All About Cat Toys

There are two types of cat toys, interactive and solo.  The interactive toys are typically based on a fishing pole design or they may have a wand with a long piece of fabric on the end. These toys require the owner’s participation to provide movement. Solo toys are the typical fuzzy mice, squeaky balls, puzzle feeders, milk jug rings and other small play objects that the cat usually bats around on her own.  For safety reasons, the fishing pole toys should never be left alone with you feline  because the cat could chew on the strings or get tangled up in them. In addition to the safety factor, you also want to keep them put away in-between play sessions in order to maximize their appeal. If the cat knows her time with them is limited, they will be much more enticing. When an interactive toy is special to the cat, it gives you the added opportunity to use that play session for not only fun, but for behavior modification as well. Through an interactive play session you can help diffuse tension in a multicat home, redirect a cat away from an unwanted behavior, ease boredom, provide much needed environmental stimulation and so much more.  If you want to have toys last longer mentally and physically, rotate the toys out instead of having a million of them lying all over the house.  Placement is also important in keeping toys exciting. Instead of tossing a few toys out into the center of the room, strategically place them where they will spark your cat’s play drive. Place a fuzzy mouse on the edge of a cat perch with its tail dangling over the side. Put a crinkly ball inside an open paper bag or in an empty tissue box. Put a straw on the kitchen floor where it’ll be easy to bat around whenever the cat comes in to get a drink from his water bowl. Fill some puzzle feeders and place them around your cat’s play area.  A combination of these thing will keep your cats happy all day!

Fun for your dog on a rainy day

Is your pooch used to running his little heart out in the backyard on a daily basis?  What happens when you get up, Fido is all excited to go out, you open the door and a torrential down pour is taking place?  Fido puts the brakes on and looks at you like you are crazy for thinking he wants to go out in that weather.  He does, however, want to run around the house like a maniac instead.  There are a few indoor activities that you may both appreciate for days like these.

1. Take the stairs.  If you have a flight of stairs in your home, consider going up and down rapidly to wear Fido out.  Warning: This may wear you out as well!

2. Hallway Fetch.  If you have a long hallway or basement with a lot of extra space, tossing the ball in these areas can be great fun.  It’s even better if you have another person who can join in at the opposite end of the hallway for a rousing game of keep-away.  You can also make it extra interesting by setting up an indoor agility course while your pup is going for a toy or ball.

3. Hide the snacks.  This is a favorite among canines.  Take a handful of small treats and hide them all around the house in various areas.  Your pooch will go crazy sniffing them out and will get rewarded each time that he does.

With these things, Fido is sure to be kept busy on a rainy day.  You may find the day goes by for yourself a little faster too!

New Year’s Resolutions For Your Pet

Now that we have all began our own New Year’s Resolutions for 2015, it may be time to think about things that we can start doing for our pets.  Here are ten suggestions that you may want to work in to your pet’s routine to start the year off right.

1. Identification: Make sure your pet’s tag has your current address and phone number and get your pet microchipped for extra identification.  This makes the chances of finding your pet much more likely, should something happen.

2. Love your pet: Tell your pet you love them.  Play calming and soothing music.  Bond with your pet and show them love; they will give it back to you tenfold.

3. A new trick: Teach your pet something new.  Play new games.  Try a puzzle feeder.  Stimulate their minds!

4. Foster a pet:  Do something good while providing a playmate for your baby.  Perhaps, you may fall in love and end up with a new addition!

5. Vet visit: Make sure you keep up with regular vet visits to keep your pet happy and healthy.

6. Smile: Get your pet’s teeth clean and healthy by having them checked and cleaned regularly to prevent oral disease and provide a bright smile.

7. Walk walk walk: Walk your pet daily to provide entertainment and prevent boredom.  Besides, what dog doesn’t love to go on walks?!

8. Grooming: Brush your pet regularly and bathe when needed to save yourself from a pet that is matted, itchy, and stinky.

9. Playtime: Your pet loves spending quality time with you, so give them an extra 10=30 minutes per day of your time.  They will love you forever.

10. Diet: With all of the new exercise you and your pet will be doing, they will certainly need a nutritious food regimen.  Lay off the table scraps and feed your pet a well-balanced, age appropriate diet.

Following these tips, along with your own New Year’s Resolutions, will make you and your pet a whole new you!

Tips for a Happy and Healthy Holiday

No one in their right mind wants to spend Christmas or other holidays at the vet’s office.  Here are some helpful tips to keep your pets safe and happy during the holidays.  First, try to adhere to your pet’s regular routine as much as possible.  The holidays can be stressful with people coming and going.  If you try to keep some normalcy to your pet’s daily activities, this alone, can relieve some stress.  If you have a nervous animal, it may be best to keep him alone in a quiet room with food and water, instead of in the mix of all the activities.  Also, try not to let your pet indulge in the same holiday goodies as yourself.  Foods that contain chocolate, dried fruits, peanuts, and alcohol may be readily available, but often toxic to pets.  Also, some decorations are also harmful to pets.  Things like lillies and poinsettias can be toxic.  Ornamental bulbs and turkey bones can be a choking hazard.  Supervise pets with their Christmas presents.  Just because a toy is sold for a pet to play with, does not mean it is safe to chew or swallow!  For the most part, have fun with your pet during the holidays.  Make the most of your time off and all will surely benefit.

Ingredients you should know about in pet food

Do you know what you are really feeding your pets?  Here are a few advertisement myths that you may want to take a closer look into:

AAFCO ensures that pet food is safe: The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a nonprofit organization responsible for making sure that every pet food sold in America adheres to a set of acceptable standards.  This is supposed to ensure that all pet food that goes on sale in the market is safe for pet consumption. However, pet food recalls are a clear indication that its existence is not an assurance that pet foods are cleared of toxic contaminants prior to sale.

