Pet ID Tags

Why do so many pets end up in shelters? Whether it is the local Humane Society, Animal Control or in one of the many local animal rescue organizations?

Just under 80 million households in the United States own a pet and around 30 million of those households own more than one pet- that’s a lot of four legged family members!

However, between 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year. That’s a lot of four legged family members that go missing. And despite the common misconception, animal shelters are comprised of more strays and missing pets than pets turned in by the owners. Strays enter shelters at a rate two times higher than those consciously turned over and on average at least 50% of shelter populations are cats.

How are so many lost pets, ending up in shelters each year and what can be done about it? Well, as I found out, the answer is really quite simple- ID tags. Nearly all pets that enter shelters as strays do so because they do not have proper identification. This really makes sense when you look at the amount of cats in shelters.

I see this happen often: cat parents who keep their cats indoors at all times do not feel a need for collars with tags. And trust me, I get it, I do not want to listen to that incessant jingling and ringing of tags all day and especially all night. But it only takes one second for your cat to get curious or spooked and slip out the door while you’re unloading groceries or bringing in that heavy package.

Don’t worry cat parents, you are not alone, dog parents go through this same line of reasoning too. I know because I am one of them. Not all of my kitties have collars on and while my dog’s collar has ID tags, I never leave it on my dog when inside.

Getting your pet microchipped is important for those, like me, who do not always leave a collar on their pet. But making sure to keep the microchip updated is just as important as getting it done in the first place. There is a lot to keep track of when moving and updating your pet’s microchip address is not always on the top of your list. Getting a new phone and having to alert your contacts with your new number- do not forget your pet’s microchip company! If your pet ever gets loose and found by a good samaritan, you do not want to miss that call because your pet’s microchip lead to a dead phone number. The good news is that the majority of microchip companies have a 24 hour hotline to call for updating information.

So take a quick moment right now to make sure your pet’s information is current!

Pet First Aid Awareness Month


It’s April and that means Pet First Aid Awareness Month is in full swing! I love April, not just for the beautiful flowers, blooming trees, pollen everywhere (just kidding on the last part, I could go without that layer of green dust everywhere), but most of all I love April because it is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month.

There is so much that goes into pet first aid, CPR and care, I have an entire business devoted to it! You might be asking why, exactly, this month is so important…well let’s find out!

For information on classes visit: or

For free first aid and wellness printables click here.


Poison Prevention Week

Happy National Poison Prevention Week! I know, I know, this is not the most exciting or happy week to celebrate but it might be one of the most important. As reading, understanding, comprehending humans we know what is good and bad for our bodies. We know what is toxic, what will cause damage and make us sick. Our pets, however, rely on our judgement as pet parents to look after what they eat. From food to water to toys, our pets need us to help keep them safe from their inquisitive nature and desire to put everything in their mouths. You know, that pile of junk in the garage that’s oozing some unknown substance (don’t deny it, we all have one) or that tangle of cords behind the TV that is still in reach of the kitty.

Some of these things are common sense like giving chocolate or grapes to your pet but what about the pile in the garage? How often do you think about your pet getting into things around the house? How about the things we willingly give our pets that we might assume are good for them, like peanut butter? In honor of National Poison Prevention Week here is short list of common household items or foods that are severely poisonous to our pets.

  1. Lilies, Tulips and Daffodils

Lilies, especially Easter, Day, Tiger, Asiatic, Japanese and Show Lilies are all extremely toxic to pets. Consuming even two or three petals can result in kidney failure. Ingestion of any kind can be fatal to your feline. Even walking through fallen pollen and licking paws later is fatally dangerous.

Tulips are major cause for concern for those of you who have pooches who love to dig. Tulip bulbs have a high concentration of toxicity to dogs and can cause tissue irritation, vomiting, excessive drooling or diarrhea.

Daffodils contain toxins in nearly all parts of the plant. The bulb, flower or plant can cause extreme abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmia and even respiratory depression. Ingestion of the crystals on the outer layer of the bulb can trigger further reactions in your pet.

If you even suspect your pet has ingested part of these plants, head immediately to the vet or call the Pet Poison Helpline. Check out a complete list of toxic plants here.

