Archive for June, 2010

Muttley Crew Pet Sitting Service featured in Post Star

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

There was a great article earlier this month in the Post Star featuring Muttley Crew Pet Sitting Services Head on over to the Post Star’s website for the full article. Below is the text:

Jake and Sid were checking out the new girl. Jake was taken with her reddish hair and lively personality. She obviously thought he was cute, too, and gave him a polite swish of her tail.

Sid became jealous and kept trying to give her an affectionate sniff while tugging at his leash. Jolie could be such a tease.

“Let’s change places,” Barbara Ruccio said to her partner Pat Wrisley, who was now wrestling to balance two good-sized hound types vying for the attention of the Vizsla vixen.

The canines were out for their daily constitutionals at The Paddocks in Saratoga Springs with the professional dog walkers of Muttley Crew pet-sitting service.

The two women provide companionship and exercise for a variety of clients, mostly of the canine persuasion. Their “pawlosophy?” To dote on doggies and give them the same unconditional love their owners would give them.

“People who work all day usually want you to come in during the middle of the day and get (the dogs) out so they can exercise and poop and pee and do the dog thing,” Ruccio said.

Muttley Crew owner Wrisley, in business for six years, said she has more than 350 families who engage her dog services of walking and pet-sitting. Many clients live in her hometown of Clifton Park, but she is trying to add clients up the Northway and now reaches as far north as Wilton.

Burnt Hills resident Kristi LaValley made a career change after 17 years as a legal assistant to start Puppy Dog Tales in 2008, a firm that offers the same services as Wrisley and Ruccio but also photographs dogs at a couple of area shelters to help strays get adopted.

She did an internship at Best Friends, an “amazing” animal rescue sanctuary in Angels Canon, Utah, for six months and then became a certified dog trainer.

“It pretty much changed my life. I had to work with animals,” LaValley said.

Both businesses seem to be finding plenty of clients in the Saratoga Springs region who want their dogs to get out and about and have interaction in their absence.

Wrisley said she puts as much as a hundred miles a day on her car driving to her canine customers from her home in Clifton Park to about Exit 16 of the Northway.

That translates to about seven miles a day on foot walking others’ pooches.

Owners run the gamut of second-shift warehouse workers to busy professionals putting in long hours at the office. They want to be sure their beloved pets get plenty of mental physical stimulation.

LaValley, in particular, said she has a German short-haired pointer who really needs to be put through her paces.

“Her family actually wants me to run her in the woods because just being on a leash isn’t enough for her,” she said.

Both Puppy Tales and Muttley Crew conduct in-home consultations to ensure compatibility between client and dog walker.

As part of their fee of $16 per half hour, Wrisley and Ruccio clean the dog’s bowls, fill them with fresh water and always leave a treat to end on a good note.

Ruccio, 68, would like to eventually see the business expand to where she and Wrisley take care of marketing and scheduling and hire others to walk the dogs.

To these professional dog walkers, the most important prerequisite for the job is a love of dogs and a willingness to become attached to them and their families.

“I love it. I could be in a bad mood and as soon as I meet my doggy clients, they’re happy to see me — and I’m just as happy to see them. It sure beats sitting in a desk like I used to,” LaValley said.

Working Pet – Toby

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

A HITman’s Best Friend  – By Howard LaVine

Many people who come into my office wonder what the strange sound is. Some think it’s a coffee maker, others are just not sure. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, the sound they hear is my dog Toby, snoring.

Toby accompanies me to work most days. He sleeps the majority of the day, but when certain people come in, he likes to visit with them. He always goes to Cheryl’s desk as he thinks she has food for him and seems to have taken a liking to Mike and Jude. Perhaps that’s because they pet him and give him attention.

While Toby doesn’t read the clock, he is a great keeper of the time. He knows when it is time for lunch and at 3:00 gets up from his sleep to let me know he needs a treat.
I am very thankful that I have the ability to bring Toby to work with me most days. Dogs are great companions and Toby is one of the greatest.

Dog Care: Dogs and Thunderstorm Phobia

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

by the American Animal Hospital Association

Does your pooch bury his head into your side every time it thunders out? Does he dive under the bed whenever rain starts to fall? From your point of view, this may seem like cute and endearing behavior, but it’s a sign that your dog is terrified of storms. Some owners are willing to simply put up with symptoms of storm phobias like hiding, trembling, whining, drooling, and pacing. In more severe cases, however, panicking dogs have been known to chew furniture, tear drapes, break windows, and more during thunderstorms. In either case, the behavior is a sign of a terrified, unhappy dog.

