any plans, contact each company with specific policy questions.

ins quiz

Pet Fire Safety

National Pet Fire Safety Day is quite a mouthful to say but the idea is quite simple. July 15th is designed for pet parents as a reminder to do a quick safety check around the house, making sure it is “pet proof” and updating your family’s fire evacuation plan to include your pets.

Pet proofing is often done when bringing home a kitten or puppy for the first time, but after months and years go by some of these simple safety tips escape us. Here are a few fire safety tips about those innocent household items we often forget about.

  • Candles

Burning a candle on the coffee table or bathroom counter can add a nice cozy feel to the room; however curious cats that get free range of the furniture can cause some serious problems. Not only can they get up there and push off the burning candle, their fur can easily catch fire.

Candles also cause damage when placed on an unsteady surface. If your cat or dog were to bump into it, could they knock the candle over?

  • Gas Stovetops

Whether it is your cat crawling around the kitchen countertops or your all too naughty husky mix who thinks anything on the counter is his, they are in the position to twist the stove knob. Gas stoves are dangerous for two reasons: if pushed hard and turned correctly by your pet, a flame will emerge. Secondly and most dangerously, if the knob gets turned just enough, carbon monoxide will leak.

  • Lamps

Free standing and table lamps while a beautiful alternative light source than an overhead light, should never be left on when your pets are home alone. Lamps have the ability to tip over, from the swish of an excited pup’s tail or the nuzzle of a cat who likes to rub his head on every surface. When you turn a lamp on and head out the door you are leaving open the possibility for your pet to knock over the lamp, causing the hot bulb to break and potentially cause a fire.

  • Electrical Cords

Cords strung behind the TV can look like a great chew toy for your teething pup or kitten. Make sure all cords are hidden and tucked away. Frayed cords can overheat, create electrical shock and catch fire.

After checking your home and doing some pet-proofing, take a second to discuss with your family your fire evacuation plan. How and where you get out of the house is what will save your life, but once you’re out the last thing you want to do is go back in for the cat or dog. Make sure you have a plan in place for your pets too. The ASPCA has a few great resources in disaster preparedness and the National Fire Prevention Association has tips on fire evacuation plans including a checklist printout for pets.

Using window or door decals identifying the type and number of pets you have is also an excellent safety precaution to ensure your pets make it out safely in the event of a fire. Join Nana’s Pet First Aid & CPR this week in honoring Pet Fire Safety Day by completing a home check and updating your pet’s emergency plan.

 

 

New Canine Calming Drug

A new canine calming drug, Sileo, is about to hit the market and timing could not be better with Fourth of July celebrations about the begin. Fireworks displays are one of the biggest causes of pet stress, anxiety and lost pets. July 5th is often the busiest day of the year for animal shelters and rescue groups taking in lost pets.

Pet parents often flood into their vet’s office this week seeking out something, anything, that will help calm their dog during the fireworks. Fear and anxiety from noise often occurs more than just once a year. Thunderstorms are also a common cause for noise aversion and as many as 70 million dogs are affected by noise anxiety.

Signs of noise aversion can vary from mild to extreme and some pet parents do not even recognize their pets are affected. In a study done by the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol and reported by Animal Wellness, half the pet parents interviewed recognized at least one behavioral sign associated with noise anxiety and fear, even though only one quarter of those pet parents actually classified their dogs as being fearful of noise.scared archer

Common signs of noise related anxiety include: hiding, chewing, panting, pacing, defecating indoors, drooling, seeking company of pet parent, trembling, and the most extreme-escaping. Dogs with an extreme anxiety will do anything they can to escape from the noise, which might mean jumping through a window or over a fence, both of which I have witnessed through my pet sitting business.

Without having anti-anxiety medications specifically for pets, cats and dogs are often prescribed human medications by their vets. By using medications intended for their human counterparts, pets can often suffer side effects for a few days after the initial medication was administered.

