Pet Exercise: Key To A Long Life

Does Your Pet Exercise?

Pet ExerciseSadly, 60% of pets in the US are obese. Most lead a very sedentary lifestyle, much like us humans. Truth is, not only does this cause stresses on your pets physical well being, but also on their mental wellbeing.

Rex and Mr. Pickles may appear to be healthy, but have you noticed increases in bad behaviors lately? Chewing clothing or furniture, excessive licking of paws (dogs), aggressiveness or short temperedness? These are all signs of a mentally “bored” pet. Dogs and cats require not only physical stimulation of exercise, but the mental stimulation that goes along with it.

There are Tools to Exercise Pets

For Cats: Consider buying a Cat Tree or climbing device. (Check out some examples by clicking the link) You can also hide treats in toys like this or that and place them around the cat tree or house. Make them earn their reward. Laser pointers are an easy stimulant that most cats love to chase.

Just be careful not to overdo it and keep play time limited to a few minutes at a time. Cats won’t give up a chase game easily and, for example, when a cat starts panting, it means you’ve played too hard for too long.

For Dogs: Today veterinarians are recommending no less than 60 minutes of walk time per day minimum. And no, backyard time doesn’t count – to a dog, the fenced in backyard is just another big, airy room in your home. Dogs need to get out and check their “pee-mail” on trees or fire hydrants, sniff the grass and track things.

Know this doesn’t mean you have to walk your dog 60 minutes at a time. For most of us, 15-minutes before work, 15-30-minutes after work and then another walk before bed is plenty opportunity to get up to that 60 minute mark. For those of you who work super long hours or have plenty of after school activities to attend, consider purchasing a daily dog walking package from Big Paw Pet Care to help fill in the times you may not be able to make it home.

It’s amazing how just a few extra minutes of walk time will improve your dogs temperament almost overnight.


Healthy Pet Food: Get Your Pet To Eat Better

In the early days of our country, dogs and cats main source of nutrition was table from scraps (or the occasional rat or mouse caught outside). In the years after World War I, there was a need to dispose of a large number old horses from the military stables. With that, canned pet food was born!

Yea, you read that right. YUCK.

Pet FoodRemarkably, canned dog food was an instant success and soon, dry food made of meat meal was introduced as an affordable alternative. By the end of World War II, dog food sales had skyrocketed to over $200 million a year. That’s 1940s money, folks!

Today, mass produced, brand name pet foods have a stronghold on the pet food market. To lower costs and maximize profits, big brands add all sorts of things to their pet food. Still, they are considered “complete” as set by the very low standards of the pet food industry.

Some researchers have found links to these poor food sources most people use and increases in pet mortality. Many vets and pet nutritionists agree that the astronomical increase in cancer related pet deaths can be related to the ingredients in most pet food. With little oversight and regulation, it’s up to you and me to ensure the food we provide our pets is the best we can provide them. But where do you start?

Make a Change

Look for the following terms on your pet food label and avoid those foods:

  • Meat and poultry bi-products: FYI: that’s not meat. That’s anything, and we mean ANYTHING else that may have come from that animal carcass
  • Meat and bone meal: Sounds like something that your pet needs. In fact, the basis of meat and bone meal is render down scraps, removing most of the water and leaving mostly protein. The reality is, using the word MEAT is too vague. This simple term allows manufacturers to use any one of the four D’s as a source of meat: Dead, Dying, Deformed and Diseased animals. They come in the forms of beef, poultry, slaughter animals determined too ill for human consumption, road kill (that’s no joke, folks), expired grocery store meats and euthanized shelter animals (again, not a joke).
  • Animal Fat: Filler…tasty and fattening. This can also include used restaurant fryer fat.
  • BHA/BHT: Food preservatives, known carcinogens banned in human food but not in pet food
  • Propyl gallate: Another food preservative that imitates estrogen causing issues and cancers in both male and female animals
  • Ethoxyquin: A preservative and pesticide, known to cause cancer in humans and animals
  • Corn, soy and wheat in all forms: In the wild, wolves diet would be 95-98% protein with the remaining portion made up by partially digested vegetation in the stomach contents of their prey in the form of fruit, vegetable or grasses. Modified filler crops like corn, soy and wheat were never part of any animals diet, including dogs.