Storm phobias are one of the most common behavioral problems dog owners face, but their cause is not entirely clear. Behaviorists are not yet sure what part of the storm frightens dogs most, whether they’re reacting to lightning flashes, the sound of thunder, wind blowing around the house, or the sound of rain on the roof. Some dogs even start to pace and whine half an hour or more before a storm. They may be reacting to a sudden drop in air pressure or the electrical charge of the air.

Nature or nurture?
An article in the July/August 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association describes an Internet survey of the owners of storm-phobic dogs. The authors discovered that some breeds may be predisposed to a fear of storms. Herding dogs, such as collies and German shepherds, and hounds, such as beagles and basset hounds, seem to be more likely to develop a storm phobia than other dogs. The phobia is also common in sporting and working breeds. The study suggests that this tendency may be explained in terms of the dogs’ genetics. For example, herding dogs have been bred to react quickly to stimuli, such as a calf wandering away from the herd, but not to be aggressive. It could be that herding dogs have a strong reaction to the startling noises and flashes of a storm, but they repress any aggressive response to it, causing anxiety.

The JAAHA study also showed that rescued dogs–dogs adopted from shelters or rescue organizations–may also be more likely to develop storm phobias. The article suggested that these dogs are more likely to have had unpleasant, scary experiences prior to being adopted. They may have been abused or abandoned by a former owner, or they may not have been well socialized or exposed to a wide variety of sights and sounds. These kinds of early-life experiences can make dogs more anxious and prone to all kinds of phobias.

What to do
Your best bet for helping your pup overcome his thunderstorm fears is to talk to your veterinarian. He or she can help you develop a program to gradually retrain your scaredy dog by gradually, gently helping him adjust to storms through behavior modification. Technically called “systematic desensitization,” this involves exposing the storm-phobic dog to some gentle reminders of a thunderstorm, such as a very soft tape recording of thunder or a flashing light, and rewarding the dog with lots of treats, attention, and other positive reinforcement only if there’s no evidence of anxiety. Over time, the intensity of the stimulus is increased, and only calm behavior rewarded. You should get professional guidance, either from a veterinarian or a veterinary behavior specialist, before you begin this process, however. If you introduce frightening stimuli too quickly or don’t see signs of fear your dog may be showing, you could possibly end up making the phobia worse.
If gentle, patient retraining doesn’t help your pooch, there are some prescriptions that can. Your veterinarian can prescribe one of several anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications to help your dog remain calm during storms. You can also make sure your dog has a warm, safe “den” to retreat to when the weather gets too scary. You can try padding a crate with blankets or clearing a space underneath your bed. Just make sure that it’s somewhere your pup can get out of whenever he wants. A panicked dog can do a lot of damage to his crate and himself if he’s confined.
Most important, though, is that your treat your dog gently and kindly when he is afraid. Don’t cuddle and reassure him, because that will reward his scaredy-dog behavior, but definitely don’t punish him for it either. Instead, just be calm and provide him with a safe, familiar place where he can feel secure and ride out the storm

Dog Care: Summer Pet Care

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

by the American Animal Hospital Association

When the lazy days of barbecues and swimming pools roll around, you can make them even better by sharing them with your favorite pet. By following a few summer pet safety tips, you can keep your animal friends healthy and enjoy the months of sun and fun.