This is where Sileo comes in. Sileo is the first FDA approved treatment for canine noise aversion. It is administered at home by the pet parent. The medication is a gel that is applied to the gums, using a syringe and starts working within 30-60 minutes but wears off in two-three hours, which is often how long a thunderstorm or fireworks display will last.

Sileo “calms without sedating” according to their website and works by inhibiting norepinephrine, a chemical in the brain associated with the fear response. By restricting the flow of this chemical in the brain it helps dismiss the underlying fear of noise.

The medication was tested on about 180 dogs during New Year’s Eve in New  York ranging in age between 2-17. Over 75% of owners rated the drug effects as good or excellent and side effects were rare or minor.

When looking through news articles and the Sileo website I was unable to obtain any information about what is in the medication and might add a word of caution to pet parents about putting more chemicals into their pets’ systems. However, depending on the severity of noise anxiety, the risk of medication might outweigh the risk of your pooch jumping out the window. If you are one of the pet parents with a scared and anxious dog over the 4th, you may consider talking to your vet about the risks of Sileo. I would be interested to know if anyone uses it and what your experience is.

 

 

 

 

 

Loose in the Neighborhood

I know I talk a lot about properly ID-ing pets and making sure the address and phone number are current on the tags and with the microchip company. In fact, I recently wrote a blog post about shelter pets and how many end up there because they are lost, stray and improperly ID’d. But one of my sitters this week encountered a loose dog and because the dog had tags on his collar that went directly to a working phone, she was able to return him safely…Bringing me to the story of Colt.

My sitter was caring for two sweet dogs in a beautiful neighborhood and they were out for their bedtime stroll. Often taking different walking routes, the sitter took them around a new cul-de-sac so the boys could get some new smells when a golden doodle, Colt, came running up to them. Luckily, Colt was friendly and not aggressive towards the smaller dogs the sitter was walking. It was also lucky that the two dogs in our care were social and no dog fight broke out. As a rule in my pet sitting business I do not allow sitters to let pets in our care socialize with anyone else’s pets. Never. I do not like risking the safety of the sitter or any pets. So when Colt decided he wanted to join them on their evening walk, this complicated the rule a bit.

The sitter, doing everything correctly, looked around for help, but nobody was around. Colt had come from somewhere but  where? The sitter was unsure and all she was concerned about was getting the two dogs back home safely, only then would she decide how to handle Colt. The sitter picked up the older, slower moving of the two dogs and quickened the pace. They were not far from the house but Colt was with them step for step, poor guy just really wanted to have a walk too! After putting the dogs safely in the house, the sitter turned to find Colt sitting right outside the open garage door, wagging his tail, tongue hanging out of his mouth.

The sitter grabbed an extra leash and walked over, letting Colt get a better sniff of her hand, she rubbed his ears, attached the leash and searched for his ID tags. Colt spent this time trying to  give kisses and become a lap dog. Eventually after Colt settled down, the sitter located a phone number.

She dialed, realizing the chances of someone answering their phone for a strange number was unlikely, but was quickly greeted by a distant woman’s voice. After identifying herself, the sitter explained the situation saying she believed to have found Colt. The lady was out of town, in-laws were staying at the house and Colt must have dug himself another hole under the fence. After a quick discussion of where in the neighborhood Cold lived, the sitter walked him back home. The in-laws answered the door with visible surprise to see Colt out of the backyard. After several very gracious thank-you’s were given, the sitter headed back to the two pups in her care with only a small twinge of sadness for having to leave such an adorable golden doodle!

There were several things that gave this incident a positive outcome but the most crucial being Colt’s ID tags, without which, Colt might have ended up at the vet  for a microchip scan, or at the Humane Society. The sitter was easily able to find and dial the phone number and was surprised when Colt’s mother answered. Often, calls get left unanswered when the phone number is unfamiliar. Luckily for us, Colt’s mom was not one of those people and answered right away.