2.  Xylitol

This natural sugar sweetener is found in nearly every type of gum, candy, mint, yogurt, ice cream and even some peanut butter. Xylitol has been known to cause hypoglycemia and severe liver damage in dogs. What exactly does that mean? VCA Animal Hospital helped Sweets-Candy-wonderfulus out with an easy explanation, “Xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin results in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that occurs within ten -60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can be life threatening.” As little as five grams (.17 ounces!) can be life threatening. Check out this complete list of foods containing xylitol and be sure to read ingredient labels or consult this list before giving your pet people food!

  1. Over the Counter Medications

Advil, Aleve, Motrin and Tylenol are four of the most common medications pets can get their paws on. As little as one or two pills can cause intestinal and stomach ulcers and kidney failure. Tylenol is the most toxic according to the Pet Poison Helpline. tylenol “One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen (Tylenol) may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in larger doses, red blood cell damage.” Toxicity affects from these medications often lasts five to six times longer in cats than dogs because cats do not have the proper proteins in their stomach to breakdown aspirin. Symptoms of poisoning may appear within ten – 30 minutes or be as delayed at 12-24 hours. Symptoms include: vomiting (potentially vomiting blood), diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain and pale gums.

If you suspect your pet may have gotten into your medicine cabinet, call the vet or Pet Poison Helpline immediately even if they do not show symptoms right away.

  1. Pesticides and Herbicides

It is spring time and that means getting those winter lawns looking green again. Killing off unwanted weeds, spraying off bees, mosquitoes and other unwanted pests is common this time of year.  However, your beautiful, bug free lawn might come at a pesticidesprice for your pets. Whether you or a lawn service are caring for your yard, read labels to find out what is and is not appropriate for pets. Dogs and outdoor cats have a tendency to eat grass and dig dirt. When grass has been chemically treated your pet is ingesting those same chemicals. Dog toys that get left in the yard during treatment get coated in toxins too. Dogs and cats often groom themselves and after a romp in the yard, chemicals and toxins stick to their paws and fur, which when grooming, get ingested and can cause damage. If you insist on getting your yard sprayed check out Pesticide Action Network’s Pesticide Database for toxicity and regulatory information.

Short, simple list right? It is hard to remember how each small thing can impact your pet’s well-being. Sending flowers for a birthday, anniversary or holiday never seemed so complicated before, but it is crucial to look up each plant before sending or receiving flowers into your home to make sure they are not toxic to your pet.

What happens if your dog hops onto the kitchen counter to swipe down that jar of Go Nuts peanut butter because it’s just ‘oh so tempting’?

Signs of poisoning can occur immediately or one day later depending on the amount consumed and which type of poison it is. Good indications that your pet has been poisoned are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive salvation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Stumbling as if drunk
  • Pale gums

If you notice any of these symptoms or even suspect your pet is poisoned call your vet IMMEDIATELY! They may instruct you to induce vomiting before bringing your pet in. If possible gather vomit or stool sample for your vet, this may help them determine the cause of poison. For this reason, it is critical to keep an unopened, up-to-date bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house, as this is often used to induce vomiting in poison emergencies. Only administer hydrogen peroxide at the instruction of your vet!

If you cannot reach your vet call the Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661 for instructions. There is a $49 fee per phone call but this is nothing compared to saving your pet’s life.

Running with Archer

By Guest Blogger Britany Ochalek

While the first day of spring is not technically until March 20th for many of us the weather has already warmed, the sun is hanging in there a little longer and the time to dust off our running shoes has come. Spring has the perfect outdoor weather. It is cool enough yet that the worries of overheating are not quite there and the sun’s rays aren’t relentless in the afternoons and late evenings.

But as we prepare ourselves for running, hiking, long walks and extended park visits, we must also prepare our pups too. I recently started running with my dog, Archer a husky mix, and he could not be happier, but it took me a while to work my way up to running. Running has always been a solitary activity- just me, my music and the pavement ahead. My pace, my direction, no interruptions. My biggest concern was how to keep running in my control. I was afraid Archer would try to stop and sniff or chase a squirrel in the other direction. Would he understand pace? Would he take off sprinting, dragging me behind or pulling my arm out of my socket because he thinks it’s time to play “crazy dog?”