Foods labeled “Natural” are best for my pet: According to AAFCO, a product is considered natural if its ingredients are free from chemical alterations.  This leaves a broad spectrum of ingredients that can be used, and the list in not pretty.  Many of the ingredients come from other countries where there is very low quality control.

Raw foods are not good for your pet:  In a study conducted in young animals that were fed raw food and another group fed cooked food, the animals fed cooked food appeared healthy.  As they matured, the animals that were fed raw food aged much less rapidly than the animals who were fed cooked food and showed less degenerative diseases.

Always look at the label on the back of your pet food and avoid these ingredients: carcinogens, preservatives, protein extenders, heavy metals, and excessive metals.  As earlier stated, an alternative to commercial foods is a raw diet.  Other options are home cooked food, and organic products.  These diets could help prevent health problems and extend your pet’s life.



Trimming your dog’s nails

Nail trimming is an important part of your dog’s regular care and should be done every three to four weeks.  You can have your vet or groomer trim the nails or do it yourself.  Most vets or groomers will be happy to show you how it is done.  If you have a dog that puts up a major struggle or is a biter, you may want to leave it for the experts to do.  It is important to start your dog off with regular nail trims as a puppy, so that this behavior can be avoided.  Not cutting your dog’s nails can result in a few different consequences.  Your dog’s nails may grow too long and curl under, puncturing the paw pad, causing pain and infection.  It can also cause your dog to walk off kilter, causing joint pain and general discomfort.  If you can hear a click clack as your dog walks across the room, that is a sign that it is time for a nail trim.  You want to be sure not to cut the quick, a vein inside your dog’s nails, or the nails will bleed.  It is easy to see the quick on dog’s that have light colored nails. but in a dog with black nails, you cannot see it at all.  If you are unsure of where to begin on your dog’s nail trimming, be sure to ask a qualified expert to show you how it is done.  If you are still not comfortable trimming the nails yourself, then a regular trip to the vet or groomer is in order to keep your pet’s nails healthy.

How to Choose a Dog Walker

How do you choose a dog walker?  What a great question.  Well, like any business, not all dog walkers are the same.  Everyone does business differently and some are more qualified and more experienced than others.  You and your dog may have a better connection with one more than others.  Before signing on the dotted line, here are some steps to follow for finding the right person.  The best way to start is by word of mouth and referral.  Talk to your friends, coworkers, people at the dog park, and other animal lovers.  Look up their suggestions on Kudzu and Yelp and see what their ratings and reviews look like.  Also, talk to people you trust in the animal field, your groomer, your vet, or pet food store employees.  If you still can’t decide or you want to check out some of your referrals, you can always go to the local parks to observe dog walkers.  If you are really dedicated to finding the best dog walker, you can head out on rainy days to see which dog walkers actually walk the dogs and which ones sit in their car smoking giving the dogs not a walk, but a good dose of secondary smoke inhalation.  Luckily, just by reading this blog, you have taken the right step in finding a great pet sitter for your beloved animals, Gwinnett Pet Watchers!  We fit the bill in all of these categories and have the ratings to prove it!

Cold Weather Tips for your Pet

Just like people, your pets’ tolerance for the cold varies based on their coat, activity level, body fat storage, and overall health.  You should be aware of your pets’ cold tolerance, and adjust their outdoor activities accordingly.  You will probably need to shorten your dogs’ walks during very cold weather to protect them and yourself.  After walks, check your dogs’ paws for cracks or scrapes.  They may need aloe or ointment for treatment.  Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.  Your pet may even change their sleeping location to receive more comfort and warmth during cold temperatures.  Your pet may also appreciate a sweater or just spending some time inside.

Gwinnett County Animal Shelter

Looking to adopt or rescue a new pet?  Check out the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  They have many cats and dogs of all sizes and ages available for adoption.  The animal shelter takes in about 15,000 animals every year, so there are more than plenty to choose from.  Only about one third of these animals get out safely from the shelter.  The shelter receives an unusual amount of purebred dogs, so instead of going to a breeder, it is a wonderful option to adopt and save a life.  The shelter offers many resources for you when you are looking to adopt.  They can give you advice on pet care, specific breed information, choosing the right pet, and tips to help make a new pet adjust to your home environment.  The shelter has a web site with pictures and descriptions of the dogs and cats available for adoption.  You can look online or go to the actual shelter during their business hours to interact with pets.  I have rescued several animals and the feeling is very rewarding to save a life.  Many animals have no issues and just want a home to call their own and to be loved : )

A Tasty Fall Treat

Since we are in the first week of fall for the year, I find it very appropriate to share a recipe for a fun, fall dog treat that your pets will love.  It contains six ingredients: 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon,  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl.  You may add some water for the dough to be workable, but the dough should remain dry and stiff.  Roll the dough in to a half inch thick flat roll.  Use cookie cutters to cut pieced from the roll.  I prefer the shape of dog bones, but any shape will do.  Bake for around forty minutes or until the treats are hard.  Your dog will love the combination of the taste of peanut butter and pumpkin flavors.  I have tested this recipe on my dogs and not only is it very easy, they loved the treats!  I may even start testing them on my Gwinnett Pet Watchers clients, and I am pretty sure that they won’t mind.  If they were a hit in my house, I am sure that everyone’s pups will love them.  It is nice to give your pets a little variety sometimes, rather than purchasing store bought treats all the time.