ID tags only cost a couple dollars and can be bought at nearly any pet store. A few dollars is hardly a price to pay to ensure your pet is safe and can be returned easily if needed.

So now I will make another request: Stop what you are doing, which right now is reading my blog, and check your pet’s ID tags. Make sure the phone number and address are both current. If your pet is microchipped, call the company you have them registered with to make sure they have the correct phone number and address. You can also go online and create an online account with many microchip companies to enter a photo and your pet’s current description.

Taking a few moments to do this now will save you agonizing regret later, especially with all the danger the summer holds for pets. Upcoming 4th of July celebrations often frighten pets, who do anything, including jumping the fence, to try and get away from thunderous noises produced by local fireworks shows. Summer season also means hiking, boating and beach season, all activities that increase the risk of your dog getting loose. So please, check your pup’s information today so you do not have to worry tomorrow!

 

Snakes The Time

In honor of the Copperhead living in the bushes around my office, I figured snakes the time to talk about snakes -alright I know…all bad wordplay aside, snakes are a serious concern. Living in a region of the US that has several varieties of venomous snakes, I am always on the lookout for slithering neighbors around my house, office and often on the walking trail. But being a pet mother and pet safety instructor I am always watching. I can understand what a snake is but our pups are genuinely curious, learning by touching, sniffing, licking and do not always understand when they could be in danger.

The most lethal aspect about a venomous snake is not that they can inject you with poisonous venom, instead it is the fact they are often hidden. Hiding away in the yard clippings for the compost, seeking refuge in the wood pile, camping out in the cool shade of the bushes near the deck or wandering their way through the border grass and ivy so often used for landscaping. None of these places make their long moving bodies visible.

Worst part? These are places we reach, step, move and touch without looking. They are also places of great interest to the sniffing, licking, touching, curious pups we parent.

copperhead

Copperhead Snake

Majority of snakes try to retreat when they are encroached on, whether this encroachment happens by accident or not, the snake’s first reaction is often to get away. But there are some venomous snakes who get defensive, hold their ground and are more likely to strike.

Certain snakes, whether bumped on accident by your pooch’s paw or not, have a high probability of biting. In North Carolina, the Copperhead and Cottonmouth are quickest to strike and the Pygmy Rattlesnake normally attempts to slither away, but if further bothered, will quickly attack.

You can easily identify venomous snakes by these markers, according to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences:

  • A pit between the eye and nostril and the scales on the underside of the tail are not divided
  • No pit between the eye and nostril and most scales on underside of tail are divided
  • Tip of the tail has a “rattle” or “button”
  • Top of head with large symmetrical plates
  • Top of head with irregular, fragmented scales
water moccasin

Cottonmouth Snake

When you spot a venomous snake, you have time to assess and move away. But dogs walking in the border grass and accidentally waking a Copperhead, do not have the same time to move away. According to PetTech, the first international training center for pet first aid and CPR for cats and dogs, the majority of snake bites “occur on a dog’s head, neck, front legs and paws because they investigate their world with their nose, head and paws. Bites to the head and neck can become very serious because of the potential to interfere with breathing.”

What you do in the first few moments of a venomous snake bite can result in the life or death of your pup. What then can be done? Aside from the basics of prevention- making sure you never let your dog walk in tall grass, ivy, get into bushes, under the porch or into the woodpile, snakebites may still occur regardless of how careful you might be.

Once bitten symptoms will immediately start to occur.

Signs venom has been injected include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding around fang punctures.

Other signs include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomit
  • Weakness or nervousness
  • Convulsions

Take immediate action to restrain, muzzle and immobilize your dog, keeping the bitten limb level with the rest of the body if possible. The sooner you can get our pup still the slower venom will spread giving you a better chance to save your dog’s life. Treat for shock and begin transportation to a vet as soon as possible.