IMG_6358-1I have never had any doubts that he could run a decent distance, he is part husky after all- it’s in his blood. But just like a human, I knew he would need a slow transition into running, an activity that is normally only acceptable at the dog park. So, we started exploring all the local walking trails throughout the city. I had two goals during our long walks: get him used to the idea that these walks were all business, we were not to dilly-dally around with sniffing and peeing on every tree trunk and get him used to prolonged, fast paced walking.

For the last several weeks the two of us spent our early weekend mornings walking, our last walk clocked in just under two hours. We were whipping our lazy winter butts into shape! I knew that our time had come, however, to attempt a run.

I picked an obscurely slow time in terms of traffic, both car and pedestrian, to limit distractions. I rigged up Archer’s leash into a makeshift runner’s belt making me hands free. This also allowed my entire body force behind Archer so, if by chance he took off sprinting, I would be able to use my body weight, not just the end of my arm, to slow him. I choose to run him in the same neighborhood loop we frequently walk so most of the smells would be familiar in hopes this would reduce his stopping.

With these precautions, I was ready to head out. I let him pee before we got started (he had already done his other business a little earlier so I knew that would not be an issue) and we started our one mile run.

At first he was beyond excited we were running and was trying to gallop around in circles at the end of the leash. This amplified when we turned out of my apartment complex. But after a stern “nicely” and a “let’s go” he stopped and kept a nice trotting pace next to me.

I was proud of my boy for running so well! I truly expected a worst case scenario but I should have given Archer a bit more credit. He only strayed a few times to sniff but I told him “let’s go” and never stopped, he caught on and was a perfect running mate.

We have since worked our way up to three miles. I still run him early in the morning before traffic and before people. I will eventually feel comfortable running him on the walking trails and at other times of the day, but we still need a little more practice.

I want to attribute most of my running success on the proper preparation. Just as I would not start running three miles out of nowhere, I knew Archer shouldn’t either. Especially for dogs not used to running or performing a lot of sustained activity, allow your dog to make the transition with you, from walking to running, from one mile to two, eventually even four or five. My long walks also helped Archer recognize the times when walking was not about sniffing and meandering, which really assisted his transition into running and understanding why we were not stopping to sniff and pee.

Guest Blogger: Britany Ochalek has been working for Nana’s Pet Sitting and Nana’s Pet First Aid & CPR for over two years. Through Nana’s she met Archer, at the time a two year old husky mix, and adopted him in April 2015.

Pet Temps & Thermometers

As a pet parent and human parent I have come to notice that caring for both types of children have a lot in common. Especially when it comes to getting sick. When a child laments about not feeling well often the first thing a parent will do is place a hand on the forehead to feel for a temperature. If the child feels warm, we take that as an indication of true sickness.

Sick Ill Dog

Picture courtesy of by Esther Johnson.

But what about your pets? Have you ever taken your dog’s temperature when you notice they are a bit sluggish or not eating like they normally do? I will take a guess here and say no. You might not even know how to take the temp of your dog (one hint: you use a thermometer- but it’s not going in their mouth).

A dog’s temperature is supposed to hover between 100°-102.5°, anything else and the dog should be headed immediately to the vet. Especially if the temp is higher than 102.5°. Once it rises, the dog will start to overheat, become dehydrated and, of course, a high temp means there is something more serious going on inside your dog.

For the cat pet parents out there, the safe temp range is also 100°-102.5° and newborn puppies and kitties temp is 96°.

But how will you know when your dog has a high or low temp? By following these simple steps:

  1. Turn on your digital thermometer. Never use a glass thermometer; it may break off inside your dog posing a serious health risk.
  2. Apply a non-petroleum based lubricant to the thermometer for easy, pain-free insertion.
  3. Hold your pet securely or get help from another person if possible. Hold up the tail and gently insert the thermometer into the anus about 1/4 inch, a very short distance in, and keep in place until it beeps, which indicates it has measured the current body temperature.
  4. Remove and record temperature.
  5. Clean thermometer and store safely, marking it for pet use only.

It is important to keep a running log of your pet’s temperature and check as often as hourly when sick. Any slight variant in temp when sick should be an immediate trip to the vet. With pets it is often hard to tell exactly when something might be wrong and since they cannot speak up, we must have protocols in place to eliminate hesitations on taking them to the vet. If you get an inkling that something is not quite right with your pet, take the temp immediately and take them to the vet. Simple and easy as that, no hesitations needed.


