Is your cat at risk for heat stroke? Tips to prevent it.

By: Karen Taylor

Meet the wild sand cat. This hardy species of feline lives in some of the world’s harshest desert terrains.  This kitty beats the heat by burrowing by day and hunting at night. With water scarce, they rely on moisture from their prey. We supply the habitat and prey for our domestic feline friends, so it’s our job to keep them safe when temperatures rise. Heat stroke in cats is less common than in dogs, but they are not immune. Warning signs (listed in order of progression) include fast and frantic noisy breathing, a bright red tongue or gums, vomiting, unsteady walking/staggering, diarrhea, pale blue or gray lips. If these signs are ignored, and nothing is done to lower the cats body temperature, coma and death are real possibilities.

Short-nosed cats, long-haired cats and cats that have breathing or heart conditions are especially susceptible to heat stroke.  If heat stroke is suspected, apply cooling first aid by wetting your cat’s coat (wrap in a wet towel, gently wet them down in a sink, or use what you have available if outdoors) and get your cat to your vet or emergency vet ASAP!

Avoid the risk of heat stroke by keeping kitties indoors on hot days, providing them with cool spots to “burrow” and plenty of water.   Cats vary in how much water they drink, so consider your cat’s diet as well; how much moisture is in your cat’s food?  Proper hydration is always important to overall health, and dehydration increases the risk of heat stroke.

Keep cats out of cars, and help them avoid mishaps like being locked in garages or sheds that turn into solar collectors when temperatures rise!  If transporting a kitty in a crate, make sure there is ample ventilation and water to keep your cat comfortable and healthy.  Keep them out of direct sun and travel when temperatures are cooler.

Take a lesson from savvy desert cats to help your less-wild kitties not only survive, but continue to thrive during the heat of summer!

Is eating grass normal for my dog or cat?

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

We have a glass door at In Clover that is a perfect spot for my dog Floyd to watch the world go by. It overlooks a grassy lawn. I found him there yesterday afternoon staring nose to nose through the glass with a bunny who was chewing intently on a long blade of grass. Floyd is intrigued this time of year by both the lush green grass and the bunny. As spring is springing and you start to spend more time looking out and in your yard you may notice how much grass your dog and cat eat and wonder why. This is one of the most common questions vets are asked this time of the year. No one has a definitive answer because our furry kids can’t tell us if it is because they just like the taste, and if so, why they throw it up. Answers vary from they need to purge, to they have a dietary deficiency, to natural behavior.

There is not a problem with your pet grazing on the sweet spring greens, unless they head straight for the carpet and throw it back up. Dogs and cats have been eating grass and smaller grass-eating prey for thousands of years and there is no evidence that it is bad for them. This is not the case if the grass has been treated with chemicals or herbicides. If that is a concern, keep them satisfied with an organic, live grass or wheat grass treat like the ones available at bellrockgrowers.com. If you suspect a dietary deficiency, treat them to a digestive supplement with plant-based enzymes and prebiotics found in products like OptaGest. Since the digestive tract is 70% of the immune system, keeping their digestive system healthy and happy will pay off with a happier, healthier well pet.

Selecting a pet sitter

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

Did you know that March 7-13, 2010 marks the celebration of Professional Pet Sitters Week? Introduced by Pet Sitters International (PSI) in 1995, this international campaign educates pet owners about the advantages of in-home pet care and encourages the public to explore professional pet sitting as a viable and rewarding career opportunity.

For pet owners, at-home pet sitting provides a unique alternative to boarding facilities or having to rely on family and neighbors to check in on their pets. Pet sitting goes beyond simply feeding and caring for pets.  Professional pet-sitting services often provide dog walking, care of special needs pets, pet transportation and pooper-scooper services, in addition to basic pet care.

Whether you are traveling or simply working long hours, a pet sitter can provide you with peace of mind that your pets are being exercised, fed, petted and cared for in your absence. How can you make sure you choose the right pet sitter for your beloved pets?

