Wagz 'n Whiskerz Pet Sitting
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Bacteria, slime, and germs, oh my!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 5:01PM by Beth Crosby under Pet Bowl Slime

Have you noticed the bacteria growing in your pets’ food and water bowls?

You won’t, because the naked eye fails to see the disease-causing elements growing in the water and food bowls your pets visit many times daily. So when pink slime or biofilm appears, the population of gross things growing in the bowl is like dollars in a bank vault!

Your pets might be trying to tell you the water is not only stale, but teeming with bacteria, fungus and yeast. We think that our pets came from the wild and can tolerate the bacteria and germs that undomesticated animals can, but we give our dogs and cats immunizations, more regular diets, and the comforts of our homes. Our furry friends will still go out and nibble questionable finds and drink from puddles. So we must consider their food and water dishes and wash bowls daily to keep our pets healthy. The unseen nasties growing in their bowls can contribute to infections of the urinary tract, ear, and bladder.

If your pets are drinking or eating less than usual or seem dehydrated, you might need to empty the bowls and clean them well. Pink slime develops from fatty acids in food and soapy residue, so be sure to wash bowls daily and rinse well. If your water is chlorinated, the chlorine dissipates as the water sits, losing its effectiveness against unhealthy germs. Pets need fresh water daily, and the bowls need to be cleaned daily.

Cleaning is simple enough. Simply wash both food and water bowls with a clean brush or non-abrasive cleaning agent, such as baking soda or salt, and develop a daily cleaning schedule. The dishwasher’s sanitizing cycle is also effective in killing the airborne bacteria that grow in warm, still water.  (If this is too much to start right away, strive for daily cleaning and if you miss a day, be sure to clean them the next day!) Let one person take responsibility for regular cleaning, so that no confusion arises in whose day it is to clean the bowls.

Bacteria form colonies called biofilm that adhere to the surfaces of pet bowls. The plaque that forms on our teeth is a biofilm. This goo, which can include pink slime, can include living and dead microorganisms, yeast, and fungi. This biofilm must be broken down before the bowl can be cleaned with soapy water. That is why salt or baking soda is a good option before cleaning with soapy water.

The bacteria known as pink slime, or Serratia Marcescens, is especially prevalent in PVC plastics, so consider introducing stainless or ceramic bowls. These surfaces are less likely to scratch, so algae don’t have a cozy place to grow uninterrupted.

So if you love your pets and care for them, take a moment to wash their dishes daily. Would you use the same fork for more than one meal without washing it? The pets don’t think so!


Pet Products That Work

Monday, February 2, 2015, 5:14PM by Pat Blaney

With an estimated $58 billion in sales expected in 2014[1] for pet care and products, pet owners find so many choices.  Just take a walk through a pet supply store and you will find aisles full of foods, treats, toys and equipment meant to show your pet just how much you care about them!

In my experience, many of these things don’t necessarily offer a sure-fire solution and not every product works for every pet every time.  If they did, there would not be as many choices as there are.   Working with our clients’ pets and having my own has given me the opportunity to try many products.  Here are a few that I think actually work.

Harness Lead

One of the challenges when it comes to walking dogs is pulling.  Whether it is a 15 pound terrier or a 95 pound lab, a pulling dog can make a walk an unenjoyable experience – not to mention be a safety concern.  This product reduces pulling and is escape proof.  We use this and recommend it to our clients with excellent results. (harnesslead.com)

Walk Your Dog With Love Harness

With a 100% money back guarantee, you can’t go wrong with this product.  It is a no choke, no pull, easy on harness that works. (walkyourdogwithlove.com)

Fizzion Pet Stain & Odor Remover

Let’s face it.  Pets have accidents.  This economical, oxygen-based cleaner cleans pet stains, removes odors, is non-toxic and safe to use. (fizzionclean.com)

Dura Scoop Original Cat Litter Scoop

I believe this is the best cat litter scoop available.  Its metal design and comfortable handle make it easy to use and it will not bend or break.  (durascoop.com)

[1] American Pet Products Association


I Am A Pet Sitter

Sunday, November 9, 2014, 2:46PM by Pat Blaney

“My mother has Alzheimer’s and we just moved her into assisted living.” “My brother was just diagnosed with cancer.”  “My husband and I are getting a divorce.” These are some of the things I hear from my clients.  You may assume that I hear these things because I am a counselor or chaplain.  No.  I hear these things because I am a pet sitter.