Pet Dental Month


So, February is National Pet Dental Month and what better way to promote dental health than to give a few tips on how to brush your dog’s teeth. Dogs at any age can be acclimated to teeth brushing, it just takes a little patience and consistency.

Just like humans, pets can acquire some serious dental damage from not brushing. By the age of three most dogs have evidence of periodontal disease according to the American Veterinary Dental Collage. Periodontal disease starts as plaque buildup, which secretes under the gum line leading to tooth loss. Gingivitis is also included under periodontal disease. Dental disease is one of the most common preventable diseases! Pets with teeth and gum issues often have sensitivities and pain that can reduce eating and cause a personality change in your otherwise happy pooch. All it takes is a little brushing!
brusing your dogs teeth


Cat Food and My Self-Led Crusade

What started as a simple idea- find a few differences between wet and dry food for cats- has now officially escalated into a self-led crusade to rid the world of dry cat food. Or, more realistically, start a conversation about what we are feeding our cats. Now before I surge onward I want to profess that my kitties, yes all four of them, have been eating premium dry food for years and all are healthy. I might add that my six water stations, including a water fountain, contribute greatly to this. But much of what I learned helped me to round out my knowledge of their dietary needs, understand which part of their diet is lacking and gave me the knowledge to make better, informed choices on what my kitties should be eating.17603-a-cat-licking-his-mouth-pv

Cats, I have learned, are obligate carnivores meaning they need muscle based meats in their diet. Specifically, cats require the essential amino acid taurine, exclusively found in animal protein and critical for normal heart function, vision, digestion and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Aside from needing taurine, our kitties rely on food for one other vital component –water. Wild cats get nearly their entire required water intake from prey. This means 70%-80% of prey is water. This means cats that receive 70% of their water from food do not drink much water on their own. This also means that cats eating a diet less than 60% water can become dehydrated if they are not drinking enough additional water.

I will divert off my food expedition and stop for a moment at the waterfront. Cats, unlike dogs, take longer and are much slower to initiate water drinking when dehydrated. Kitties often do not consume enough water when dehydrated to fully restore themselves to a hydrated state. A quick comparison at the watering hole: dogs will replenish six percent of body weight in one hour whereas cats take 24 hours.

Now, as my steady procession propels me forward, let’s peer a little further into water content. Wet food is typically around 78% water. On average most dry foods contain a whomping ten percent. This low water content has one upside- it is cheaper to buy. However, cats on a strictly dry diet are only consuming half the amount of water needed to stay hydrated. Continue reading