Confused about Pet Food? Don’t be!

There are many options out there from commercial grade raw diets to high quality kibble. The most important thing is to feed your them the best pet food you can afford. Seek out specialty stores dedicated to providing consumers and pets with the best in high quality, pet foods. Most labels have very few, easy to read ingredients. Stop by or visit their websites for expert advice on your pet’s food needs and find a good product at an affordable price.

3 Reasons To Avoid Rawhide

In our Pet Tech First Aid and CPR course we cover many aspects of your pets daily life to promote a safe, healthy environment for your pet. During our section on choking management, the discussion inevitably turns to chew toys and treats. As pet sitters, we encounter all types of products visiting our clients at their homes. Some are relatively safe when used with supervision, others are dangerous from the outset and should be avoided. 
The one item that always falls into the danger category, even under close supervision, is rawhide. 
What Exactly Is Rawhide? 

pet sitter“Rawhide treats come from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. During manufacturing, the hides are cleaned and cut or ground. Then they’re pressed into chewable dog treats of different shapes and sizes. To make them more appealing for dogs, some rawhide treats contain beef, chicken, or liver flavorings.” (Source: Pet WebMD:

Why Avoid Rawhide? 
1. Choking: Chunks of soggy, yet firm hunks of rawhide can easily be swallowed by your dog. These flat pieces of semi-rigid, processed flesh can swell when they become wet with saliva. They can lodge in your dogs throat, blocking airways and cause choking. In most instances of choking by a dog, the cause most often is rawhide (more than handballs, small tennis balls and other chew toys).
2. Turn Stomachs Into Knots: Some dogs, especially puppies, cannot digest rawhide. Being a processed form of animal skin, it doesn’t remotely resemble the organic nature of prey food that a dogs body is able to digest. Moreover, some dogs are allergic to rawhide and may vomit or have loose stools after consuming it. And going back to point one, if your dog is able to swallow a piece of rawhide, but vomits, it doesn’t mean it won’t become a choking hazard on the way back up. 
3. There Is WHAT In Rawhide?: Rawhide is not a food, but a highly produced byproduct of the food industry. And the details can be downright gruesome: 
Removing the hair from hides often involves a highly toxic recipe: sodium sulphide liming. A standard practice is to procure rawhide in the “split lime state” as by-products from tanneries, facilities that top the list of U.S. Superfund sites. In the post-tannery stage, hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide. And that’s just one step.
Other poisonous residues that may show up in rawhide include arsenic and formaldehyde. Even dog skin is a possibility. [sic] Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.” (Source:
A Better Chew “Toy”
The fact is for dog owners, you need to supply your pet with something to chew or else you’ll end up with chewed furniture and chewed shoes. Unfortunately there’s not one perfect solution for all pets and pet owners. So we recommend several items for dogs who need to satisfy the need for chewing: 
pet sitter1. KONG brand chew products (unstuffed) 
2. Nylabone brand chew products can be safe as long as you select the size appropriate for your dog and they are not consuming pieces bigger than a grain of rice
3. Deer/Elk Antlers or Raw Beef Bones: Depending on your comfort level with raw bones, both beef bones or antlers can be a long-lasting product for your dogs to chew. However, some dogs have been known to break teeth on these types of products, so check with your vet on your dogs dental condition before offering these to him. 
4. Bully Sticks are an all natural, safe alternative to rawhides. 
It’s important that you never leave your dog by themselves when chewing a chew toy or bone. Supervision is always required. Additionally, after each chew session you should wash the item with hot water, and a mild soap, as you would your pet’s food dishes, to avoid bacterial growth and contamination. 
For more advice on safe pet products or advice, feel free to call us anytime at 321-345-PETS (7387)

Hurricane Preparation for Pets

Why Plan?