Because my role consists of caring for a furry family member, I have the honor of being a part of my clients’ lives. I let them know when their pet is not feeling well or if their behavior seems unusual.  I alert them to things about their pet that could indicate a medical condition.  I take out the trash and water the plants.  I bring in the mail and newspapers.  I take the chicken out of the freezer and run to the pet store to pick up dog food.  I hurry to a client’s house because she has locked herself out and I am the only other person that has a key.  I see my role as part of the village that it takes to have and care for a pet and sometimes that finds me assisting my clients at the most difficult times. I send sympathy cards, give encouraging words, leave flowers or treats for human and pet.

When asked, I provide advice on the best pet toys or food or the best vet in town. Because I live in an area that sees many new residents from other parts of the country, I recommend the best hairdresser, doctor, dentist, accountant and carpet cleaner.   I know how helpful that is because when I moved to the area more than eight years ago, I had no idea about any of those things.  I find it nice to get a recommendation.

Most of my clients do not really know all that it takes for me to be a good pet sitter. They know I love their pet and see how their pet responds to me.  They know that the people who I have on my team are cheerful, reliable and care for their pets as if they were their own.  I don’t think they know how much I spend on liability insurance or workman’s comp insurance or the fees that I pay my state to be in business.  They are not aware of what it takes for me to keep track of my accounting records or to stay on top of scheduling last minute requests for service or cancellations.  They probably have no idea about how long it took for me to decide that I needed to raise my rates because I was worried that they might discontinue service.  They don’t know all the steps that I take in order to assure that the individual I hire to join my team will be responsible, reliable, kind, dependable and detail-oriented.  I don’t think they know how many hours I work every single day to make sure that every single pet gets the individualized care that is needed – how Dixie can’t eat Scout’s food because she is allergic, that Nelly must have her medication at a certain time of day or that Maggie will not eat her food directly from the fridge – it must be warmed for exactly 12 seconds in the microwave.

No, they may not know those things. What they do know is that they can count on me to be there for them and that when they bring me a little further into their lives, they can trust that I take that confidence seriously.

I sometimes question if I really do make a difference in the lives of my clients. Today I got the following email:

You are priceless, and I would spend my last dollar to have you as my pet sitter.  The kitties agree!

I guess the answer is that I do.


Controlling Feral Cat Populations – Pet Sitting With a Purpose

Friday, July 11, 2014, 2:50PM by Pat Blaney

At Wagz ‘n Whiskerz Pet Sitting, we are passionate about animals.  We are so grateful for the many loved family pet companions that we get to care for each and every day.  But we don’t want to stop there.  We are determined to put “our money where our mouth is”.  It is this passion that fueled our Pet Sitting with a Purpose Campaign.  We donate a portion of our proceeds to local rescue and pet care organizations that are making a difference in the lives of unwanted pets.  We work with these organizations to spread the word about what they do and their commitment to the pets in our community. LNLC As part of our Pet Sitting with a Purpose Campaign, we partner with the Lake Norman Lucky Cat Program (LNLCP).  I had the honor of visiting with Robin Byrd of LNLCP last week.  We met at Lake Norman Realty where LNLCP has their “unofficial” office.  Robin had offered to take me through a mini-orientation during the process of handing out humane traps to local citizens who were attempting to trap stray and feral cats so that they could be neutered/spayed, vaccinated and returned to the area that they were captured.  This Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) system of humanely controlling the feral cat population has proven significantly more successful than the trap/destroy method.  Colonies are healthier and have reduced numbers with the TNR method.  Citizens pick up the traps, are given instruction on how to safely trap the cats and then bring them to a transport point where the cats are taken to the Charlotte Humane Society for surgery and vaccinations.  Additionally, one of their ears is “tipped” to indicate that it has been neutered in case it is ever caught again.  Once the cats are done at the clinic, the person who trapped them brings them back to the area where they were trapped and returns them to their “home”.  Volunteers manage many colonies in our area providing food and shelter in designated locations.  Currently, LNLCP works with the community to trap approximately 30 cats per month.