Four-Legged Resolutions for 2016

Well, it is officially a new year and that means new resolutions but I’m not talking about your new year’s resolutions. I’m talking about your pet’s new year resolutions. Some of you probably never thought about making a resolution for your tail wagging family member but now is a great time to get into a few new routines with your pets.
Below are a few simple, easy and quick wellness habits to start performing with your pets. These pet goals are a great way to get a little extra bonding time in, keep up with and prevent some major health issues.
Pet Body Assessment. This one is easy and something you are already doing without realizing it. The Pet Body Assessment (PBA) is when you check the entire body of your pet for any lumps, buPBAmps, bruises, cuts, sores, smells and anything else that seems out of the ordinary. 
How to do it: Take about ten or fifteen minutes to sit down with your pet and start with their head working down to their tail. Focus on “painting their body” with your hands. You want to touch every part of their eyes, ears, nose, legs, even between their paw pads. If anything is sore, oozing, causing pain or fowl smelling, call up your vet for an appointment. By doing this daily or weekly you will be able to catch anything abnormal and get it checked out right away. You may consider doing an extra PBA after a trip to doggie day care or the dog park as an extra precaution.
Coat Health. Routine brushing for both cat and dogs are beneficial for several reasons. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that it prevents fur from getting knotted, dirty and matted, which can cause pain for our long-haired furry friends. When matting occurs and is not brushed out immediately mattes get twisted, grow larger and pull painfully on the skin. Brushing also helps with blood flow and circulation. Creating time to brush your pet gives you a second time, aside from the PBA, that you are running your hands over your pet allowing another opportunity to spot any problems.
Nail Health. Along with regular brushing, getting your pet’s nails trimmed regularly is important. Just like their human owners, pets do not like having long nails, which are susceptible to chip, break Nailsand splinter. Pet nails will curl the longer they get causing infections if left unattended. Lastly long nails create the most damage in the long term by changing where a pet places pressure when walking. This pressure change can lead to a realignment of the foot bones over time to cause arthritis and joint pain.
Dental Care. Keeping your pet’s mouth as clean as yours should be a top priority for you this year. Just like you, your pet’s mouth can build up plaque that can cause fractured teeth and periodontal disease. If left unattended bad teeth can cause your pet pain that reduces their appetite and may even change their natural, happy temperament. Regular bushing, preferably daily, will help prevent these common ailments from entering your pooch’s mouth. Any dog, regardless of age can be conditioned to teeth brushing. 20150611_070515 (1)
How to do it: The best advice I can give is to go slowly. Your dog needs to get familiar with the brush before it gets poked around in their mouth. Put pet toothpaste on the brush and let your dog lick the brush as if it were a treat. This can be done daily and will help the dog associate the brush with a treat or reward. Once your pooch is comfortable with the brush you can slowly start brushing, do not force it upon your dog, you want this activity to remain as stress-free as possible for both of you. When brushing it is crucial to use pet toothpaste and only pet toothpaste. Like little kids, dogs do not understand the concept of spitting out toothpaste and will swallow it. Pet toothpaste is made with nontoxic ingredients so your pet can swallow without harm.
Vets understand the importance of dental hygiene and have dedicated the entire month of February to promoting dental education. Many vet clinics offer discounts on dental services during February, so call your vet now to get more information and an appointment scheduled!

It’s All About the Food

Culturally, we have seen and are still experiencing a drastic shift in the food we consume. Processed foods are being replaced by fresh, local, organic and holistic alternatives. We are willing to pay a little more for pesticide-free, grass fed and free-range fruits, veggies and meats. High-end grocery stores and farmers markets are doing better than ever thanks to a new found love for getting “back to basics”. 

Being aware of what is put in the food we consume is shaking up many fast food chains, some of the most iconic staples to the American food industry. McDonald’s is no exception. They are slowly on the decline with drooping profits and store closings because they are struggling to meet this change. 
We demand the best for our bodies and rightfully so. But we should also be demanding the best for our pets’ bodies too. Eating McDonald’s every day is detrimental to our overall health and many dog foods are the same equivalent. As pet parents, we should be demanding the same quality, care and safety in pet food that we look for in our own food. Eating is one the most enjoyable experiences, for me at least, and our pets should have the luxury of enjoying this experience too!

But how do you know what foods uphold the standards you require? Walking down the aisles at the grocery store we are saturated with a plethora of health proclamations all stating the product is “natural”, “organic” or “gluten free.” Dog food packages are no different. So how do you start? 

You start much the same way you do when buying for yourself, by reading the ingredients label. The first five ingredients are the most important since ingredients are listed in order of quantity. So checking the first five ingredients will give you a quick look at the quality and type of food your dog is consuming. Lets look at two ingredients lists:

1. Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E)

2. Trout, white fish meal, whole ground millet, potatoes, oat flour

Option one shows the first and most potent ingredient is ground yellow corn followed by chicken by-product, whereas option two shows us trout is followed by white fish meal. I know if I had to eat one of these I would be choosing option two, along with many of you. 

The first list is from Beneful and the second is Flint River Ranch. Almost every pet owner knows about Beneful, but how many know about Flint River (who has never had a recall)? My guess is probably not many because Flint River does not have ads on television or eye level placement on store shelves. Advertising and placement do not enhance the quality of food!Several other factors go into eliminating pet foods that are not suitable for consumption and lucky for me, and you, I found a website that did exactly that. has done many, many reviews on various items, and most recently…dog food!

Check out the review here!

The researchers go through each step detailing their process and talking through each decision they made and why. At the end you have a beautiful listing of the 125 best dog foods, narrowed down from the overly saturated market of 2,223.

This is one fantastic resource that will hopefully get you thinking about what you’re putting in your dog’s body the same way you think about what you’re putting in your own body.