Call the vet on the way to let them know the situation so they can be ready and waiting for you when you arrive. Do not waste a second of time getting your pet in the car and to the vet. After a venomous snake bite, dogs need to be monitored for 24 hours to ensure no further complications or infections occur.

Shock management, restraining, muzzling and snakebites are all topics covered in the PetTech first aid programs. Summers are great for hikes, long walks, trips to the mountains and even just enjoying a stay-cation in your own backyard. But nowhere will you be completely snake free. It is important to remember that even after killing a venomous snake, the snake can still possess the nerve reflex to bite.

Taking a pet first aid class today will help prepare you for a snake bite situation in the future. You never want to be sitting there wishing you knew what to do. Be proactive in your safety and the safety of the four-legged children in your family.

Enrolling in a PetTech PetSaver class will give you all the tools you need to keep your pets happy, healthy and alive during these snake infested summer months.

To find our more information on how you can help improve the quality of your pet’s life visit Nana’s Pet First Aid & CPR.

Volunteering

Over the weekend a group of my pet sitters and I went to Animal Care & Control to volunteer for a few hours. For several years now I have wanted to get a group of sitters together for volunteering but time always seemed to slip by quickly and the year ends before I have a chance to catch my breath. This year, however, we managed to take moment and I am so glad we did.

1My team and I were deciding on where to volunteer, there are so many choices, among them The Charlotte Humane Society and Animal Care & Control and ultimately my sitters chose Animal Care & Control and I was thrilled. Animal Control often gets a bad wrap but after spending the day with their team, I can confidently say, they are one of the biggest pet advocates in the city.

Their intake levels have been down, which is excellent, and they have invested a lot of time into pet enrichment, education, vaccines and spay/neuter services for the community. I could not be prouder of the work they are doing for the animals in our county. We learned quite a bit about their animal intake process and discovered that they care for more than just cats and dogs. They take in bunnies, birds, horses and they even once cared for a monkey, who they found a home for in a sanctuary in California.7

Our morning of volunteering consisted of cleaning food bowls and kitty crates, filling Kongs and treat containers and, of course, playing with and loving on cats and dogs!

As our time was nearing an end, I knew the reality of our fun morning would be coming. We were about to pack up and ship out, leaving behind these adorable, loving pets. Pets who need a home. Pets who need a caring family and someone who will adore them the way they adore us. Someone to count on, to have fun with, to bond with.

Talking with one of the volunteer dog walkers, she said the hardest part of volunteering 4was leaving, “I would sit in my car and cry in the parking lot for ten minutes after I left. I just felt so bad, how could you not?” Eventually she was able to turn her sad frustration into a positive experience. She has made it her mission to bring as much joy to the dogs she walks during the time she has with them. And what more could you ask for in a volunteer?

It took a lot of self restraint not to leave with two kitties and a little chihuahua myself and one of my sitters nearly walked away with another husky. What made leaving easier for us was seeing the lobby full of people there to adopt. A few people even brought their current pets along in hopes of finding a four-legged child brother or sister. It was fantastic to see. 6

Adopting a dog can be scary at first, you never know where they have been or how they have been treated. But there is nothing more rewarding than being able to give a second life to these pets. I cannot vouch for every city’s Animal Control program, but the one we spent the day with has a dog trainer who works with the dogs that come in. The trainer assesses their personalities and works on basic training and socialization so these pups are ready for their new homes.

The sitters and I left Animal Care & Control Saturday morning with a new mission- sign up 5to become regular, long-term volunteers.  We want to continue to help give back to the community in the best way we know how, by loving on and caring for pets in whatever capacity we can.

I really encourage anyone looking to volunteer to look into your local Animal Control program, I think you might be surprised at how much they do in your community. I also strongly encourage anyone looking to add a pet into your home to consider adoption.
The majority of pets in shelters and rescues are lost and abandoned pets that are never reclaimed.

These pets touched my heart and encouraged me and my staff to get started on a monthly volunteer basis and help with education about shelter pets. I hope you will let these pets touch your heart too!