Robin Byrd and some of the many humane traps used by LNLCP.

Robin Byrd and some of the many humane traps used by LNLCP.

Dana from Mooresville had come to pick up a trap for a mother cat and her kittens.  The mother cat was pregnant again and one of her older kittens was pregnant as well.  She was concerned about their safety as neighbors had said they wanted to trap the cats and drown them or gas them.  Dana felt that if she could keep the cats from reproducing and spend some time educating her neighbors, the cats would be able to survive.  She hoped to trap the male cat in the colony as well but he was quite elusive and clearly feral. After Robin explained how the traps worked and what Dana could do to encourage the cats to enter the trap, she talked about what would happen during the process with the Humane Society.  We wished Dana good luck in her efforts and thanked her for what she was doing for the kitties.

Robin explains to Dana the best way to encourage the cats into the trap.

Robin explains to Dana the best way to encourage the cats into the trap.

Robin then took me on a drive to show me several cat colonies along Catawba Ave.  We started in old town and along Meridian Street.  She told me about a campaign that LNLCP had undertaken several years ago near the Animal Shelter.  There was a terrible problem of over population and cats and kittens were constantly being dumped outside the shelter.  LNLCP worked with residents to offer free neutering and within a few months, most of the neighbors participated in order to have the cats that they were caring for neutered/spayed.  LNLCP also provided help with food for some residents for the cats they were caring for.  We met Roy, an elderly man, who had three very sleepy cats napping on his front porch.  Robin checked in with him to make sure he and the cats were doing well.  She offered to bring him more food for the cats. We went behind the graveyard to see a shelter and feeding station.  Robin said they would come up with names for the cats by picking names from the headstones in the old cemetery!  She mentioned how LNLCP would like to eventually standardize the way that these feeding/shelter stations were set up and maintained.  Each site is identified with a sign that indicates the colony is being cared for by LNLCP volunteers and asks that the cats not be fed.

Shelter and feeding station

Shelter and feeding station

Signage to identify that LNLCP is caring for the cats

Signage to identify that LNLCP is caring for the cats

We then stopped at the Lake Norman Truck Center to meet “Muffin” (after Egg McMuffin!).  She was originally reported being seen off Liverpool Pkwy in Cornelius and then found behind McDonald’s.  The space between those locations is an extremely busy 4 lane thoroughfare.  She was trapped, spayed and now lives a very great life as the mascot at the truck center!

Muffin - note that her ear is tipped to identify that she has been spayed and vaccinated

Muffin – note that her ear is tipped to identify that she has been spayed and vaccinated

I learned that there are many cat colonies in our area, approximately 15 just along W. Catawba Avenue.  Colonies consist of feral cats or domesticated cats that have been abandoned by humans and have become unsocialized.  From time to time, there are cats that are trapped that are friendly towards humans and every effort is made to find them a forever home but LNLCP is not a rescue or adoption organization. Feral cats have been living outside in close proximity to humans for thousands of years.  They choose to reside in these areas for two reasons.  One, there is a convenient food source – intended or not – and two, there is shelter.  When colonies are located near businesses like restaurants,  grocery stores and apartment complexes, LNLCP and dedicated volunteers work with local businesses to manage the feral cat population through TNR.  Robin explained to me the “Vacuum Effect” that is created when feral cat populations are controlled by “catch and kill” methods.  Animal control agencies have used this method unsuccessfully in a misguided attempt to reduce the number of feral cats in a given area.  This endless, cruel cycle is not supported by the public and is a gross misuse of tax dollars.  When a number of feral cats are removed from an area, it may temporarily reduce the number of cats but two things happen:  intact survivors continue to breed and other cats move in to the now-available territory. When feral cats are trapped, neutered and returned to their outdoor area, there are no more kittens – the population stabilizes.  And the returned cats’ lives are improved – the behaviors and stresses associated with pregnancy and mating, such as yowling and fighting, stop.  Not only does TNR make good sense, it is also a responsible, humane method of care for outdoor cats. Wagz ‘n Whiskerz Pet Sitting is honored to partner with the Lake Norman Lucky Cat Program and proudly donates a portion of our proceeds to help them in their efforts to effectively and humanely control the feral cat population in our area and educate the public on the benefits of TNR.  You can learn more about the Lake Norman Lucky Cat Program on their website:  www.luckycats.org