  • Never leave your pet in the car. Though it may seem cool outside, the sun can raise the temperature inside your car to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes, even with the windows rolled down. If you need to run some errands, leave the furry ones at home.
  • As you’re outside enjoying the warm weather, keep your pet leashed. It will keep her from getting lost, fighting other animals, and eating and drinking things that could make her sick. This tip isn’t just for dogs–even cats can learn to walk on a leash if you train them.
  • Water, water everywhere. Whether you’re indoors or out, both you and your pet need access to lots of fresh water during the summer, so check her water bowl several times a day to be sure it’s full. If you and your furry friend venture forth for the afternoon, bring plenty of water for both of you.
  • Pets need sunscreen too. Though all that fur helps protect her, your pet can get sunburned, particularly if she has light skin and hair. Sunburn in animals can cause problems similar to those it can cause in people, including pain, peeling, and skin cancer. So keep your pet out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and when you do go out, rub a bit of sunblock on unprotected areas like the tips of her ears, the skin around her lips, and the tip of her nose.
  • Say no to tangles. Keeping your pet well groomed will help her hair do what it was designed to do: protect her from the sun and insulate her from the heat. If she has extremely thick hair or a lot of mats and tangles, her fur may trap too much heat, so you may want to clip her.
  • Watch out for antifreeze. Hot weather may tempt your pet to drink from puddles in the street, which can contain antifreeze and other chemicals. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that animals like, but it’s extremely toxic. When you’re walking your pet, make sure she doesn’t sneak a drink from the street.
  • Be cautious on humid days. Humidity interferes with animals’ ability to rid themselves of excess body heat. When we overheat we sweat, and when the sweat dries it takes excess heat with it. Our four-legged friends only perspire around their paws, which is not enough to cool the body. To rid themselves of excess heat, animals pant. Air moves through the nasal passages, which picks up excess heat from the body. As it is expelled through the mouth, the extra heat leaves along with it. Although this is a very efficient way to control body heat, it is severely limited in areas of high humidity or when the animal is in close quarters.
  • Make sure your pet doesn’t overexert herself. Though exercise is an important part of keeping your dog or cat at a healthy weight, which helps her body stay cool, overdoing it can cause her to overheat. Keep the walks to a gentle pace and make sure she has plenty of water. If she’s panting a lot or seems exhausted, it’s time to stop.
  • Take it easy on pets that can’t deal with the heat. Elderly, very young, and ill animals have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so make sure they stay cool and out of the sun on steamy summer days. Dogs with snub noses, such as Pekingese, pugs, and bulldogs, have a hard time staying cool because they can’t pant efficiently, so they also need to stay out of the heat. Overweight dogs are also more prone to overheating, because their extra layers of fat act as insulation, which traps heat in their bodies and restricts their breathing capabilities.
  • Bring them inside. Animals shouldn’t be left outside unsupervised on long, hot days, even in the shade. Shade can move throughout the afternoon, and pets can become ill quickly if they overheat, so keep them inside as much as possible. If you must leave your pet in the backyard, keep a close eye on her and bring her in when you can.
  • Keep an eye out for heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, you must act quickly and calmly. Have someone call a veterinarian immediately. In the meantime, lower the animal’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Often the pet will respond after only a few minutes of cooling, only to falter again with his temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal. With this in mind, remember that it is imperative to get the animal to a veterinarian immediately. Once your pet is in the veterinarian’s care, treatment may include further cooling techniques, intravenous fluid therapy to counter shock, or medication to prevent or reverse brain damage.

Even with emergency treatment, heatstroke can be fatal. The best cure is prevention, and Fido and Fluffy are relying on you to keep them out of harm’s way. Summer does not have to be fraught with peril–with ample precaution, both you and your furry friends can enjoy those long, hot dog-days of summer.
Signs of Heatstroke

  • Panting
  • Staring
  • Anxious expression
  • Refusal to obey commands
  • Warm, dry skin
  • High fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

Feeding Older Cats

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Cats begin to show visible age-related changes at about seven to twelve years of age. There are metabolic, immunologic and body composition changes, too. Some of these are unavoidable. Others can be managed with die.

  1. Start your cat on a senior diet at about seven years of age.
  2. The main objectives in the feeding an older cat should be to maintain health and optimum body weight, slow or prevent the development of chronic disease, and minimize or improve clinical signs of diseases that may already be present.
  3. As a cat ages, health issues may arise, including:
    • - deterioration of skin and coat
    • - loss of muscle mass
    • - more frequent intestinal problems
    • - arthritis
    • - obesity
    • - dental problems
    • - decreased ability to fight off infection
  4. Older cats have been shown to progressively put on body fat in spite of consuming fewer calories. This change in body composition is inevitable and may be aggravated by either reduced energy expenditure or a change in metabolic rate. Either way, it is important to feed a diet with a lower caloric density to avoid weight gain, but with a normal protein level to help maintain muscle mass.
  5. Talk to your veterinarian about increasing your senior cat’s vitamin E intake. Antibody response decreases as cats age. Increasing the intake of vitamin E in cats older than seven years of age can increase their antibody levels back to those seen in younger
  6. Antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta-carotene help eliminate free radical particles that can damage body tissues and cause signs of aging. Senior diets for cats should contain higher levels of these antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants can also increase the effectiveness of the immune system in senior cats.
  7. Routine care for geriatric pets should involve a consistent daily routine and periodic veterinary examinations to assess the presence or progress of chronic disease. Stressful situations and abrupt changes in daily routines should be avoided. If a drastic change must be made to an older pet’s routine, try to minimize stress and to realize the change in a gradual manner