Hurricane Preparation For PetsEvery June 1st we are reminded of the possibility of nature’s fury with the start of Hurricane Season in the US. We check and double-check our stockpiles of water and canned foods. (Or, in my house, bags and bags of beef jerky are stocked up. YUM!)

But have you considered a hurricane preparation for pets? There’s nothing worse than trying to fight your way through a grocery store a few hours before the storms landfall to find aisles of water, canned foods and the like empty. But what if you found no pet food?

Make a Hurricane Preparation for Pets List

Start preparing now for your pets disaster with this simple list and be ready if the big one comes.

  1. Food and Bowls: Maybe you remembered to stock up on your pets’s favorite brand, but did you remember the food bowls? Keep a set of bowls near your pet’s food for quick and easy access.
  2. Medication: If your dog is high strung like mine, you need plenty of Chlomicalm to make it through a storm. If not, maybe insulin and other life saving medications are top of the list. Make a short list of medications you need to take with you in the event of evacuation and be sure to keep prescriptions full so you don’t find yourself without.
  3. Blankets and Toys: Your pet’s comfort is key to your sanity during a lockdown in a storm. Make sure you have a bag of chew toys, bones and other comfort items to keep your pet’s mind occupied.
  4. Pet Photo: Keep a printout photo of your pet near your stockpile of pet supplies. In the event of a catastrophe where you pet escapes, you’ll want to be able to have a photo handy to track them down once it’s safe. Of course you say “I have plenty of photos on my phone”. Consider power outages and you may not be able to charge your phone to pull up your pet pictures.
  5. Attach Tags and Update Microchips: A sure sign of a pet-animal versus a stray-animal is a collar and tags. Make sure your pet’s tags are updated with your phone number and possibly your home address. Microchips also need to be updated in the case of a lost collar. Contact your pet microchip provider to be sure your pet’s information is accurate.

How long should I walk my dog?

It’s a question we commonly receive here: how long should I walk my dog?

Baxter enjoys his daily walk

Baxter enjoys his daily walk

Dog walking is one of the most important aspects of your dog’s daily life. In the wild wolves and other canine animals walk miles each day exploring their territories. Our dogs need to get out, stretch their legs, smell the smells, see all the sights there is to see. But the answer to how long should I walk my dog not a simple one. It depends on the age of your dog, breed and his or her overall energy level. But many veterinarians agree at least 60 minutes a day should be devoted to walking your dogs.

Backyard play is as good as when I walk my dog, right?

No, allowing your dog playing in your yard is not a replacement for a dog walk. For the most part the only dog in your backyard is your dog. That means any urine markings or other scents belong to him. Just like the smells in your home. To dogs, the backyard is just an extension of your home. The grass is the carpet, the fence are the walls. It’s like another big room. While playtime is also important, your dog needs to be taking a walk around your neighborhood, outside of your home to stretch their legs, check the “pee-mail” left by other dogs and see what’s going on!

 I don’t like to say it, but I don’t have time to walk my dog

Big Paw Pet Care Pet Sitter

Charlie naps her day away

Human’s lives are busy. From work to school and after school and weekend non-school functions: human’s lives can be very, very busy. And there’s no indication that humans lives will be slowing down.

But dog’s lives are not as busy. In fact, they can be rather boring. This boredom can lead to behavioral problems in the home. And lack of exercise creates health issues for your dog.

 Three ways to increase dog walks:

  1. Carve out time before you start your day, or after the kids go to bed. Make it your dog/owner time and let your dog explore the neighborhood. You don’t have to walk them for a full hour, split up the time with an AM walk and PM walk of 30 minutes. Or several 15 minute walks a day. Change it up – your dog will love it!
  2. Make it a chore: There’s no better friend to a dog than a kid. And if you have kids, put them to work. Make them part of the routine and have them cover a 15- or 30-minute walk each day.
  3. HIRE US! Big Paw Pet Care provides a Daily Dog Walking Service in 15-, 30-, 45- and 60-minute increments. Get us in the mix and get your pup walking.