Finding the Perfect Pet Sitter

Sunday, February 23, 2014, 2:56PM by Pat Blaney

If the only thing keeping you from your dream vacation or beach weekend is how you’ll care for Ruffles and Max, it’s time to consider a professional pet sitter. You can begin your search online, but a personal referral is invaluable. You may find extensive information at www.petsit.com but these key points will get you started.

Consultation This meeting should be free and in your home to allow you to meet the person who will care for your pets. It also allows the pet sitter to meet your pets and gather the necessary information to care for them while you’re away (medications, habits, special needs). Make time to interview at least two different pet sitters.

Service Agreement Expect a well-written contract that captures specific information about your pet’s care and spells out exactly what the pet sitter will do. Will she collect your mail? Water your plants? Scoop your yard poop? Is there a fee if you come home early?

References A pet sitter should happily and willingly provide references. Ask, and make sure to call them. You may also find additional references online. Remember you’ll be giving this person access to your home.

Trust Your Instincts Does this person exhibit a positive attitude and seem comfortable and competent to care for your pets and home?

Doing your homework will give you the peace of mind to fully enjoy your trip, knowing your pets and home will be safe and sound.


Adding a New Pet

Thursday, February 20, 2014, 3:01PM by Pat Blaney

Looking to add a pet to your family? A family pet is a lifetime commitment and taking the time to consider if you are fully prepared to provide everything your new pet will need will provide you both with a long and fulfilling relationship.

Choosing the right pet

Seriously considering your lifestyle will help determine the best fit for your family. If you work long hours or travel frequently, you might want to choose a pet that does not require daily exercise or lots of interaction. Whatever you do, don’t make getting a pet an impulse decision. A pet will be part of your life for years to come so do plenty of research before making the commitment.

Finding the right pet

It is an unfortunate fact of our society that millions of pets are discarded in shelters each year. Consider adopting from a reputable rescue organization. You will save at least two lives by adopting – the pet you adopt and the space you create to help another. Spend time with your potential pet to learn about their behavior and interactions before taking her home. Most rescue groups use approved foster homes before placing pets in forever homes. This can provide you invaluable information about the pet’s needs and personality.

Preparing for your new pet

Bringing your new pet home will be an exciting time. Be prepared with all the supplies you will need – food, bedding, toys, etc. This would also be a good time to set up any vet appointments or training classes if needed.


When it's Time to Say Goodbye

Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 2:55PM by Pat Blaney

When we bring pets into our lives, we take on a lifetime of commitment to make the best decisions for their health and care. The time between their arrival as cuddly balls of fur to the graying of their muzzles and slowing of their strides is far too short. And far too soon, we come to know the sad fact that our cherished family member will not live as long as we do.

Being a responsible pet owner means that, at some point, we will be faced with the decision to say goodbye. Our pets come to trust that we will do what is best for them, and making the difficult decision about saying goodbye to your pet is never easy. Being prepared for what lies ahead can help ease some of the anxiety.

Plan Ahead It’s not easy to prepare for loss. However, making key decisions before a pet dies often makes coping with grief a bit easier. Determine who else may want to see your pet and say goodbye or where you want to be to say goodbye.

Talk to Your Vet In order to know what to do and when, and to help you understand what you and your pet will experience, discuss options and exactly how your veterinarian will proceed.

Find Support Talking about your feelings often brings the emotional support you need. Your veterinarian can identify the pet–loss support resources available to you.

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