When searching for a pet sitter, PSI recommends asking these questions:

  • Is the pet sitter insured and bonded?
  • Does the pet sitter have a clean criminal history?
  • Does the pet sitter offer to meet with you and your pets in advance?
  • How much experience does the pet sitter have caring for your particular kind of pet?
  • How much time does the pet sitter spend in your home to care for your pets?
  • Does the pet sitter provide references?
  • Does the pet sitter use a pet-sitting contract?
  • What training or Accreditation does the pet sitter have?
  • Does the pet sitter belong to a professional pet-sitter organization?

For a complete list of pet-sitter interview questions and tips, visit petsit.com/locate.

In Clover note: Resources for pet owners and professional pet sitters are available on a national and local level. Here are few additional sites to explore:

University Confirms Pets Help Seniors

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

When my daughter was a baby, I took her and my 10-year-old Golden Retriever, McGee, to the local nursing home to visit the residents.  I thought they would like to see a happy cute baby and McGee was a perfect gentleman to tag along. While many of the seniors smiled at the cooing baby, I learned first-hand of the connection my dog brought. McGee immediately tried to go with a lady in a wheelchair, even though I told him to stay with me. I quickly discovered that she had bacon in her fanny pack. She had been saving it from breakfast in case someone brought a dog in to visit. McGee loved the pets, treats and kind words.

A recent study completed at Texas A&M confirms that that positive interaction with pets help seniors overcome depression and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“Pets keep seniors active both physically and mentally,” Kit Darling, MS, infection control coordinator at the college said. “Walking the dog or going outside with the dog will increase one’s activity. Fresh air and sunshine are good for both. Stroking or brushing the animal is good exercise for the hands and arms. Pets may motivate the elderly to do activities they might not do otherwise.”

As I was leaving the nursing home, a feisty lady pulled me aside and told me that she had spent years taking care of kids; when I come back, just bring the dog.

Share the love, not the chocolate

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

According to the Nielsen Company, 58 million pounds of chocolate candy will be sold this week. We know our dogs should not eat chocolate, but how much is dangerous, and what about the cat, or the bird? Is chocolate bad for them, too?

In light of the upcoming holiday, here is a review on why chocolate is bad for our pets. The culprits in chocolate are the high amounts of caffeine-like stimulants known as theobromine. Animals metabolize theobromine more slowly and can experience theobromine poisonings from as little as 1.5 ounces of chocolate for small dogs or cats and 1 pound for a 50-60 pound dog. Birds, due to their small size and rapid metabolism, are even more at risk for the toxic effects of chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous for pets and white chocolate has the lowest amount of theobromine, although it has the highest fat content. Symptoms of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, excessive thirst, diarrhea, hyperactivity and abnormal heart rhythm.

4 Tips for a safe and happy Thanksgiving for your pet.

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday — period. Every year, we have a houseful of friends, dogs and cats. What could be better? My animal family of Floyd, Jasmine and Chai, however, do not see it quite the same way I do. They are used to having their house, yard and family all to themselves in a pretty nice routine. Thanksgiving is stressful. To help minimize stress and upsets, follow these simple tips from ASPCA and In Clover.

  1. Undercooked turkey can harbor Salmonella or Campylobacter, these are bad germs and you do not want them in your pet. The turkey skin, especially when marinated with butter, can be hard to digest. Save the turkey for your human guests.
  2. Keep raw bread dough out of reach of your pets. The dough can ferment when in your pet’s stomach and cause gas and serious stomach upset.
  3. You know how you feel when you eat too much, don’t let your pet over indulge. Stomach upset and diarrhea are signs of too much of a good thing.
  4. Lastly, help to soothe the inevitable stomach upset due to the stress of the day, detour from the routine, Uncle Ed’s overzealous head rubs and too much rich food with a digestive supplement such as OptaGest or Fresh Digest. Your pet will thank you and your day will be more enjoyable for all.

Happy Thanksgiving.