So take time out of your day, or your kids day, to walk your dog. You’ll see a better behaved, healthier dog in now time. Your dog will be less stressed and frustrated from his routine. And your dog will be happier for it too.

Who Do You Trust With Your Pet Care Services?

Everyday we receive phone calls from potential clients who are looking for pet care services for their dogs and cats. Many times they explain they’ve used friends and neighbors in the past to watch their pets. The story always ends up the same: “I’m not sure if they even came.”

Pet Watching or Pet Care?

pet careThere is a major difference between a pet care company like Big Paw Pet Care and using a friend or family member to watch your pet. And that difference is care. When we visit with your pet, we are there not to just check in and make sure they’re “ok”. We’re there to check the well being of your pet from feeding, to companionship, exercise and mental stimulation.

Pet Care Takes a Backseat

pet careFriends and family may have the best of intentions to care for your pet. But many times life impacts those good intentions. Whether its a sick kid at home or a last minute trip to the movies, life just happens and your pet’s visits may become an afterthought for those you hoped would watch your pets.

With a professional pet care provider like Big Paw Pet Care, you never have to worry about other plans impacting your pet’s care. We utilize a team of professional pet care providers, with backups in place in the event your primary care provider is unable to make a visit with your pet. Our pet care staff utilizes the profile you’ve created in our system to complete all the steps you requested to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible.

To us, pet care means more than just a quick check. We’re your eyes and ears on the health and well being of your pet. We’re there to ensure your pets are happy, comfortable and stress free as possible. We’re trained in pet CPR and first aid to handle any minor or major medical emergency that may arise for your pet. We provide medication and food as you describe to keep your pets routine on schedule.

Your Pet’s Care and More

pet careOur best service to you is peace of mind. From our Daily Scoop reports, which are left after every visit, to text and email updates – we’re always in touch with you about your pets. We perform home security checks to ensure your home and property are safe. We bring in the mail, water the plants and wash your pet’s dishes so there’s just “one less thing” to worry about when you get home.

Next time you’re planning a vacation or weekend getaway, give yourself one less thing to worry about by hiring a professional pet care provider from Big Paw Pet Care.

Windermere Pet Sitters Says: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Pets

Is Your Pet Recycled?

Windermere Pet SittersHere at Big Paw Pet Care we’re huge fans of reducing our imprint on the Earth. From online reservations to reduce paper, to supplying our staff with 100% biodegradable poop bags from Earth Rated. But we promote an even bigger recycling program that impacts our entire community: pet adoption.

Pet shelters are still dealing with the overflow of unwanted pets due to the economic downturn of the last few years. Thousands of pets have been left at shelters and brought into rescues, waiting to be “recycled” into their new home.

Don’t Shop, Adopt!

Windermere Pet SittersWhen you’re looking to expand your family with a pet, many of us are looking for a specific breed. For that we turn to “puppy stores” or classified ads listing the breed as for sale. But did you know that 25% of shelter pets are pure breed? (Source: The Humane Society of the United States)

That means families just like yours made the trip to the breeder or puppy store and bought a pure bred pet only to decide they couldn’t care for it. Backyard breeders and puppy stores contribute greatly to the number of unwanted pets in our area just to turn a quick buck. Many stores sell sick, inbred or other ill pets produced on the many “puppy mills” spread throughout the country. With little regulation or oversight, puppy mills always put profit over the health and well being of the animals they produce. (Source:

Help Your Windermere Pet Sitters Rescue Pets

Windermere Pet SittersWhen you are looking for a new pet, consider first stopping by your local humane society or county shelter. If you can’t find the pet you have dreamed of there, visit the many breed and size specific rescues throughout Central Florida. (A great resource is Urban Pet Magazine.)

If your not ready to adopt but you want to help unwanted pets you can always donate money or time to your local shelter or rescue. You can even do something out of the ordinary like take a Pet CPR and First Aid Class benefitting the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. A portion of each class fee is donated directly to the The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

Pet First Aid 2013

Pet First Aid Classes: Saving Even More Pets

We’ve had a great year with our Pet First Aid and CPR classes. We started off this year by helping pet owners like you earn a Pet CPR and Pet First Aid certification to care for their own pets in the event of an emergency. As the year progressed we were able to help local pet-businesses, pet sitters and pet boarding facilities earn certifications for their staff.

Most importantly we were able to roll out special Pet First Aid classes to support the missions of local pet charities like Pookie’s Rescuefest and the SPCA of Central Florida. We’ve raised over $1000 for the SPCA of Central Florida. With the economy still in the dull drums pets are still being abandoned at an alarming rate. Your support has helped ensure a second chance for hundreds of local pets.

Our final class of 2013 will benefit the SPCA of Central Florida. We’ll be holding it in the Community Room of the SPCA’s Orlando location near the Mall at Millenia. Space is EXTREMELY limited and fills quickly at this popular location. Please remember, even if you register online your space is not reserved 100% until your payment is made.

To register now, please click the date below:

Sun Nov 17 – 12:00 PM at SPCA Orlando – Benefiting the SPCA

Big Paw Pet Care is proud to offer classes benefiting the finest pet charities in Central Florida. If you have a charity group or rescue that would like to offer a unique and valuable fundraiser to your supporters please contact to discuss the options we have for you. Get Pet First Aid and CPR certified today!

Visit our Pet First Aid page to learn more.

How To Prevent Pet Poisoning

Preventing Pet PoisoningAccidental poisoning is one of the more common reasons pets visit an animal hospital. Often, people tend to forget that like kids, pets are inquisitive especially in the younger years.  Careless handling and storage of cleaning supplies, pool chemicals and other household items can lead to very bad consequences. If you’re a pet owner, it’s a good idea to think about safety proofing your home to prevent pet poisoning. Below are some ideas to consider when going through your home.

When saftey-proofing your home for a pet, think about all the different types of ways poisons can enter your pet through a few different routs.  Many poisons can be injected, absorbed, ingested or inhaled. If you’re a cat owner, it may not be enough just placing dangerous items on a higher shelf or cabinet.

Also consider the geographical environment in which you live.  Different regions have different flora and critters that could be dangerous for the pets.  Animals such as snakes, frogs, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, fire ants and wasps are to name a few. Pest management is very important to ensure your pooch doesn’t go sniffing around the home of one of these animals.

If you’re a cat owner, you may want to check regularly to see that webs and spiders have been removed from your shed. Living in Florida, you may come across black widows spider. Cats are especially sensitive to the bite from a black widow and can loose 30% of their body weight in the first 24 hours after a bite.

Always be aware of your surroundings and know the different resources you have at hand in case of an emergency.  Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect a poisoning and induce vomiting only if you are advised to do so by your vet. If you can, get a sample of the vomit for analysis to determine the exact type of poisoning.

Signs and symptoms of a poisoning may not appear instantly as in an anaphylactic reaction, where the body swells and constricts breathing. So keep monitoring your pet as you safely transport them to an animal hospital or your veterinarian. Keep in mind that in an emergency, making a call to the vet and asking them for advise is the absolute best thing to do.

Windermere Pet Sitter Warns: P&G Pet Food Recall

Pet Food Recall

The Procter & Gamble Company has voluntarily recalled specific lots of dry pet food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. These lots were distributed in the United States and represent roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of annual production. No Salmonella-related illnesses have been reported to date in association with these product lots.

The effected brands include both IAMS and Eukanuba dog and cat foods.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

For more information please visit the Proctor and Gamble website.
photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc